The BLOG: Politics

Should we change the name of Washington D.C.? Political correctness run amok

There is a joke going around about the owner of the football team, the Washington Redskins. He is being besieged on all sides by politically corrects folks demanding that he change the name of the team. The name is offensive. It is so insensitive. It is hurtful to so many. Finally the owner agrees. He says, “OK! You’re right. I will change the name. I will drop the offensive word – Washington.”

With the politically correct demands being put forward on American campuses over the past weeks, some may soon be demanding that the name of our capital be changed. After all, George Washington was a slaveholder. In fact, one of the largest slaveholders in the South! And he only got around to freeing his slaves upon his death. Accordingly, he must be considered a “racist” by liberal and left-leaning students and faculty in the Academy. How can we have our nation’s capital be named after a racist, regardless of the fact that he was the “Father” of the nation? Of course, that is a problem too, because as the Father of the nation, he was a part of the patriarchal society which oppressed women. Two strikes and you are out in this league.

Although demands for changing the name of our nation’s capital have not yet surfaced on campus, there are in fact shrill voices at Princeton University and among the politically correct throughout the land that Princeton disassociate itself from any connection with the legacy of Woodrow Wilson. Before Woodrow Wilson became the 28th President of the U.S. in 1913, he served as President of Princeton from 1902–1910 before becoming Governor of New Jersey. A leader of the Progressive movement at that time, Wilson has always been revered by Democrats as a liberal icon for the  progressive legislation that he shepherded through Congress and for his attempt to establish an international system of collective security embodied in the League of Nations, which he failed to persuade Congress to ratify.

Now, however, he is being denounced by liberals and progressives throughout the land for his support of segregation and his “racist” beliefs. During Wilson’s presidency from 1913-1921, racial segregation was legal and widely practiced throughout the U.S. — especially in southern states where Wilson was raised. Yet Princeton students are demanding that the world-renowned graduate school, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a dormitory named after Wilson be renamed.

Princeton officials, as part of a signed agreement with some students, said that they will consider removing a mural of Wilson on campus, start conversations about his legacy of racism, and increase cultural competency training for Princeton faculty. Princeton President, Christopher Eisgruber, has said that he was thankful for the “willingness of the students to work with us to find a way forward.”

It is hard to believe that college and university officials at Princeton and throughout the land do not have the courage to 1) stand up against these fatuous student and faculty demands, giving walking papers to those who refuse to act legally, “occupying” university grounds and offices, or using force against other students, 2) educate the students (and faculty) about the long moral arc of achieving racial justice throughout the globe, 3)  show pride in the fact that the U.S. has been in the forefront of this struggle, and 4) recognize how “privileged” they are to be part of these world class colleges and universities.