While I understand the need to rename the Woodrow Wilson School and Wilson College, I am dismayed by President Eisgruber’s dismissal of Robert E. Lee as a racist, and comparing Wilson favorably to him. President Lincoln thought enough of Lee to offer him command of the Union army, which as a Virginian, he felt compelled to refuse. Returning to one’s home and family in time of war is a natural and human reaction, and it is a matter of historical record that Lee was brokenhearted at the dissolution of the Union. One cannot help being born into a particular time, place or socioeconomic standing. Nor can one hope to live up to the standards or mores of a future time or society. By any measure Lee was an honorable and a good man, and after his surrender at Appomattox, when asked by some of his men whether they should continue to fight for the Southern cause, he urged them to stand down, as all that mattered to him at that point was the healing of the nation.
I would suggest that while attempting to right the wrongs of the past, we hesitate before judging our forefathers by the standards of our own time.