Princeton has decided to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school over his segregationist views, in the same way other historical leaders have been targeted during the protests over the death of George Floyd.
“Wilson’s racist views and policies make him an inappropriate namesake,” the university’s president, Christopher L Eisgruber, announced in a letter sent to the school community on Saturday.
Removing Wilson’s name from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs had actually been discussed four years ago, though the trustees decided at that time to retain it. It appears that targeting long-dead leaders over views considered questionable by today’s cultural standards has become too much of a trend in 2020 for the school to uphold its previous decision.
Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, died in 1924, three years after leaving office. During his lifetime, he supported segregation, and even segregated some federal departments. But he is merely the latest to face the wrath of woke protesters. Historical monuments in cities across the world have been under threat, including those of Ulysses S Grant, who led the Union Army during the American Civil War and thus ended slavery, and former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, who played a prominent role in the defeat of Hitler during World War II.
President Donald Trump has signed an executive order in response to monuments in the US being torn down and vandalized, promising lengthy prison terms for those who commit such acts. In Britain, the police have taken a proactive rather than a reactive approach – video footage of a Black Lives Matter protest in London on Saturday showed officers guarding a statue of Churchill.
Wilson, Grant and Churchill are unlikely to be the last targets of the protesters, however, despite efforts by law-enforcement officers to protect their city’s civic assets. Given that wartime leaders are under fire, the likes of former president Franklin D Roosevelt could soon garner the attention of the mob. After all, his Wikipedia page already features a section on “accusations of racism.”
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