I grew up, like many progressive Northerners, to think that Woodrow Wilson’s fight to establish a League of Nations was a noble cause. As a Princetonian, I was proud that he’d been at the head of the University, and helmed the country during World War I. Like so many Americans, I was fed a white-washed lie, and I uncritically swallowed it. The man was an intellectual and academic fraud, and a monster who rolled back progress in this country, costing countless lives and livelihoods, and a century of further progress that might have been. Even his great “vision” for the League was a fraud — he was in fact attempting to impose the same white-supremacist apartheid and virulent racism on the world that he had re-instituted and expanded in our government and in our country. It’s time to stop pretending that statues and named buildings and schools are not honorific in nature. Put Wilson and his ilk back in the classroom for honest discussion, and take their names and images off the places we look up to.
There are any number of books and articles one might read to be enlightened, but if you have any doubt whatsoever about the propriety, the urgency, the absolute necessity of the University’s belated but welcome action, I would urge you to read Colin Woodard’s Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood. If you are not filled with rage and shame at the career of our fellow alumnus and former president, I believe Princeton will have failed in the nation’s service and in the service of the world.