Dear Liberals, Stop Defending Racist Progressive Woodrow Wilson

Surprisingly, the 28th president still has his defenders on the left.


Public Domain

Last week a group of students at Princeton University occupied the office of the school's president and demanded that the institution remove the name of Woodrow Wilson from all campus buildings and academic programs, including the elite Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Why? Because Wilson was a virulent racist who imposed white supremacist policies while serving as president of the United States. As one student protestor told The New York Times, "we think that you can definitely understand your history without idolizing or turning Wilson into some kind of god, which is essentially what they've done."

Not everyone is quite so eager to see Wilson knocked off his pedestal, however. Writing at Politico Magazine this week, left-wing New York University professor Jonathan Zimmerman attempted to defend the beleaguered 28th president by reminding the ungrateful student activists about Wilson's pioneering progressive agenda. Sure, Wilson may have been a racist, Zimmerman admitted, but "the Progressive doctrines espoused by Wilson" ushered in a new era of activist government that was ultimately "reflected" and enshrined in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Wilson was a founding father of modern liberalism, Zimmerman insisted, and therefore "deserves a good deal of credit" for improving the lives of "America's poor and dispossessed, including minorities."

I never cease to be amazed when I encounter this sort of liberal apologia for Woodrow Wilson. This is the same Woodrow Wilson, after all, who imposed Jim Crow on the federal government, praised segregation, glorified the Ku Klux Klan, spied on innocent Americans, censored the mail, trashed the Bill of Rights, and imprisoned multiple critics for the "crimes" of giving speeches, writing editorials, and distributing pamphlets. As H.L. Mencken once remarked about the ugly record of another unlikely liberal hero, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., "If this is Liberalism, then all I can say is that Liberalism is not what it was when I was young."

The upshot of Zimmerman's article seems to be that Wilson's racism should be weighed separately from his progressive agenda. But in fact the two were inseparably linked. And that was not just true for Wilson. The entire Progressive movement had a terrible record on race. Many progressives either shared Wilson's hostility to African Americans or were essentially indifferent to the plight of blacks. In the South, as historian David Southern has noted, vile practices like disfranchisement, segregation, and lynching all "went hand-in-hand with the most advanced forms of southern progressivism." Wilsonian progressives basically built their welfare state for whites only.

That uncomfortable fact becomes evident when you consider how "the Progressive doctrines espoused by Wilson" bore fruit during Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Although FDR is still sometimes celebrated as a champion of the downtrodden, even the most left-leaning of scholars will now reluctantly concede that the New Deal was mostly a raw deal for blacks. New Deal housing policies, for example, promoted the notorious red-lining of black neighborhoods. New Deal war policies shored up segregation in the armed forces. New Deal labor policies threw blacks out of work and granted monopoly bargaining powers to racist unions.

That last point is particularly illustrative. Under Section 7A of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, the federal government gave organized labor a windfall by embracing the concept of exclusive collective bargaining arrangements. What that meant was that once a union received the support of a majority of workers at a given business, that union was granted the exclusive authority to represent all workers at that business, including those workers that voted against joining the union in the first place. Under this federal scheme, no other union representation was permitted at that workplace. And since most unions had long histories of excluding blacks, this grant of monopoly power had the predictable result of preventing countless black Americans from finding or keeping unionized jobs.

The racist implications of this major New Deal policy did not go unnoticed at the time. Here's how The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP, described it in a 1934 editorial:

Seeking to avail itself of the powers granted under section 7A of the NRA, union labor strategy seems to be to form a union in a given plant, strike to obtain the right to bargain with the employers as the sole representative of labor, and then to close the union to black workers, effectively cutting them off from employment.

The Chicago Defender, then America's leading black newspaper, denounced the union friendly NRA as the "Negro Removal Act," "Negro Run Around," and "No Roosevelt Again." According to civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois, "the most sinister power that the NRA has reinforced is the American Federation of Labor."

Perhaps it should go without saying, but this stuff is not just ancient history. There are black Americans alive today who still bear the scars—financial and otherwise—inflicted by racist government policies crafted by Wilsonian progressives and Wilson-inspired New Dealers. The fact that the federal government finally, reluctantly began mending its ways several decades later in response to the Civil Rights Movement does nothing to take Wilson and FDR off the hook.

To be sure, the progressives and the New Dealers did accomplish some worthy things in their day. But let's not whitewash the fact that those same progressives and New Dealers also did some terrible things to untold numbers of black Americans. If we're going to discuss Woodrow Wilson's record on race, we must be mindful of the entire story.

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  1. Hogwash. Neither Wilson nor Roosevelt could have been racist, as neither one were members of the Republican party.

    1. “The Chicago Defender, then America’s leading black newspaper, denounced the union friendly NRA as the “Negro Removal Act,” “Negro Run Around,” and “No Roosevelt Again.””

      I gotta LOVE the above!!!

      Along that vein, I think that TRUMP actually stands for “Totalitarian Republicrat, Unbelievably Militant Prick”

      1. Trump also stands for “likes libertarians, favors legal medical hemp and wants the 21st Amendment terms applied to marijuana.” That ends his fake bid for the nomination, not the slanted invective cranked out by Reason scribblers to protect Rubio from competition. Ross Perot waited and quit at the last minute, after successfully deflecting all attention away from the LP and its platform. If the GOP weren’t controlled by mystical hatemongers eager to remove all individual rights from the female half of the population and jail, conscript and deport the rest, Rand Paul would not be waiting for a heart attack or stroke to promote him to 9th place in the running.

    2. George Takei is a dyed-in-the-wool FDR liberal, and FDR put him and his family in an internet camp.

      Liberals are just insane. There’s no other explanation.

      1. Internment camp rather.

        1. You MAY have been making a VERY insightful “Freudian slip” the first time around, actually… I, for one, welcome our New Masters from the (often) VERY Campy Internet!

        2. Well, those internet camps can be pretty rough places themselves.

          1. South Park covered that, I believe.

      2. My respect for Takei would increase infinitely if he would just admit that FDR was a fascist prick.


      3. Liberal, meaning protolibertarian, is what communists began calling themselves in order to cash in on and claim credit for repeal of prohibition. No communist or socialist platform called for repeal of prohibition before 1932. Only the American Liberal Party did that while rejecting communism, blue laws, foreign intervention, the dole and religious legislation generally. This–not communism or fascism–is what conservatives and other dupes have been raging against ever since. Polite speakers of native English shake their heads in puzzlement when illiterate Americans point to free trade antiprohibitionists and in effect shriek “commies!” Less polite Banana Republican communists smile and say “see compa?eros?” “Even the conservative bigot Republicans in Amerikkka hate selfish liberalism. Long live Bolivarian Populist Communism, nationalize, tax and regulate!”

    3. I’ve said many times here that racial equality, gay rights, etc. are merely loss leaders and door busters for the progs to get voters in the door. The. They up sell them to a full Marxism package. When the time is right, they will completely shit on any minority group necessary to get their way. For example, black unemployment is rough the roof. Especially for young, low skilled blacks. Yet Obama is intent on shoe horn if as many Latino migrants into the US as he possibly can. thereby completely fucking over young black workers.

      It’s the progressive way. And apparently has been for at least a century. That their racism is now paternalistic as opposed to antagonistic is irrelevant.

      1. I see. would you say that THEY TOOK UR JERBZ?!

        1. TEY TUK UR JBS!!1!!1

        2. Well, yeah. And it’s probably much less funny when illegals are taking your job, and depressing your wages illegally.

          1. De To Oo Uh-uhrrrrrr !!!!

    4. What I don’t understand is how STUPID the vast majority of blacks are to continue to give their vote to a party who has treated them like shit for at least the last 100 years.

      How long are you going to remain a doormat for the democrat party? Learn your history you dumb fucks!

      1. Doesn’t matter how much one points out the facts that all the civil rights legislation since the US Civil War has only passed due to support by Republican politicians, blacks still believe the lies that the GOP has always been opposed to all such legislation.

        After the US Civil War, the southeast was a solid GOP bloc. Finding a black democrat supporter in the former Confederate States was like looking for a needle in a haystack buried under concrete.

        So the DNC set out on a long term campaign of lies to swing the southeast over to them, with a focus on blacks, with hispanics being targeted later once they got many blacks voting democrat.

        One thing that helped them was the democrat politicians who had opposed equal rights for blacks, then really did switch to the republican party and threw their support in for civil rights.

        The democrats point to their actions *when they were democrats* while claiming those politicians (like Strom Thurmond) were acting that way under the GOP banner. It just ain’t true.

  2. Hsawgoh, once they are declared racists they automatically become members of the Republican party.

    1. Reminds me of posthumous conversions to Mormonism.

      1. It happens exactly like that…

        1. I wouldn’t be surprised if that posthumous conversion include a rewriting of history where Wilson and FDR are small government zealots who demand workers to settle for slave wages, want children to starve and throw granny over the cliff?

          1. Well yeah, Joec578, MeThinks ye might be correct there… From my perspective, all I can add is, I find that these “posthumous conversions” are pretty perverse, but more so, “posthumorous”… PAST funny, into SAD territory!

            I hope you find this post to be humorous!

  3. There should be nothing surprising about the fact that Wilson still has defenders on the left. It is only surprising to those who cannot or will not recognize the totalitarian impulses at the heart of progressivism.

  4. Let’s just go ahead and erase all history prior to election night 2008, the exact moment in time that racism ended.

    1. Yes and the moment when the seas began to recede dontchaknow!

      1. seas began to recede

        But look at the crap it left behind.

  5. The thing is, their main grevience against Wilson is that he was a segregationist, but in their (the student protesters) actual lists of demands is one for a segregated cultural center.

    Do Proggie universities completely lobotomize the irony part of their student’s brains?

    1. I’d call your comment a “death-blow” to their cause if protestors weren’t blatant hypocrites in the first place, and able to get away with it. The BLM group is based upon a bunch of lies from the “Brown case.”

    2. Well ya see, old school segregation was for the safety of whites, and now we need segregation again for the safety of blacks. Same policy, same outcome, but now with the Good Intentions we can feel smug about.

  6. Any good the progressive movement did, assuming someone can come up with an example, was purely accidental, I assure you.

    1. And very limited. After all, you can’t bang the drum for equality unless there is inequality, and inequality requires dividing society into groups to compare and contrast.

    2. Well, I’m sure their motives were altruistic.

  7. The author fails to mention Wilson’s most damaging legacy, the creation of the Federal Reserve. The ability to create and control monetary policies was taken out of the government’s hands.

    1. Incorrect.

      It was taken out of CONGRESS’S hands for the most part.

      And that is a good thing.

      1. Yeah, thank god we don’t have to worry about the vagaries of politics or the unpredictability of the business cycle anymore.

        1. Congress is inept. I know you don’t think much of the POTUS appointing the Fed Governors but it is no doubt better than the idiots in Congress trying to do something about monetary policy.

          Imagine two idiots like Louis Gohmert and Maxine Waters debating monetary policy.

          1. Imagine 535 idiots arguing with each other and doing little, but at least debating it in public somewhat. Imagine one idiot invoking executive privilege to avoid any public disclosure of his thoughts and reasoning.

            Imagine that! Shitstopper prefers capricious secrecy.

          2. Palin’s Buttplug|11.28.15 @ 9:46AM|#
            “Congress is inept.”

            Turd thinks this justifies his idiocy.
            Does you dog hate you like most everyone else, turd?

          3. A thesis undermined only by the fact that we’ve experienced more rapid devaluation of money and both more frequent and more severe economic cycle fluctuations since the creation of the Federal Reserve system than during either of the first two central banks or the free banking period that preceded it, undermining the original purpose of the institution. But of course, the Fed has made up for those initial failures by knocking its amended mandate to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates” right the fuck out of the park.

            To the extent a central bank is a necessity (which is debatable), the Federal Reserve is a pretty shitty one.

            1. The Fed needs to estabish a Muslim outreach program.

              Then all would be well.

              1. I thought that was covered already when Obama repurposed NASA as an Islamic outreach program in 2009.

              2. NASA is already on that.

                1. Oops 🙁

          4. Congress is inept. I know you don’t think much of the POTUS appointing the Fed Governors but it is no doubt better than the idiots in Congress trying to do something about monetary policy

            Will you be asking for an Enabling Act next?

          5. Congress still appoints, confirms, subsidizes elections so only the looter votes count, and excludes all upstart parties under the Nixon law. Nixon is the prohibitionist bigot republican who trashed the economy for his enslaving war, then defaulted on gold resulting in the inflation graph linked below. And Nixon’s GOP keeps that election subsidies law alive to make damn good and sure official vote counts delete some 2/3 of libertarian votes cast. Meanwhile the media sucks subsidies without uttering a peep.

      2. I can’t disagree with you that Congress is inept. But the creation of a secretive, almost-totally-unaccountable, largely discretion-based central committee to set monetary policy is, at the very least, a dangerous thing.

    2. And that he was/is considered the father of “public administration”.

      Sadly, as a quasi-governmental employee (water district) I availed myself of the employer paid, MPA program through the local state college. It was there that Wilson was extolled as a semi-god because he was considered the founding father of public administration. That is, we were special as public servants in ways that proletariat workers in private industry could never understand.

      We were “the betters” or “the elites” dedicating our lives to public service and Wilson the academic, was the savior that first laid out this distinction between a ruling class and “the rest of them”. All hail King George!


      Prior to those classes, I never cared about Wilson one way or the other. After reading just some of his writings and seeing how they were supported by the extreme, left leaning college profs in this Cal State University program, I hated that man and all that he had done. That was my first catharsis that told me I wasn’t going to make it as a government employee after several, minor tremors prior to that.

  8. Colorado Springs – Hotbed of Wingnuttery:

    Colorado Springs featured in the documentary film Jesus Camp, where evangelical Christian children were taught to engage in anti-abortion protests. Two of the film’s lead characters travelled to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where they met church pastor Ted Haggard, a one-time leader of the National Association of Evangelicals who had weekly communications with president George W Bush. Haggard resigned from his position later that same year following revelations that he purchased methamphetamine and the services of a male prostitute.

    (As the first state to legalise abortion and the first to implement a regulated marijuana market, Colorado is a state that doesn’t take kindly to government infringements on personal rights.)


    1. Re: Peter Caca,

      It’s especially relevant now for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

    2. Look, every political movement needs a hotbed of wingnuttery. Left wingnuttery has numerous cities, like San Francisco and Cambridge. Let the right wing nuts have Colorado Springs. (And how conservative can a town be where a gay drug addict works as a church pastor?)

      What I can’t figure out is why you think that has anything to do with libertarianism.

      1. Well, growing up in the Springs,i can attest that it is a very conservative town. The kind of place where, if you’re poor, it’s because you are a sinner.

        1. And what does that have to do with libertarianism?

      2. The Left has Boulder.


  9. The surprise here is that students want the removal of the name of a progressive hero. Usually these clowns all turn a blind eye to what disgusting racists most of their proglodyte heroes actually were. They had the “correct” political views, and that’s all that matters.

  10. Next Root can write an article knocking Jeffrey Dahmer for his lack of personal hygiene.

    1. Was he a progressive who put race relations in the bucket and expanded authoritarian powers, yet is somehow lionized anyway?

      Maybe you could write a comment praising Lionel toy trains. It has as much relevance.

      1. I think the point he was making is that being a racist was actually one of Wilson’s lesser moral defects, or at least one among many.

        1. I guess it Whooshed right over me. Do I need to recalibrate my sarcasm meter? Sorry!

        2. This. DR is tweaking progressives (a worthy task), but his personal racism is not what made Wilson a Bad Guy on par with Jackson and FDR.

  11. Wison’s economic ‘programs’ also led to a near depression. And as all here know,he involved the U.S. into a war between the empires of Europe.

    1. He did do one thing right. Because he had his stroke after WW I, and no one wanted to take charge in his absence, the Fed was reluctant to implement all the New Deal-like programs to combat the natural deflation after the war, so they had no excuse for maintaining a huge budget, and while they did prevent deflation returning prices back to normal, they also balanced the budget and didn’t exacerbate the recession like Hoover and FDR did ten years later.

      See fan interesting inflation chart / table. Note how prices from 1800 up to WW I rose during wars and fell back after, such that prices during that entire era were remarkably constant. See how they did not delfate after WW I due to Fed policies.

      1. Yes,it could have been worse,and ,luckily the next guy knew what to do,cut back taxes and government spending and let the chips fall as they may.BTW,most do not understand that at the start of WW 2 the U.S was still reeling from Hoover and F.D.R.’s policies.

    2. It was actually the banks that involved “us” in that European war over heroin markets (another reason the LP should not advocate relegalization but at best decriminalization of individual possession of addictive junk). China banned opium for keeps in 1911. The Balkans and India produced opium which Austria-Hungary, France, Scotland, Germany and others acetylated into heroin and sold to primitives and sophisticates alike. The Balkan wars conflated into WWI with Turkey on the Axis side. The USA was at no time an Ally nor at war with Turkey. Americans sold munitions on credit, certain that Russia and the Allies would win. Communism to Russia, already a problem in 1905, took that heavy out of WWI and the US banks had to get the government in there to defeat Germany or the loans would be forfeit. The European victors refused to repay the loans anyway until compliance was made a condition for floating paper on US exchanges, after which they whined and cheated. Americans came in as Associated, and made separate declarations of war and peace.

    3. On September 16, 1918 Wilson used a Food Czar conservation law of August 10, 1917 to ban all beer, wine and liquor production (except under crony licenses). The law specifically forbad liquor from glucose, which later provided 97% of all alcohol consumed in America during national Prohibition. (No, $5 billion/yr worth wasn’t smuggled in from Canada). This was immensely profitable until Hoover’s crackdown on Hubinger, Corn Products, Hershey’s and Fleischmann using the income tax to enforce prohibition drove money out of banks and into hiding. Every bank in the country shut down pending FDR and the promise of repeal copied from the Liberal Party Platform of 1930. (Yes Virginia, there really was a nonreligious, noncommunist, protolibertarian party behind the repeal of beer prohibition).

  12. “To be sure, the progressives and the New Dealers did accomplish some worthy things in their day”

    Really? Examples? I can’t say its impossible but nothing comes to mind.

    1. Yeah,what did they do that was so ‘worthy’? All the great advances of that period came from the private sector,as it should.Proggs stood in the door way and shouted no.The income tax,beginng of the war on drugs,security state,union control of labor,war on alcohol,high taxes,farm subsidies and control on production. Stealing peoples gold.What did I leave out?

      1. Well they did poison the alcohol supply to keep people from drinking. So they have that going for them which is nice.

        1. True and the ‘right’ people were able to get the good stuff so it only kiiied the dregs.Hell,he who cannot be named would have been proud.

          1. BTW,my mother’s parents hated FDR,they had to destroy some of their crops due to his ‘policies’ and they lived off their crops and live stock and sold some to pay bills.My grandfather did odd jobs also.

            1. That ass hat policy didn’t stop with FDR. They were plowing under apple orchards not too long ago.

    2. I believe DR is referring to allowing women to vote, outlawing booze, building the Panama Canal, and giving us the character of Richard Harrow.

      1. The canal was OK. That other shit sucks.

    3. He wants to be invited to cocktail parties, so like other Reason writers, pays lip services to left wing sensibilities.

  13. “I never cease to be amazed when I encounter this sort of liberal apologia for Woodrow Wilson. This is the same Woodrow Wilson, after all, who imposed Jim Crow on the federal government, praised segregation, glorified the Ku Klux Klan, spied on innocent Americans, censored the mail, trashed the Bill of Rights, and imprisoned multiple critics for the “crimes” of giving speeches, writing editorials, and distributing pamphlets.”

    Other than the racist bits, nothing amazing at all here.

    1. Looks like fairly standard progressive policies. Mencken’s comment about it not being liberalism is still true.

      1. Progressives co-opted the term liberal in order to appear sensitive to individual rights, which of course they are not. Personally I reject their use of the term progressive as well, the term regressive is a far more apt description of their agenda as they are driving us inexorably towards serfdom. Most Presidents including and since Wilson fit into this group of regressive, maybe one exception.

  14. Because Wilson was a virulent racist who imposed white supremacist policies while serving as president of the United States.

    The premise of Wilson’s racism is the same premise that the modern Democratic party still lives by: they believe that non-white minorities are so inferior and weak that government must intervene to get them jobs, education, and in many cases, welfare. The only thing that has changed between early 20th century progressivism and early 21st century progressivism is the nature of the racist policies progressives pursue.

    1. Wilson was abt 14 when the Civil War ended and occupation enforced by black federal troops began. There is little to be proud of in Reconstruction, and much of it is the subject of Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason” essay. Bernard Baruch’s Jewish grandfather was a ku-klux guerrilla fighter when the rebs were convinced the 1860 reenactment of the Tariff of Abominations that had sparked the nullification crisis years before was a sign that Red Republicans (Marxist Income Tax advocates, alluded to in Uncle Tom’s Cabin) were establishing a high-tariff dictatorship. There were nuance distinctions between the first and second Klan–which appears to be more virulently racist and prohibitionist than the first.

      1. Hence, as I was saying, Wilson’s racism was the same kind of racism as that of the modern Democratic party.

  15. The minimum wage discriminated against blacks because they were often less well trained and therefore not profitable at the required rate. Black students are right to reject Wilson and his racist policies. And for all you people who claim that Wilson was a product of his age, then of course but he was moving in exactly the wrong direction. There’s a difference (granted, not much) between saying “I support racism for political expediency” vs “Stop complaining you uppity negroes”. Wilson was definitely in the latter camp.

    Wilson fancied himself as more enlightened than the common man, for whom he was contemptuous, and his tenure reflects that of a Caliphate in the oval office – with a thin veneer of democracy. The irony being that the students clamoring to denounce his name are simultaneously agitating for his power structure.

    1. Black students may be rejecting Wilson but they also vote for, and generally agree with, his ideological heirs. The modern left is not quite as obvious as Wilson was but the outcomes are no less odious. I would point out the lack of self-awareness but having such requires critical thinking, a commodity not part of higher ed today.

      1. The left’s self-awareness regarding the origins of institutionalized racism is evolving, just as Obama has evolved on gay marriage. Wilson and FDR contributed mightily to the legacy of institutionalized racism as part of a long tradition of racist Democratic policies. Ta Nehisi Coates documented this legacy in a recent article about the incarceration state but still supports Obama’s failed policies on race, and almost everything else. The progressive faith in excessive government meddling and regulation continues to end badly but progressives keep doubling down on failed policies. The protests at Princeton are embarrassing to Democrats as is the rest of the history of Democratic racism. I am so looking forward to a post-racial world. I have very little faith in central government’s ability to get us there.

  16. Many modern liberals defend Wilson because of his importance in the development of the American version of fascism (at the time called “progressive”). Note that Wilson’s racism was common in his time, so that much of the criticism can be considered a form of “presentism” — the same thing that leads so many liberals to deep-six the entire history of America (even as they continue to celebrate the Democratic Party, which was at the heart of so much of that racism). But his progressive form of fascism was something new to America, and therefore merits criticism even in terms of his own time as well as ours. The problem with the spoiled brat radicals seeking to remove Wilson’s name is they’re acting for the wrong reason; the worst aspects of Wilson are what they like about him, and seek to emulate today. And even if they were right, in the context of on-going student rioting, every college should stand up to the mob — or face total public defunding.

    1. Wilson was more racist than his time. He lead the country backwards on race.

  17. For the life of me, I cannot think of a single thing that the “progressives” accomplished that was not a net loss on the freedom and prosperity scale.

  18. Sorry PB. Congress never had the authority to debase coinage. (1792 coinage act) “Section 19 of the Act established a penalty of death for debasing the gold or silver coins authorized by the Act, or embezzlement of the metals for those coins, by officers or employees of the mint”

    Also, there was never any law preventing individuals from using their own gold and silver (etc.) coin. If they wished to take bullion to the mint to be made into coins, it would be at their expense.

    Gold and silver were specifically mentioned in the constitution because of the horrors of paper money. I laugh when liberals claim to support “poor, working class, etc.” and go on to support central banking, which has through gov’t help, debased the currency to nothing, and has robbed individuals of purchasing power.

    1. Wrong in substance. The day FDR was sworn in he received a proposed Executive order from Hoover urging per Fed resolution, “under Section 5(b) of the Act of October 6, 1917… that the President may investigate, regulate or prohibit, by means of licenses or otherwise… any transactions in foreign exchange and the export, hoarding, melting or earmarkings of gold or silver coin or bullion or currency…” FDR’s “bank holiday” proclamation adapted from this established fines (for corporations) plus imprisonment (for individuals) basically making private possession of gold a felony. The Wilson Congress gave the Executive power to do as he pleased with coinage. Hoover’s Presidential papers make clear the Depression his enforcement caused is unimaginable outside the former Soviet bloc. The online version of FDR’s March 6 proclamation is heavily redacted.

      1. The online version of FDR’s March 6 proclamation is heavily redacted.

        I dislike FDR’s policies just as much as the next libertarian. But please take off your tinfoil hat. There is no such thing as “the online version” of anything. And if you think that it’s hard to find an unredacted version of some document, put it online yourself. If it’s important enough, submit it to the Internet Archive.

  19. I’m no fan of the precious snowflakes that are all over college campuses nowadays, but they do have a point on Wilson. But I am surprised that they have missed Wilson’s role in implementing homophobic policies in the federal government. Wilson made the ban on gays serving in the military explicit for the first time in American history. Wilson’s Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt also authorized his own little witch-hunt of gays serving in the military.

  20. Liberal response:

    “Oh no, you see. That’s back when Democrats were really Republicans. This was before the infamous switch!”

    Alternate response:

    “That racist piece of shit teabagger. Wait—he was a Democrat!?! He was just misunderstood, see?”

  21. Eugenics was “progressive” at the time. So what theories of racial superiority. Progs have only changed their tune – racism is only okay when they do it. Affirmative Action is not racist because it’s “progressive.” Et cetera…

    On the other hand, true liberalism has not changed much since the 1800s. Liberalism has remained entirely consistent on it’s support for equality (of opportunity, of course), the rights of the marginalized classes to be equal to the majority under a consistent rule of law, it’s suspicion of “big government” and all it curtails, and it’s advocacy of individual liberty.

    1. *Note that I am using two different definitions of “racism.”

  22. I’m perfectly okay with this. Everyone here makes light of the hypocrisy in their demands compared to history, but everyone misses that liberals are finally starting to eat their own. That’s a good thing.

    I think they should also look at the similarities between the NFL draft/trades in general vs. slave auctions. Once they’ve pissed all over that institution, I think UAW members should start to consider what their environmentalist brethren want to do to their auto jobs.

    If they have extra energy, they should consider that their progressive politicians have somehow, allowed them to become poorer, dumber, and more dependent in last 50 years, all-while, the prog politicians have managed to gain more power and stature.

    I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Closet socialists are not liberals. It takes an inordinate amount of cowardice or stupidity to justify calling things by the wrong name. A is A, and looters are looters, capisce?
      Look up “Liberal Party” America=repel prohibition and blue laws, no to socialism; Australia= cut taxes, legal abortion, legal weed; England= libertarianism without courage or committment; Elsewhere= low taxes, no to socialism

      1. My point exactly about how conservative Republicans who comment here and elsewhere lie about their true intentions and motives by hiding behind the “libertarian” label. They don’t have to balls to say, “Look, I’m a partisan right-wing Republican who supports “libertarianism” only when it doesn’t stray too far from my conservative ideology; for example, I love less business regulation and low taxes, but I want more Bush/Cheney-type wars, sluts shouldn’t be allowed to kill their fetuses, and the fags can’t get married.” Just as there are way too many “cafeteria Christians,” there are way too many “liberty-lovers” who are selective pick and choose “libertarians.”

  23. My grandfather did time in federal prison for protesting Woodrow’s war. Woodrow was a traitorous scumbag who should have died at the end of a rope.


    1. Now you’re talking! If there is a proper revolution overthrowing the progs,I want the newly created position of Lord High Executioner. We have a lot of progs, and a lot of dump trucks ready to discard those progs in landfills.

      1. And you call liberals fascist? YOU sound like a PSYCHOPATHIC SERIAL KILLER. Are you related to Adolf Hitler, Stalin or bin Laden? Nah, you’re just a little wimp who couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag, hiding behind his computer. Someone should “stand their ground” against you.

        1. Wow, your sarcasm meter is broken. But your post sounds similar to what liberals (along with statists, etc.) are all about. That is advocate extortion, and theivery while hiding behind the state and it’s standing armies, knowing very well they could never do those things to their neighbors.

        2. Lighten up VL. I was being somewhat hyperbolic. Although we do need a massive new Red Scare to get rid of the progs. Unless you look forward to living in a Soviet/Maoist society that progressivekind has planned for you.

          PS: if you come to Spokane, I would be delighted to provide you with an education on my current physical capabilities.

          1. Yeah, I’ll bring a gun like Georgie Zimmerman. Actually, I’m very tall and, unfortunately, very fat, so I can just squash you by sitting on you. Ha. Ha. Ha. By the way, can we get rid of Dickhead Cheney and Faux News, too?

          2. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me a crypto-republican war mongoloid like Suicidy lives in white hood commune country aka Spokane.
            Do you racist, govt-hating gun-nutbags have a newsletter where you offer free room & board to newcomers in orde to attract more crazies to the commune?

    2. My grandfather fought in Woodrow’s war the efforts to make good on loans to Allied belligerents after Russia went Soviet and quit, but got busted for making beer! Wilson was a tool of his own bureaucracy, manipulated by superstitious fanatics and Daddy Warbucks own Federal Reserve system.

  24. I want to know why anyone continues to defend *FDR*. I know why libs do, because New Deal, but everyone else? His internment policy was the ultimate example of “if a Republican did it…”. If FDR had done all the same things, but been R, he’d be vilified as Worse Than Hitler (TM) up to today. Just goes to show that Principals Over Principles has been a thing far longer than we think.

    1. Criticism of FDR would be sacrilege.

    2. FDR pushed in the 21st Amendment after National Prohibition completely destroyed the US Economy and turned the nation into a police state. Herbert Hoover’s “moratorium on brains” also helped finance the rise of Christian nationalsocialism in Germany and American fascism in These States. Never mistake relief at the opportunity to finally enjoy a beer with no bribes or billy-clubs for enthusiasm with any particular grinning politician. Repeal of Prohibition made FDR president-for-life, just as enforcement of prohibition (via communist income tax & asset-forfeiture) made everyone but politicians and cops poor. The GOP tried for several elections after 1932 to again ban beer, and had to settle for jailing folks for hemp.

      1. That’s it. I’m running for president on the “free beer for everyone” platform. Once you all get stinking drunk, I can do whatever I want!

        1. Free beer!
          Dental Plan !

  25. Seems to me that liberals typically don’t defend Wilson, much less apologize for him or denounce him. They just pretend he never existed unless the subject of WWI comes up.

    1. And let’s be honest, when it comes to millennial progs, they likely have no clue who Wilson even is. Outside of progressive rhetoric, snark, and shit for their gender/ethnic/sociology classes do these idiots even have the slightest knowledge of anyone was before they were born? Probably not many of them.

      1. Hey, if you hate “gender/ethnic/sociology” classes so much, you must LOVE homophobic, male-chauvinistic racists like FDR and Wilson. Ha. Ha. Ha. By the way, stop using that, what you apparently think is cool and hip, jargon like “progs” and “millennial;” it’s so fucking annoying. You must be dyslexic.

        1. Ooh, new troll! Yay!

          1. So…..does this mean you support FDR’s and Wilson’s right-wing racist actions? Oh, I see, now that a liberal is agreeing that Wilson and FDR had racist, homophobic and xenophobic tendencies, you immediately have to change your original position and disagree. Sounds a lot like what Chimp Face (he really does look like a monkey) Hannity does. By the way, “yay” rhymes with “gay.” Are you gay? No, I just kid the fags. Now, if Limbaugh or the puppets at Faux News were to say something like this, you’d dismiss it as merely being “politically incorrect,” but if a liberal were to say it, you people on the right would have a little hissy fit.

            1. So…..does this mean you support FDR’s and Wilson’s right-wing racist actions? Oh, I see, now that a liberal is agreeing that Wilson and FDR had racist, homophobic and xenophobic tendencies, you immediately have to change your original position and disagree.

              The meds that your doctor gave you… they’re supposed to stabilize your mood and reduce your bi-polar tendencies. The fact that you fabricate a worldview wholecloth and attempt to pin it to me is probably something your shrink can give you another pill for.

              Sounds a lot like what Chimp Face (he really does look like a monkey) Hannity does.

              I checked… I’ve run out of fucks to give about Sean Hannity. You, on the other hand, seem to have some sort of Fox News obsession. The fact that you fall into ad hominem attacks before even making stating a position really indicts your inability to critically think and form coherent arguments.

              By the way, “yay” rhymes with “gay.” Are you gay? No, I just kid the fags.

              Come on chippy, stay focused on one ad hominem attack at a time. Your adderall should help with that. No, I’m not gay, but I don’t harass people who are gay. However, you’re attacking me because you think I’m gay, which is really weird coming from somebody who bitches like a teenage girl about homophobia.

              1. Now, if Limbaugh or the puppets at Faux News were to say something like this, you’d dismiss it as merely being “politically incorrect,” but if a liberal were to say it, you people on the right would have a little hissy fit.

                Say what? Accuse me of being gay? Neither Limbaugh or “Faux News” (are you 15 or something??) have seen fit to question me about my sexuality. Say that FDR and Woodrow Wilson are racists? I’m pretty sure Limbaugh has gone there. I know Levin has. I’ve read when Judge Napolitano has. I’ll embrace any “liberal” who denounces Wilson and FDR as racists.

                I seriously recommend that you get current on your psychiatric medications, calm the fuck down, and google “the art of rhetoric.” Your efforts to communicate on the Internet will be greatly improved if you do those things.

                1. The “art of rhetoric?” Give me a break, dummy. So….you’re so concerned about “rules?” Hmmm, what does that remind me of? You’re so insensitive and, apparently, PC, that you can’t even take a little joke; that’s what your hero Limbaugh would say. As for the fat druggy, obviously, he’s never called YOU gay or implied it, but he, like Psychos Levin and Savage, have questioned others’ “manhood.” You’re too sensitive and hung up on “rules.” Now, go back to watching your favorite entertainment network Faux News. Ha. Ha. Ha.

              2. Bi-polar meds, you say? Nah, the only thing I take is Nexium for severe GERD; hurts like a motherfucker. I suggest you take a “man pill” to cure your sensitive political correctness. Ha. Ha. Ha.

        2. VL, you ise the word ‘dyslexic’, but it doesn’t mean what our think it does. And if you don’t like terms like prog or millennial, you sure came to the wrong place.

          1. Actually, dummy, “dyslexia” as a disorder does involve not being able to fully or properly process words. In fact, one of my cousins has it, and he frequently uses “shortened” versions of words. I don’t know where your definition comes from.

    2. When I was in high school, the party line was that woody was a hero because he tried to make the League of Nations work. Fuck that.


  26. I just have to laugh reading the responses to this. You Faux News-loving Republicans (you’re certainly not true “libertarians”) want to have it both ways here. On one hand, you agree, as I do, that Wilson (like FDR) was a racist, homophobic, male-chauvinistic, among other things, asshole. On the other, you think the college protesters are idiots. What? Very informative, as your “cognitive dissonance” reveals your thoroughly right-wing conservative (NOT libertarian) ideology. This is one of the problems with political debate. Far too many people don’t have the ability to acquiesce and admit that the opposing side may be right, because if you do, it gives them credibility. I suppose you’re not at all comfortable with having strange political bedfellows. I, for one, can say Wilson and FDR aren’t real liberals. Why, look what those poor Japs had to endure. Ha. Ha. Ha. Now, what…..let’s see. Do you condone a statement like that, or condemn it? Is it cool because it’s politically incorrect, or is it bad because it’s coming from a liberal? A big conundrum for the addled conservative mind. Fuck you, bitches!

    1. I, for one, can say Wilson and FDR aren’t real liberals.

      I, for one, can say that pretty much none of the people currently calling themselves “liberals” in the US are real liberals.

  27. Dear so-called “libertarians,” stop defending a conservative Republican party (and for that matter, Faux News) that is decidedly anti-liberty. Stop defending a party that is pro-death penalty, pro-massive military build up, pro-unjustified wars, pro-drones, pro-surveillance, pro-drug war (just say no?), pro-public school prayer, pro-religious right, pro-eminent domain, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-immigrant, etc., etc. The “libertarian” movement has been hijacked by conservatives, as evidenced by most of the comments on Reason.com, and best exemplified by phonies like Rand Paul, who think using different labeling will make them sound more appealing, thus more successful in elections.

    1. Her observations match mine. Rand Paul failed to endorse murdering hippies and foreigners (hence 10th in bookie odds), and Trump is allegedly washing out of the primaries after liking libertarians and potheads (albeit still in 2nd place, after the christianofascist Reason shrinks from criticizing).

    2. You need to get over your infantile and simplistic us-vs-them thinking. Most libertarians realize that Democrats and Republicans are both equally shitty choices. We generally vote based on issues and strategy, meaning that we switch back and forth between different parties depending on candidates and issues. Personally, I think the presidential candidate that is likely going to accomplish least is the best candidate.

      1. “Us versus them thinking?” Hey, I’m just mimicking the partisan behavior heard and seen all day/every day on right-wing, conservative Republican talk radio and your favorite propaganda network Faux News; and the comment sections here at Reason.com. Again, the “libertarian” movement has been high-jacked by conservative loons (to quote O’Reilly; “loons” seems to be one of his favorite talking points) trying to hide behind a different label because they think the term “libertarian” sounds a lot better than “conservative,” right-wing,” or “Republican,” and that that duplicity will fool enough people into supporting them. Judging by most of the idiots here, they’ve been successful at making the terms synonymous.

        1. I love the juxtaposition of “Faux News,” which is an indicator of no critical thinking skills, alongside calling the rest of us idiots.

          We haven’t had an angry troll in a while, so this is shaping up to be a fun one!

          1. Hey, dummy, the mere fact that you’re so upset indicates just how correct my assessment is. You are, to quote your aforementioned hero O’Reilly, a “partisan LOON.” Ha. Ha. Ha.

            1. Awww, Rachel Maddow found Reason.com.

              Try harder, troll.

              1. Are you O’ Reilly or Chimp Face Hannity?

              2. Incidentally, I haven’t watched more than a few minutes of Maddow’s show in years, so don’t think you’re upsetting me. I rarely watch Faux News OR MSNBC anymore. I can say, however, that at least the latter doesn’t hide behind that “fair and balanced” bullshit. They’re transparent in their partisan views, and they don’t outright lie and omit the way Faux does. I’m so glad that the term “Faux News” angers you so much. You’d think I was insulting one of your family or loved ones. Well, I guess that’s what you consider them, and it’s where you get your talking points from. To quote Chimp Face or O’Reilly, “Stop with the talking points!”

        2. Uh, this is “Reason” not “Fox”. At least get your facts straight.

          Your rants would better serve your needs over at:


          1. Hey, dummy, I just got home from work, so I’ve also just read your above response to my comment. Obviously, as it goes without saying, I know this is Reason.com, not Faux News.com, but your suggestion that “Your rants would better serve your needs over at….” is indicative of an intolerant mindset that seemingly most of YOU PEOPLE (remember Ross Perot) who comment here, and certainly most of those at Faux and their rabid partisan fans, have. You don’t want to hear any dissenting point of view that challenges your right-wing conservative Republican ideology, which makes you just as guilty of being as “politically correct” as you claim liberals are. You, like almost every other idiot here, sound like a little dictator who wants to hear from only those who toe the line by agreeing with you. You want this to be your, and those of like mind’s, comment forum. Yeah, you can say that I’m exaggerating way too much, but my response is, if you people can exaggerate and use terms such as “fascist” and “dictator,” so can I. Haven’t you read the harsh rhetoric on here? The right can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

        3. Hey, I’m just mimicking the partisan behavior heard and seen all day/every day on right-wing, conservative Republican talk radio and your favorite propaganda network Faux News;

          Yes, you are. Now what does that have to do with libertarianism?

          Again, the “libertarian” movement has been high-jacked by conservative loons

          Just because libertarians generally think that President Obama is an incompetent liar doesn’t mean that we are “conservative”.

          and that that duplicity will fool enough people into supporting them

          Actually, I will probably support Republicans come next election. Why? Because I think the best chance for libertarianism is to have Democrats and Republicans perpetually at each other’s throats and sabotaging each other’s legislation. In another four or eight years, I may then vote Democrat again.

    3. Sadly, I agree. Fusionism has done more harm than good, and the neoconservatives made
      libertarians their bitch.

    4. stop defending a conservative Republican party

      You weren’t around here during the Bush regime, were you?

      Stupid cunt.


  28. Woodrow Wilson was a prohibitionist eager to ban beer in Atlantic City, and susceptible to William Jennings Bryan’s espousal of yet another communist income tax to replace the one overturned in 1895, in the deep depression it had caused. This was enough for T Roosevelt, guilt-ridden over family exploitation of the Chinese via opium addiction (which also affected his brother) and miffed that his prohibition enforcement failed in NYC. Taft preferred individual rights and economic freedom over a missionary-looter-police State, and lost when TR split coercive progressives off of the GOP. This ushered in Wilson, Bryan, another communist manifesto income tax, national beer and wine prohibition, and the Harrison Act (amid shrieking NYT accounts of “cocaine negroes”) and the Fed. Drivers were the urge to bring taxpayers into the gunsights of predatory Treasury agents and looter politicians. Racial collectivism was relatively insignificant (all contenders were collectivist), except as a driver for looter prohibitionism.

  29. Progressives and or modern liberals follow only power. They respect nothing else.

    1. True of all political parties and all politicians. Not limited to proggies or liberals by any stretch.

  30. From the Politico article: “And [Wilson] nominated Louis Brandeis?the nation’s leading champion of worker protections?for the Supreme Court.”

    Brandeis cared so much about the rights of workers that he thought the state could require them to get permission of potential competitors before going into the ice business:

    “…Some people assert that our present plight is due, in part, to the limitations set by courts upon experimentation in the fields of social and economic science; and to the discouragement to which proposals for betterment there have been subjected otherwise. There must be power in the states and the nation to remould, through experimentation, our economic practices and institutions to meet changing social and economic needs….

    “To stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility. Denial of the right to experiment may be fraught with serious consequences to the nation. It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

    To get the best effect, you should have Dr. Frankenstein read it during a stormy night, while in the laboratory room of his castle.

    1. At time, Brandeis was dissenting, but his dissent is now conventional wisdom.

      1. at *the* time.

      2. “….Under the [Oklahoma] law, anyone who wanted to enter the ice business had to first justify his plans by providing “competent testimony and proof showing the necessity for the manufacture, sale or distribution of ice” at all proposed locations. In other words, upstart ice vendors faced the virtually impossible task of securing the government’s permission to compete against a state-sanctioned ice monopoly.

        “That’s the “courageous” experiment Brandeis waxed so poetic about. But what’s so “novel” about a business currying favor with the government in order to suppress competition? That’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Contrast Brandeis’ quick deference to the state with conservative Justice George Sutherland’s majority opinion striking the monopoly down. “In our constitutional system,” Sutherland wrote, “there are certain essentials of liberty with which the state is not entitled to dispense in the interests of experiments.””

        1. I bet you thought I’d have too much class to provide this link.

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  32. What can one say? Some of the nicest so called liberals are just dumb! Defending Wilson, the most imperialistic president of them all, is utterly perverse. But some people will bite the bullet even if it kills them. Maybe this is another piece of evidence showing that the main objective of the Left is to amass power, to boost the state, nothing more noble at all. Some defend Oliver Wendel Holmes simply because he wrote a defense of expanded state power (in his Lochner dissent), never mind his support of innumerable tyrannical measures (e.g., eugenics).

  33. In 1916, Wilson ran for reelection based on the idea “He kept us out of war”, meaning the “War to End all war” raging in Europe. A month after the inauguration, Wlson asked Congress to declare war and enter World War One. Sound familiar?

    1. Put some blackface on Woodrow, and he could pass for our current president. Is that what you’re saying?


    2. …are doomed to repeat it. The most important teacher in any high school is the history teacher.

  34. How could one be a student and fan of H.L. Mencken and NOT know – and despise – “Saint Woodrow” Wilson for the long pile of dung that Princetonian putz had so truly been?

    “…he accomplished with a great deal more skill than they did themselves the great task of reducing all the difficulties of the hour to a few sonorous and unintelligible phrases, often with theological overtones ? that he knew better than they did how to arrest and enchant the boobery with words that were simply words, and nothing else. The vulgar like and respect that sort of balderdash. A discourse packed with valid ideas, accurately expressed, is quite incomprehensible to them. What they want is the sough of vague and comforting words ? words cast into phrases made familiar to them by the whooping of their customary political and ecclesiastical rabble-rousers, and by the highfalutin style of the newspapers that they read. Woodrow knew how to conjure up such words. He knew how to make them glow, and weep. He wasted no time upon the heads of his dupes, but aimed directly at their ears, diaphragms and hearts.”

  35. Wilson also got the 16th Amendment enacted which gave the federal government the power to call literally anything “income” and levy a tax on it.

    “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

  36. More Liberal BS… Democrats, Liberals, and even some Libertarians are so ignorant of history and lack critical thinking skills that they just do not get the idea that TIMES CHANGE and that in Wilson’s time his set of beliefs was not all that unusual.

    Only an idiot would try to judge someone from the past with todays standards…

    1. Times change? Hmm…..you’re such as asshole! By your addled logic, we should all just call Hitler and Stalin lovable fuzzy teddy bears who were just acting on the zeitgeist of the times. Also, if you want to use the times change argument, we could say that the Constitution is a living, breathing document that can be amended to accommodate the ever changing mores of society. Do you apply this logic to say, abortion, gay marriage, drugs……? I think I know the answer, because you’re not a real libertarian. Intellectual consistency be damned! By the way, right-wing talk radio psychos like Limbaugh, Savage and Levin have also accused FDR and Wilson of being racist hypocrites.

  37. Interestingly, I’ve paid little attention to Wilson, except for the recent call to remove his name from a university.

    Did you know that Woodrow polls in the top 10 presidents (often #5 or #6)? I sure didn’t. Just check Wiki : bit.ly/1YFDTwf

    But really, is Woodrow really any worse than say Abe Lincoln, who cared little about slavery, and is easily as bad as Syria’s Assad when it came time to ‘preserve the Union’ during our Civil ( boy there’s a misnomer, right? ) War? Or say Truman, who nuked two civilian populations and slept like a baby that night? Something we point the finger at when an Assad or Saddam does it on a considerably smaller scale. and something we studiously avoid when Israel does it. Go figure.

    It’s very hard to judge people beyond a generation, because society changes and we grew up under different beliefs, understandings, and of course, the myths that surround people who came before us. Personally, I’d like to see us focus on issues we can fix now.

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  39. Well, we have a Fed with its nose in how we marry, how we’re educated, our labor, our health care, any and all personal information, which intoxicants we’re allowed…what’s left?

    I feel like the next issue for liberals will be to come after the production of food in a big way. I mean, we have a right to the food, right? Isn’t food a right? If college is my right, then by Urlic so is a tofurkey sandwich and organic cucumber salad!

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