by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Kevin Williamson‘s latest column at National Review Online explores the current furor at Princeton University involving the legacy of former university and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
Princeton University is convulsed at this moment in 2015 over the fact that its school of public affairs, established in 1930, was renamed for Woodrow Wilson in 1948. The objection is to the fact that President Wilson was a horrifying racist with backward attitudes about black Americans, a fact that has been known for more than a century. The life and thought of Woodrow Wilson are not the question here; what is at issue is the devolving sensibility of the American undergraduate, which has regressed from the mere illiterate puritanism of the original era of political correctness on its way back to naked totalitarianism, having acquired a Taliban-like taste for disannulment of historical artifacts.
The irony here is terrific: President Wilson was a self-identified progressive, the father, in fact, of American progressivism. In practice he was a more or less straightforward fascist who used xenophobia and the threat of mob violence to silence critics — when he wasn’t simply jailing them — and who attempted to put the entire economy under political discipline and dreamed of censoring the nation’s newspapers.
Modern progressives have come around on every point: Journalists covering the protests at the University of Missouri were physically assaulted, Gawker and the attorney general of New York dream of locking people up for having the wrong views on global warming, Democrats in 2014 voted to repeal the First Amendment in order to bring all political debate under direct federal supervision, Bernie Sanders rages that American economic problems are the result of greedy capitalists’ getting into bed with scheming foreigners, and that the government must be empowered to intervene in all economic matters, etc.
Woodrow Wilson won, and his epigones, who embrace his philosophy entirely — he resegregated much of the federal government while they want to resegregate the college campuses — seek to destroy their master, i.e. to reenact the oldest story in politics, from The Golden Bough to Star Wars.