There was an interesting lead editorial in Wednesday's New York Times, forcefully in favor of demands from a black protest group at Princeton University to erase President Woodrow Wilson's name from the university's public policy institute because of his vile racial views and support for Jim Crow. Yet one could ask once again (as Newsbusters has), where was this editorial concern five years ago, when it was leading conservatives like Glenn Beck and Jonah Goldberg making that very same case against the progressive hero Wilson? A man endorsed twice for president by none other than the New York Times itself?
Student protesters at Princeton performed a valuable public service last week when they demanded that the administration acknowledge the toxic legacy of Woodrow Wilson, who served as university president and New Jersey governor before being elected to the White House. He was an unapologetic racist whose administration rolled back the gains that African-Americans achieved just after the Civil War, purged black workers from influential jobs and transformed the government into an instrument of white supremacy.
The protesters’ top goal -- convincing the university to rename the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the residential complex known as Wilson College -- has drawn heavy fire from traditionalists. But the fact that racist policies enacted during Wilson’s presidency are still felt in the country today makes it imperative that the university’s board of trustees not be bound by the forces of the status quo.
The editorial correctly noted that Wilson "believed that black Americans were unworthy of full citizenship and admired the Ku Klux Klan for the role it had in terrorizing African-Americans to restrict their political power." Wilson put his views into practice as his "administration set about segregating the work force, driving out highly placed black employees and shunting the rest into lower-paying jobs." The Times called it "a premeditated attempt to impoverish and disempower a small but growing class of black middle-class professionals."
The editorial concluded: "The overwhelming weight of the evidence argues for rescinding the honor that the university bestowed decades ago on an unrepentant racist."
But when conservatives like Beck and Goldberg were outlining the same case about Wilson's racist views and executivce decisions, the paper's reaction was either crickets or denigrating pushback from this very same news organization, as Newsbusters documented. That's disappointing but not surprising, given the dim regard the paper has for both Goldberg and Beck.
James Taranto at Opinion Journal dug up some interesting old presidential endorsements from the Times, which were left conveniently unmentioned on Wednesday.
“The first and vital object to be accomplished to-day is the election of Woodrow Wilson. ....It has for many years been desirable that political power in the Nation should be transferred from the Republicans to the Democrats. The desired transfer has been postponed because the Democratic Party has wandered in strange places, has committed itself to unsafe doctrines under distrusted leaders. That has been cured. The Democracy has returned from its wanderings, it is again a united party, and the candidate....stands before the country a man of high equipment for the office, worthy of the full confidence of the people.” -- editorial, New York Times, Nov. 5, 1912
“Reflecting on the incredible and unprecedented forces of chaos with which [Wilson] has had to contend, we think that his leadership has justified itself and that Mr. Hughes’s plea to the country to replace it by his own is futile and not without a touch of impudence.”--editorial, New York Times, Oct. 23, 1916.
Judging by the snooty tone of that 1916 endorsement -- declaring "impudent" the very idea of Republican and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes running against Wilson's re-election -- not much has changed at the liberal Times.