It’s now safe for the New York Times to refer in full-throated fashion to former Democratic and “progressive” President Woodrow Wilson (who served 1913-1921) as a racist menace -- at least in the Sunday Book Review section. But the online headline and subhead still whitewashed Wilson.
“When America Was Awash in Patriotic Frenzy and Political Repression -- Adam Hochschild’s new book, “American Midnight,” offers a vivid account of the country during the years 1917-21, when extremism reached levels rarely rivaled in our history.”
There was no mention of President Wilson as the repressive antagonist above, although Wilson is mentioned 21 times in the underlying review by Thomas Meaney:
At a time when professional doom-mongering about democracy has become one of the more inflationary sectors of the American economy, it is tonic to be reminded by Adam Hochschild’s masterly new book, “American Midnight,” that there are other contenders than the period beginning in 2016 for the distinction of Darkest Years of the Republic. By some measures -- and certainly in many quarters of the American left -- the years 1917-21 have a special place in infamy. The United States during that time saw a swell of patriotic frenzy and political repression rarely rivaled in its history. President Woodrow Wilson’s terror campaign against American radicals, dissidents, immigrants and workers makes the McCarthyism of the 1950s look almost subtle by comparison.
Meaney embarrassed the New York Times of the 1920s as well, which supported Wilson’s fascism.
As Hochschild vividly details, the Wilson administration and its allies pioneered the police raids, surveillance operations, internment camps, strikebreaking and legal chicanery that would become part of the repertoire of the American state for decades to come. It may be recalled how, when Donald Trump was a presidential candidate in 2016, his followers ignited a media storm when they threatened to lock up his challenger. But only Wilson went the distance: He jailed his charismatic Socialist opponent, the 63-year-old Eugene Debs, for opposing America’s descent into the carnage of the First World War, with the liberal press in lock step. “He is where he belongs,” Hochschild quotes The New York Times declaring of the imprisoned Debs. “He should stay there.”
How things have changed. A January 2021 Times news story by Jennifer Schuessler, “The Ideas Behind Trump’s 1776 Commission Report,” dismissively mentioned conservative Jonah Goldberg, whose book Liberal Fascism laid out the conservative case against Wilson. (Glenn Beck also contributed firepower.)
Goldberg himself wrote at The Dispatch that now that the woke left has come after Wilson as well, conservative criticism of Wilson, which was at first treated sarcastically, is now being memory-holed.
….More than two years later, the New York Times held a symposium trying to figure out why weirdos like me had such a problem with Wilson….
NewsBusters also noted that bizarre 2010 online symposium, featuring six sneering scholars. Check the cynical tone from the introduction:
Why is Woodrow Wilson singled out and not, say, Theodore Roosevelt, who in popular history is far more associated with the Progressive cause? What in the current political climate is continuing to fuel the criticism of Wilson?
The scholarly arguments defending Wilson were shockingly thin and evasive.
Now, wokism has made it possible to accurately label the “progressive” Wilson a racist. (Wilson referred to segregation as a benefit to blacks and claimed slaves "were happy and well-cared for.") But conservatives still get no credit for pushing the anti-Wilson argument into the mainstream.