University should show courage vs. student demands

Lawrence DeCicco, Princeton
I noted from the front page of The Princeton Packet the recent headline regarding the sit-in/protest at the university president’s office by members of the Black Justice League.
Their list of demands includes removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from the school of Public and International Affairs, the renaming of the residential college that currently bears his name and the banishment of his portrait from the same. To round out the list they want some mandatory cultural competency training for the university staff and a dedicated “Black” space on campus. A spokesperson for the group is quoted in the article as saying its terms were not negotiable.
In the spirit of the season and quoting one of my favorite Dickens’ characters, I say “humbug.”
This sophomoric bashing of Woodrow Wilson by holding him up against current enlightenment standards on race after he has been dead for almost 100 years is beyond absurd. Born in Virginia, he was on race perhaps a man of his time.
While not as enlightened on race, he was truly a visionary on the geopolitical world stage and died a broken man trying to achieve worthy goals. Had his vision been accepted by other world leaders the rise of Nazism and fascism and the resulting scourge of World War II might well have been avoided. Wilson was an outstanding man. A perfect man on all issues, no. But then who among mere mortals is.
If one wants to follow this defrocking of the dead because of their race flaws, why stop with Wilson? Why not get everyone in this new Salem witch hunt and expunge them appropriately. Let’s start with Columbus, Washington, Jefferson and even Lincoln, who, while he strongly opposed the institution of slaves, did not believe in the equality of the races.
As it pertains to Woodrow Wilson, this student protest is shallow and unworthy of any serious consideration. Let us hope that the university has the courage to deal with it as such. 
Lawrence DeCicco 
Princeton 