Skip to comments.The Woodrow Wilson you never knew
Posted on 01/02/2011 1:59:54 PM PST by Ditto
On the heels of a recent Sunday magazine profile of Glenn Beck, The New York Times published a roundtable discussion among six scholars on the issue of President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson has become a popular Beck target and has suddenly emerged as a hot topic in our current politics.
"I hate Woodrow Wilson!" shouted Beck at February's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
For the record, I was at that gathering, and I'm a conservative, I like Beck and I don't hate Wilson. My take on Wilson, however, is very different from what I'm hearing from Beck or from scholars on the left or right, whether pro-Wilson or anti-Wilson.
It relates to a crucial aspect of Wilson that needs to be better known and that, dare I say, might even prompt Beck to amend his view -- slightly, perhaps.
First, let me say that I agree with several important criticisms of Wilson. His views on race and segregation were deeply offensive. His wielding of state power was often repressive, even abusive, particularly during wartime.
And the long progression of a seemingly nonstop, ever-increasing centralization of policy and programs in Washington arguably began under Wilson.
Yet, one critical component of Wilson is missed by both sides, which conservatives should like and liberals might not: Wilson was stridently, vocally anti-communist. He staunchly opposed Bolshevism in particular.
(Excerpt) Read more at pittsburghlive.com ...
Communism isn’t the only big problem in the world. The income tax and the Federal Reserve both happened on Wilson’s watch.
Yeah, sure. Maybe we should amend our views on Adolph Hitler as well. He didn’t like communists either.
So was Fidel Castro . . . until he declared himself to be one.
Yet he insisted the Kaiser turn over power to the German Social Democratic party. Not the Catholics. Not the conservatives. Only the socialists would do.
Hitler was stridently anti communist as well yet I still hold a strongly negative opinion of him. Imagine that.
Considering the fact that the nazis learned everything they knew about prpaganda from Wilson’s propaganda team, (See Edward Bernays) it isn’t surprising.
He was a man of the progressive left who understood the destructiveness of the communist left. He observed how communists lied to and sought to manipulate his fellow progressives.The problem with this is that "the progressive left" are active enablers of communism.
So the above paragraph translates as follows:
He was an enabler of communism who understood the destructiveness of the communist left. He observed how communists lied to and sought to manipulate his fellow enablers of communism.
Doesn't make much sense, does it?
Kind of like LBJ's opposition to communism. He was willing to send hundreds of thousands of US soldiers thousands of miles away in a (noble) crusade against communism... while at the same time enacting colossal communist edifices at home.
The bottom line is progressives lay the ground work for communists... and are nowadays virtually all active communists themselves.
Sorry, Paul, I don't find Wilson's "anti-communism" very impressive. At the very least, it shows how stupid he was in his inability to connect the dots from progressiveness to communism. At worst (and most likely) he was just engaged in a kind of internecine warfare to see who would be the international leader of communism... himself or Lenin. He just didn't want the snot-nosed roosky to take top spot in the leadership of the global commintern.
Beck and Goldberg are wrong. Wilson was no villain. A fumbling idealist, yes, but not a monster.
Got any Wilson info stashed away?
I guess one can call Wilson one of Karl Marx “useful idiots”
He was stridently, vocally anti-constitutional nor did he "hold these truths to be self evident . . . " nor pledge his life, fortune and sacred honor to defend those principles.
He is rightly scorned.
“Wilson was no villain. A fumbling idealist, yes,”
If you value free speech, abhor racism, think the Fed and the income tax have destroyed us,,,etc etc. The differences are at best, academic. he was a b@stard first class who destroyed lives.
And why is it so hard to call someone a villian when they display a haughty elitist arrogance which they forcefully impose on those they view as beneath them? Sound like the definition of a villian to me. Hell, even Lenin and Hitler were “idealists”.
“Wilson was no villain. A fumbling idealist, yes, but not a monster.”
“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Much like Obama, look at who he surrounded himself with. Men like Bernays, Lippman and Creel who used the “Comittee on public information” to spread propaganda through crowd psychology. The use of citizen informants who reported on neighbors who spoke out against the administration and its policies.
I am reading through Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Facism right now and he writes about Wilson a good deal.
His main southern tie was to be born in Virginia,,and that he packed his cabinet with some racists from the south who brought along their segregation ideals.
It’s honestly hard to find anything admirable about the man.
From his sick personal beliefs, to his running of the economy in war as a defacto dictatorship, to arresting people for speaking against the draft, he was he worst stereotype of a dictator. Not surprising for a preachers kid who was an ivy league educator. Huge sense of his moral and intellectual superiority. Beck is right.
I don’t think the Fed and the income tax have destroyed us. (I don’t like them, but I don’t think they’re fatal). I despise his racism, but how was Wilson different from any other politician of his day?
Wilson’s restrictions on free speech were in wartime, or immediately thereafter, when he had Palmer turn on the Communists. Many of his wartime institutions were immediately repudiated by the Republican Congress of 1919 and 1921, including his propaganda agencies.
So was it OK for the French to poison Wilson?
Progressivism is communism light, all the chains of regular communism, but with only half the murders.
Just look up the “National Security league”.
Wilson’s “Four Minute Men” were paid to pose as the average guy on the street and support the president and his policies. Kinda like Obamaturfers named Ellie light who send letterss to papers around the nation supporting Obama’s “good works”.
Muslims fight amongst themselves all the time. Because one group doesn’t like another doesn’t make either one a paragon of virtue.
I see your point, but I think it needs pointing out that this is not the same as "conservative."
Wilson was a Southern Aristocrat. This was the source of his arrogance, racism, and autocratic tendencies--is much ballyhooed idealism as well.
Oh, puh-leeze. Wilson “hated” Communists for one reason and one reason alone — all tyrants hate all other tyrants because they’re the competition.
I considered saying that, but held back because it may seem in poor taste -- but now that somebody else said it I'll second it.
A little like Castro and Che.
After helping Castro gain power in Cuba, Che fled in fear for his life.
To another stupid writer:
Wilson was anti-communist?
Really? And that is somehow deserving of respect?
The NAZIs (National Socialists) were also anti-communist.
And the parallel does not end there.
Wilson was a National Socialist, just like all the Progressives out there. They hated the communists because the communists were blatant regarding their end-goals.
Another parallel is that he bridged the Statist ideology of academe with politics. Hitler also bridged that gap. In fact, Hitler had his ass handed to him in his first elections. It wasn’t until academe decided the “evolution” approach to National Socialism wasn’t fast enough that they needed some military muscle. When they picked Hitler as their man, that’s when he one. And that is why academe even in England (who had been on their knees before German academe for over a century) approved of Hitler at first.
The socialists wanted to infect the body populace and brainwash them so that the people would demand to be controlled by the Ruling Elite.
This is why the socialists and communists fought so much, even though they have the same goal.
Socialists get to the intoxication of Statism one shot at a time. Communists chug the whole bottle.
But this is only one reason why Woodrow “the horse-faced” Wilson was a steaming pile of shit. He was an elitist, academic asshole and the damage he caused tens of millions to suffer unnecessarily should haunt him in hell for all eternity.
I'm tending to think that is probably the best description of Wilson and the majority of the 'Progressives' of that era. Without question, there was a lot of corruption at the time as well as some social ills brought on by rapid industrialization and urbanization that did need to be addressed in some form.
But people like Wilson were so damn cocksure they had all the answers and their answers were the only answers. They either ignored well founded objection to their policies or just steam rolled their policies through without considering potential negative consequences.
I don't think they were some well oiled machine looking to destroy the Republic. I think you are corect and hubris is the best way to describe them.
If some of the tactics Wilson used such as censorship had been used by his opposition he would have been screaming to high heaven. But he saw no problem using those tactics when it supported his 'enlightened vision.'
All and all, not a good guy to have in high office.
All very interesting, but the real question is: what did Edith Galt think about Communism? She was the President for much of Wilson’s post war term of office after all.
I wouldn't consider Prof Kengor to be stupid. He's a rock-ribbed conservative. You should read some more of his writing before you make those kind of charges.
Any writer who, by 2011, does not see that being anti-communist is not in and by itself a respectable trait, is stupid or is a propagandist.
If someone was an anti-communist and they were a flaming socialist, they are no different. This writer presented Wilson as being not-so-bad because he was anti-communist. That, in my book, is pretty stupid.
No offense to you. But this country needs to wake up and draw a line between the Ruling Elite and the people. Eff what label the Ruling Elite apply to themselves to help foist themselves upon the people.
I liked the story of Wilson as president of Princeton. He was
sucking up to Andrew Carnegie for the purpose getting an
endowment for a law school.
Carnegie shows up for the visit, Wilson asks for the law school,
and Carnegie rebuffs him, saying "You don't need a law
school. You need better rowing facilities. Rowing is a much
pursuit for young men than the study of law."
Princeton got the rowing facilities...
Woodrow Wilson was an anti-communist. He was also the 2nd most destructive statist in the history of the American presidency. There is no conflict, there is only a limitation on scope of terminology.
Hitler was an anti-communist, and a dedicated statist. Just like Woodrow Wilson.
So the rehabilitation of Woodrow Wilson is occurring. I never thought I’d live to see it.
The nation had made considerable progress toward civil rights -- nowhere near equality, but on the way, and might well have gotten there (with much less trouble than we had in reality) over the next few decades had it not been for racial revanchists led by Wilson. For example, the civil service had been desegregated (obviously a policy supported by "other politicians of his day") until Wilson segregated it (and dismissed nonwhites in all but menial positions).
Wilsons restrictions on free speech were in wartime, or immediately thereafter
So? There was no declaration of martial law, which is the only Constitutionally provided mechanism for modifying the operation of the law on account of war.
Many of his wartime institutions were immediately repudiated by the Republican Congress of 1919 and 1921
If they recognized the evil of Wilson's agenda, why don't you?
But still, he was far from a Marxist or a Communist. And he never abandoned his racist views. So anywhere you put him on the political spectrum is bound to be an oversimplification.
Wilson's views were a hodgepodge. He'd call himself a liberal on the question of rights and liberties, but he was horrible on civil liberties. He saw himself -- or his supporters painted him -- as a decentralist Jeffersonian, but he brought in bureaucratic control of the economy like no one else.
Europeans have trouble understanding Wilson's moralism and utopianism, but I suspect he would have fit in better in one of the states he helped create than in the US. He supported national self-determination -- that's clear. It's one thing he really believed in during his later years. His confusions about other things are those that Poles or Czechs or Hungarians went through when they tried to figure out just what they wanted government to do and not to do.
The New York Times blog had a discussion of why Wilson is now such a bogeyman for Beck and other conservatives nowadays. People say what you'd expect them to say. I suspect the answer is that he has all the negatives and not many positives.
Wilson was the archetype of the professor in politics, the liberal intellectual, who has done so much mischief in government over the years. He wasn't a popular hero, like FDR, and didn't see the country through an economic crisis. He also can't claim to have decreased racial discrimination, as LBJ could.
He was a Commie. Period.
So anywhere you put him on the political spectrum is bound to be an oversimplification.
It is always tempting to attempt to peg people from long ago like Wilson or TR somewhere on our current political spectrum. But it really does not work.
Of Wilson, my humble opinion of him is that he was the Jimmy Carter of his day. As stated by another Freeper in an earlier post, Wilson always considered himself the smartest and best intentioned guy in any room he was ever in. He had an arrogance about him, and the old hard core 'real politics' guys at the Versailles conference after realizing the large ego the man had, proceeded to eat his lunch and have their way with him all the while making him think he was leading them.
Like Carter, he was a babe in the woods full of lions, tiger and bears.
God save us from fools like him.
As a side conversation, what is your thoughts on the US even entering WWI?
I tend to think we should have never played that game at all, and left Europe to its fate. Considering the disaster that 'peace' brought about a generation later when we really had no good choices, it would have probably been better to allow them all to wear themselves out and settle it rather than any of the corrupt bastards being able to claim victory or be embittered by defeat.
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