Americans are being bombarded these days with a constant flow of racist accusations about Donald Trump from the left and their handmaidens in the establishment media.
In the wake of last weekend’s deadly racial showdown in the once-sleepy hamlet of Charlottesville, VA, the Fourth Estate’s attempt to tie the President to white supremacy, implicitly or explicitly, has been unmistakable. Without knowledge of the nation’s history, uninformed Americans will tend to believe the loudest voices and are prone to one of two reactions. The first is to accept that Donald Trump is at best a white nationalist and perhaps even a hardened racist. The second is that, while they might not necessarily buy into the charges of racism, they believe that such accusations – and the evidence used to support them – must be unprecedented. Surely no presidents since the Civil War were actual racists, and certainly none expressed open support for white supremacy, right?
Quite ironically, as they blame Donald Trump for empowering white supremacists, it was one of the left’s most revered presidents and father of today’s progressive movement who was an actual, flagrant racist with no compunction about openly supporting the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Shocking, but true. Just ask the students at Princeton University who demanded – unsuccessfully – that this president’s name be removed from the university’s School of Public and International Affairs.
The racist president in question is Woodrow Wilson, who enshrined the progressive movement in the American body politic a century ago. Wilson was the grand internationalist visionary famed for his laudable attempt to keep us out of the first World War and then for his noble effort to unite the world with his League of Nations. He failed to achieve either of those objectives, yet is still placed on a pedestal by leftist elites and recognized as the architect of the globalist movement that has become a calling card of today’s progressive left. Yes, Woodrow Wilson is still somehow considered one of our greatest chief executives, consistently ranking among the top five presidents in scholar surveys.
But his views on race – and his actions as president – should be instructive for those seeking to distinguish between racist accusations and actual racism. Jeff Charles has written eloquently about the difference on LibertyNation.com.
Wilson ran for president on a platform of racial advancement, but when he assumed the presidency in 1913, that all changed. Federal offices in Washington were the only desegregated workplaces in the city at that time, but Wilson proceeded to re-segregate the offices along with restrooms and cafeterias and fired 15 of the 17 black supervisors who had been appointed (mostly by Republicans) to federal jobs. Screens were often placed between black and white workers, and civil servant advancement among blacks was severely curtailed. When confronted by angry black professionals, Wilson responded by saying, “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”
Then there was the matter of Birth of a Nation, the film produced in defense of the then-fledgling KKK, as described by Boston University professor William Keylor:
With quotations from Wilson’s scholarly writings in its subtitles, the silent film denounced the Reconstruction period in the South when blacks briefly held elective office in several states. It hailed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan as a sign of southern white society’s recovery from the humiliation and suffering to which the federal government and the northern “carpetbaggers” had subjected it after its defeat in the Civil War. The film depicted African-Americans (most played by white actors in blackface) as uncouth, uncivilized rabble.
While the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publicly denounced the movie’s blatant appeals to racial prejudice, the president organized a private screening of his friend’s film in the White House for the members of his cabinet and their families. “It is like writing history with lightning,” Wilson observed, “and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
Yes, society was very different a hundred years ago. Racism far more rampant than today, and Woodrow Wilson was the first southerner to win the presidency since the Civil War. But Americans should be aware of what an actual racist president looked like and ask themselves whether Donald Trump would even contemplate any of the actions taken – or statements made – by Woodrow Wilson to divide and re-segregate a nation struggling with racial justice.