The growing movement to find new appellations for buildings, landmarks and even bodies of water named after Confederate leaders has finally expanded to reach Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th president, a model progressive Democrat and a world-class racist scumbag.
A history teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Portland, Ore. is lobbying for the school to change its name, reports local CBS affiliate KOIN-TV.
The teacher, Hyung Nam, has been calling for a new name for Wilson High for several months.
“We’d have to be ignorant about history to continue to affiliate ourselves with this man,” the history teacher wrote in an April 22 email to all staffers.
More recently, Nam railed against Wilson in a June 23 tweet which cited a story in Politico describing the time in 1915 when Wilson gleefully screened the film “The Birth of a Nation,” a notoriously racist paean to the Ku Klux Klan.
Fuck Wilson and any school named after him. [The Birth of a Nation was “like writing history with lightning,”… http://t.co/FPoRkqtKPh
— hyung nam (@hyungknam) June 23, 2015
“If there is any real commitment to honor diversity and equity, I would hope that our leaders would step forward and have a dialogue about this,” Nam told KOIN-TV.
At least one Portland school board member has responded positively to Nam’s cause.
“This brought up for me a lot of questions about current names of a lot of our current buildings, which may not feel very comfortable to large portions of our community,” the outgoing board member, Greg Belisle, told the station.
However, school district officials have thus far ignored Nam’s entreaties to rename Wilson High.
“I don’t think anybody took that seriously because of the language,” school district spokeswoman Christine Miles told the CBS affiliate.
How much of a racist was Wilson? He was such a racist that AlterNet, the activist-progressive news outlet, labeled him as America’s most racist modern president.
When Wilson was the president of Princeton University, he steadfastly claimed that no black person had ever or would ever apply to the Ivy League school (which now boasts a college named for him).
“The whole temper and tradition of the place are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission, and it seems unlikely that the question will ever assume practical form,” the man who would become president in 1913 said.
Wilson was a vocal advocate of Jim Crow laws in the South. He prevented black Americans from fighting in World War I. He signed a law against interracial marriage. He also ordered all federal offices to be totally segregated, notes PBS, telling critics: “The purpose of these measures was to reduce the friction. It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I sincerely believe it to be in their interest.”
In a book entitled “A History of the American People,” Wilson sympathized with the Ku Klux Klan, calmly arguing that Klansmen “began to attempt by intimidation what they were not allowed to attempt by the ballot or by any ordered course of public action.”
While the movement to rename Wilson High School and other things honoring Wilson has generated very little momentum, the movement to rename or destroy buildings and other things honoring other advocates of racist segregation or slavery is definitely gaining steam.
Last week, for example, a high-level administrator at the University of Texas at Austin sent a campus-wide email explaining that the flagship state school has convened a panel to decide the fate of a statue of Jefferson Davis on the campus.
The Daily Caller has obtained the text of the email.
“Spurred by a Student Government resolution to move the Jefferson Davis statue and the recent national conversation about Confederate symbols, President Fenves has asked the task force to recommend various options,” the email from Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, explains.
Among the goals of the 12-member task force is to create “an array of alternatives for the Main Mall statues, particularly the statue of Jefferson Davis, with special attention to artistic and historical factors considering the university’s role as an educational and research institution.”
UT Austin is also home to statues honoring Woodrow Wilson. However, the email from the taxpayer-funded administration about removing the Davis statue makes no mention of the Wilson monument.
Other schools are currently facing criticism for their campus buildings named after various famous Americans, though none of the condemnation concerns shrines to Wilson.
At Yale University, for example, there is a movement to change the name of Calhoun College, a residence hall named after John C. Calhoun, a Yale graduate and an important political figure during the early eighteenth century. (He was a member of the House and Senate, a vice president and secretary of state.) Calhoun called slavery a “positive good” and was a fierce advocate of the institution.
“The university welcomes engagement and discussion on this important topic: the tragedy in Charleston, on top of countless preceding tragedies in our country’s history, has elevated public opinion and discourse on difficult subjects that have too long been avoided,” Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said in response to the demands for a name change, notes Inside Higher Education.
Earlier this year, a radical student group at Clemson University demanded a new name for a campus building named after Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a Democrat and a racist who fought to limit the rights of black people in the decades after the Civil War.
The Clemson student group’s litany of demands also included a call for the taxpayer-funded public school to “prosecute defamatory speech” to fix a “pattern of social injustice.” (RELATED: Radical Minority Group At Clemson Seeks SUSPENSION OF FIRST AMENDMENT)
At the time, school officials at Clemson did not assent to the demand to rename Tillman Hall.