Like most progressives of his era, Wilson wasn’t merely a common racist, he embraced the pseudo-scientific eugenics that would haunt millions. After his election, he didn’t only say terrible things—”There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro’s place in the corn field”—he institutionalized racism in the federal government, segregating the civil service in 1913. He personally fired 15 out of 17 black supervisors appointed to federal jobs, while his postmaster general and Treasury secretary segregated their departments. He’s the only president that I know of who’s ever celebrated the Ku Klux Klan in the White House.
While governor of New Jersey, Wilson signed a bill making sterilization of criminals and the mentally ill compulsory. Is that the legacy Princeton was talking?
A well-regarded scholar, Wilson, who argued that Americans needed to get “beyond the Declaration of Independence” and valued “progress” over freedom, is typically given a pass because he was the first president to lead a massive expansion of the federal government, activating the state in the “service of humanity.”
That’s just the start. Although I suspect there will be pushback to this contention: Wilson also oversaw one of the greatest foreign-policy disasters in American history, World War I. The untenable outcome was bad enough, but the massive social engineering project Wilson helped spearhead is still being paid for. Simultaneously, Wilson sent American citizens to jail for expressing opinions that cast the government or the war effort in poor light.
There are many insane things happening on college campuses these days, but calling out Woodrow Wilson is not one of them.