A few years ago when I wrote what turned into a controversial piece about Barack Obama's faith, my office voicemail was filled with angry calls from Glenn Beck supporters. As it turns out, Beck mentioned my piece on his radio show and his website The Blaze made it front-page news. Several of callers had some pretty nasty things to say. They told me that I was just as bad Louis Farrakhan, Adolph Hitler, and Woodrow Wilson. I at least understood the references to Farrakhan and Hitler. But Woodrow Wilson? At least four different negative messages (there were no positive ones) referenced the 28th President of the United States.
After a quick Google search of "Glenn Beck and Woodrow Wilson" I realized that Beck had been spending a lot of time on his radio program and in his writings attacking Wilson's "progressive" political views. In fact, as Jonathan Zimmerman of New York University points out in his recent piece at Politico, Beck was calling for the removal of Wilson's name from buildings at Princeton University, the place where he served as college president from 1902-1910.
As many of you know, Beck is not the only one who wants Wilson removed from Princeton's campus. A few days ago I weighed in on the whole Wilson-- racism issue going on at the historic New Jersey university. I joined several of my fellow American historians in sympathizing with the university's African-American students, acknowledging Wilson's racism, and arguing against removing his image and name from campus.
Zimmerman's piece reminds us that despite his racism, Wilson remains an important figure in the history of American progressivism. He is so important, that conservatives like Beck, and more recently a writer at The Federalist, thinks he should go.
Here is a taste of Zimmerman's article: