Published online Jan. 4, 2018
Woodrow Wilson 1879 has become controversial — especially in light of the essays on Princeton and slavery in the Nov. 8 issue of PAW. Which of his misdeeds deserve the most condemnation? Is it permission for The Birth of a Nation to be seen at the White House? His resegregation of some federal department during his presidency? What exactly? To me this is all a guilt trip by white liberals. Wilson deserves considerable condemnation for something quite different.
- He led the nation into World War I without any real justification, only in order to support the financial interests tied to the Allies, especially to Britain.
- He was re-elected in 1916 for having “kept us out of the war.”
- He and his people saw to it that only German misdeeds were well publicized, while the misdeeds of the British were hardly on anyone's headline page.
- He was so naive that he allowed the Napoleonic mania of the French and the cynical political schemes of the British to write a peace treaty in Paris that ensured German horror and likely revenge.
- He was so psychologically damaged in his relationship with his father, whom he sometimes considered God and sometimes a tyrant, that he could never resolve his own personality.
- He was convinced in some ways that he was messianic in his intentions and his role, and became one of the most dangerous fanatics during the Peace Conference.
- Instead of sticking up for justice and peace, he became totally fascinated with the chimerical League of Nations, which prevented him from seeing the realities of political strife and the perverse goals of his allies; he sold out the cause of peace for a mess of pottage.
- His policy toward the new Soviet Russia was a combination of extreme anti-communism and collusion with groups that would soon become known as Fascist.
- Finally, disabled physically in his last years — probably owing to a mental breakdown of sorts more than to mere physical illness — he allowed others like his wife to run the affairs of the United States and in some ways of the whole Western world.
I have not even started to discuss the evils of his administration as president of Princeton. Too bad the 25th Amendment had not yet been passed!