Correcting history: no more good guys (or girls)

In the face of student protests, Princeton University has decided that while it will retain Woodrow Wilson’s name on the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, it will be transparent about Wilson’s “failings and shortcomings”. A special Woodrow Wilson legacy committee of the Princeton Board of Trustees called for the University “to acknowledge that Wilson held and acted on racist views”.

Some students, under the banner of a Black Justice League, had demanded that Princeton remove Wilson’s name from the school because of his clear racism during his academic and political careers.

So now that we’re on the path of publicly highlighting not just the achievements, but also the warts-and-all failings, of Americans in the context of current thinking, I offer the following new text to accompany all monuments, displays, etc. intended to honor some prominent people.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson

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Wilson (1856-1924) served honorably as President of Princeton University and as the 28th President of the United States (1913-1921) After WWI, he tried to build an enduring peace through creation of the League of Nations. He was also a leader of the Progressive Movement. In 1918 he endorsed the 19th Amendment whose ratification provided all women the right to vote by its ratification in 1920.

P.S. Arguing that segregation lessened “friction” between the races, Wilson permitted it throughout the government during his presidency. Though Wilson had initially been friendly to the Russian Revolution, his attitude changed once labor strikes, race riots, and anarchist attacks broke out across the United States in 1919. In response, Wilson’s attorney general deported left-wing activists, raided political groups, and arrested thousands. In the words of one historian, Wilson’s “legacy of repression lasted for decades”; his administration’s violation of civil liberties served as a precedent for McCarthyism in the 1950s.

In short, Wilson was a sleazeball.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh

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Lindbergh (1902-1974), an American aviator, made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927.

P.S. Because of his initial opposition to U.S. entry into WWII, some accused him of being a fascist sympathizer. Also, after his and his wife’s death, it was learned that Lindbergh had maintained three secret families in Europe that included seven out-of-wedlock children borne by three different mothers. So much for the greatness of The Lone Eagle. What a sleazeball.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Roosevelt, who assumed the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression as 32nd President (1933-1945), guided America through one of its greatest domestic crises and helped lead the Allies to victory over Germany and Japan in WWII.

P.S. Roosevelt cheated on his wife, Eleanor, all over the place, most notably with Lucy Mercer (later Rutherfurd), endorsed the internment of thousands of Japanese, Italian and German aliens and U.S. citizens in American internment camps during WWII, tried to “pack” the U.S. Supreme Court to impose his will, and failed to protect millions of Jews from being slaughtered by Hitler’s armies. In short, he was a cheating, power-hungry, civil rights ignoring sleazeball.

Martin Luther King Jr.

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Dr. Martin Luther King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.

During the years of his leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, African Americans achieved major, genuine progress toward racial equality in America. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speechNobel Peace Prize lecture and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” are among the most revered orations and writings in the English language.

P.S. King’s critics accused him of an overblown need for adulation and a complex personal life that included a myriad of affairs during his marriage to Loretta Scott King. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, a close associate of King, said in his 1989 autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down that King had a “weakness for women.”Clayborne Carson—who was engaged by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to compile a collection of her husband’s writings—said extensive portions of the dissertation King prepared for his Ph.D. in theology from Boston University, “A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” was plagiarized. In summary, King was actually a sleazeball.

Suzie Baldwin

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Baldwin, a senior at Princeton University, comes from Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Eastview Prep School as an AP Scholar with distinction. She was captain of the debate team and earned several awards in regional competitions. She also participated in the National Honor Society and student government. At Princeton, she is pursuing a major in Political Science with a minor in Religion. She is a member of the Varsity Equestrian Team and volunteers at the Eastside Homeless Shelter. After graduation, Baldwin intends to travel in Europe, enter Harvard Law School and then work for the ACLU.

P.S. Baldwin, born in 1996, was raised an only child on a massive estate with a thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky where she was a spoiled brat. She frequently threw temper tantrums, both in public and at home, hated to hear the word “no”, refused to clean up and put her toys away, expected to be listened to at all times, and frequently interrupted adult conversations. In high school, Baldwin exuded an air of condescension and was widely disliked by teachers for her unwillingness to listen to opposing points of view. At Princeton, she’s a royal pain-in-the-ass in class, where she constantly insists that “the revolution is coming”.  Baldwin is, in essence, a sleazeball.

John Q. Smith

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Smith, born Feb. 4, 1960, has, to all appearances, lived a fairly ordinary and honorable life. Raised in Hillsboro, OR, during his early summers he sold lemonade in front of his home and sent the proceeds to a local homeless shelter. In high school he played quarterback on the football team and participated in the robotics program. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in accounting, after which he went to work for Precision Castparts in Portland. He is married to the former Jamie Lynn Wilkinson and has two children.

P.S. Smith presents a public picture of himself as a normal, stand-up guy.However, as a child he had a habit of shoplifting items at major retailers, in college he bought liquor for underage fraternity brothers and he hid a brief cheat sheet in his shoe when taking his CPA exam. He repeatedly overvalued his old clothes contributions to Goodwill on his tax returns and fudged on his resume.In addition, at an accounting convention in New Orleans in his 30s, he smoked some marijuana and engaged a prostitute (though he thought, at first, that she was just an attractive woman at the hotel bar). In short, beneath his thin veneer of respectability, Smith is a sleazeball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’ll be too damn bad if Trump gets walloped

The glee was palpable. This past weekend, E.J. Dionne Jr., a liberal columnist at the Washington Post, exuberantly declared that Donald Trump’s candidacy is set to implode.

But such elation may be misplaced if Trump’s defeat allows the status quo politicians, power brokers and so-called thought leaders to claim victory and dismiss the concerns of many of his frustrated and embittered supporters.

PoliticsAsUsual

Trump’s supporters reflect a lot of discontent that’s boiling up in this country. If it’s just dismissed as the complaints of a fringe and we return to politics as usual, that would be a tragedy.

It would mean ignoring millions of Americans like Sam W., a longtime friend from back East.

Sam called me the other day to shoot the breeze. We started talking about cycling tours and our children, but it wasn’t long before the conversation turned to politics.

And off he went, hardly pausing for a breath.

Sam’s a professional, has a graduate degree and is drawn to Donald Trump, partly because of his disgust with politics as usual. In an exasperated tone, he said he felt that the pundits, the media and political leaders in both parties are demonizing him and others like him as poorly educated, ill-informed, racist bumpkins who need to get with the program.

“It’s really discouraging,” Sam said, “to be labeled a nutcase and a low-knowledge voter because I think the leaders of both parties have utterly failed us in confronting America’s problems.”

His litany of frustrations was a long one.

When he argues that massive illegal immigration and sanctuary cities undermine the rule of law, sanctimonious liberals call him a bigot, he said.

When he lambastes Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s disastrous lead-from-behind foreign policy, the collapse of one Middle East country after another, Russia’s takeover of Crimea and ascendency in Syria and other international messes, he said he’s dismissed or ignored.

Sam also endorses the argument that some international defense agreements need to be reexamined. “Too many countries are only able to afford their cushy social welfare programs because the U.S. picks up the tab for their security,” Sam said. “That’s crap. When our own budget is strained, isn’t it legitimate to consider more sharing of the burden?”

When he expresses his frustration with the latest PC controversy, such as  the complaints by Emory University students that somebody writing “Trump 2016” in chalk on a campus sidewalk makes them feel unsafe and in pain, he’s accused of being a narrow-minded old fogie.

Sam is also disheartened with the failure of both parties to honestly tackle the ever-expanding national debt. When George W. Bush left office in January 2009, the national debt was $10 trillion. Now in the eighth year of Obama’s presidency, it is over $19 trillion.

But neither party is talking seriously about the critical need to reduce federal spending and avoid a debt crisis. Democrats never seem to give a damn, Sam said, but the Republicans aren’t much better because they say they care, but the truth is they still vote for budget busting bills.

Sam also doesn’t think either party has really shown much real concern for the poor. The Democrats just want to expand the welfare state and generate thank-you votes, he said, and the Republicans seem insensitive to the legitimate concerns of struggling Americans.

For that matter, the establishment elite of both parties doesn’t seem to understand the legitimate worries of the middle class either, Sam said. A lot of Americans are really scared and struggling just to stay in place, he said, but politicians seem more focused on catering to big banks, corporations and the wealthy.

And think about what we may end up with if Trump is pushed out, Sam said. “On the Republican side we could be faced with Ted Cruz, a right-wing bible-thumping moralist who is a pariah in his own party. On the other side, Hillary Clinton is an uninspiring and widely distrusted candidate whose entire family stinks of greed and appears oblivious to common standards of conduct.”

“An awful lot of Americans are just completely disillusioned with U.S. politics as usual,” Sam said.

 “Whether they are the academic, media, and entertainment elites of the Left or the political and business elites of the Right, America’s self-appointed best and brightest uniformly view the passions unleashed by Trump as the modern-day equivalent of a medieval peasants’ revolt. And, like their medieval forebears, they mean to crush it,” the National Review said earlier this year.

If they succeed, and then ignore the concerns of Sam and millions of Americans like him, the prognosis for stability and progress is not good.