President Donald Trump has called the decision by Princeton University to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its building on its campus as “incredibly stupid”. His comments on Monday add to the ongoing debate on how the U.S reckons with historical figures tied to racism.
He also tagged the Democrats as being ‘stupid’ after they pushed for the removal of actor John Wayne’s name and statue from the airport in Orange County, California.
“Can anyone believe that Princeton just dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson from their highly respected policy center,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Now the Do-Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredibly stupid!”
Wilson, who served as U.S president from 1913 to 1921 implemented racist policies such as resegregating federal government workers, according to Politico. He also served as the school’s president from 1902 to 1910 implementing racist policies that blocked black students from applying.
Prior to his time as president, he was also governor of New Jersey for two years.
Can anyone believe that Princeton just dropped the name of Woodrow Wilson from their highly respected policy center. Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredible stupidity!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2020
Announcing its decision to remove Wilson’s name from its residential building as well as public and International affairs school, the Trustees said the decision was subject to student demands and protests opposing racism and police brutality.
“The trustees concluded that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school of college whose scholars, students, alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” said Christopher L. Eisgruber, Princeton’s president, in a statement.
Eisgruber said that trustees decided in April 2016 to review some changes to the university to make it “more inclusive and more honest about its history” but decided toretain Wilson’s name. It, however, revisited the issue in light of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others, Philadelphia CBS reported.
In a rally last week, Politico reported that Trump decried what he called the “totalitarian” left for wanting to take down monuments to slave owners and Confederate figures.
“They hate our history, they hate our values and they have everything we prize as Americans,” Trump said in Phoenix. “Our country didn’t grow great with them. It grew great with you and your thoughts process and your ideology. The left-wing mob is trying to demolish our heritage, so they can replace it with a new oppressive regime that that alone control.”
Heartened to see my alma mater make this change, and even prouder of the students who’ve been advocating for this kind of change on campus for years. Let’s keep finding ways to be more inclusive to all students—at Princeton and at every school across the country. https://t.co/jQd0TmJe1r
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 29, 2020
Meanwhile, a former First Lady, Michelle Obama, has applauded the name change. In a tweet, the prominent alumni said she was “even prouder” of students who called for the change.
“Heartening to see my alma mater make this change, and even prouder of the students who’ve been advocating for this kind of change on campus for years,” Obama wrote. “Let us keep finding ways to be more inclusive to all students – at Princeton and at every school across the country.”