Opinion: Cancel Culture Kills Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, NJ
Another one bites the dust.
You heard about this push for years to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the high school in Camden. It was announced in June of 2020 that it would be done. All that was left to be decided was what to replace it with.
That same year the process of choosing a new name began. A committee was formed. Suggestions were made. Names were offered like U.S. Rep. John Lewis the civil rights titan. President Barack Obama. Even the late Camden school board president, Martha Wilson, was considered.
Anything it seemed would be better than the former U.S. president known as a racist.
That same summer of 2020 when all this really hit a fever pitch the city also took down a statue of Christopher Columbus. Cancel culture would not be denied.
In the end, it was decided Tuesday evening in a vote at the board of education meeting the new name will be Eastside High School.
Camden High School East and East Camden High School had also been in the running. But after 92 years of bearing Woodrow Wilson’s name the new name will be one not connected to any particular person but to an area, a community, a neighborhood.
If cancel culture had a problem with the segregationist ways of the former two-term president (who it was said was fond of telling “darky” jokes in private) then a broader appeal representing everyone was probably a sound idea.
Each little victory cancel culture notches, it assumes it is somehow righting the wrongs of 200 years ago. And it's not.
Yet does it end there? Or will the cancel culture crowd only be happy if his name is taken out of history books?
He did do some important things when he became president after having served as governor of New Jersey and president of Princeton University.
He shaped the country’s economic policies, seeing through the Federal Reserve Act and lowering tariffs. He shored up anti-trust laws. He was the chief architect of the League of Nations.
Then will cancel culture still not rest its case? Will the famous names of every slave owner have to come off of every building and every town? Will the Washington Townships in the counties of Warren and Gloucester and Morris need to change names?
The problem I have with cancel culture is how very much of it is virtue signaling. When it reaches into the past, it judges it by 2022 standards. Of course, the past is going to lose. It’s not a fair fight.
And for each little victory cancel culture notches, it assumes it is somehow righting the wrongs of 200 years ago.
And it’s not.
These things will always have happened. Woodrow Wilson will always have been our 28th president and a segregationist. You cannot change that. History is indelible. That’s why it’s better to teach and learn from it than to pat yourself on the back pretending a thorn hurts less in calling the rose by another name.