The winner of the culture war gets to write history (Opinion)
Jim and podcast partner Bob Williams took note of an online petition to change the names of both the Christopher Columbus and Woodrow Wilson middle schools in Clifton over the troubling aspects of the legacies their namesakes left behind.
Historians have noted Columbus' reported enslavement of Indigenous people and the brutal rule that saw the Spanish crown arrest the explorer. Wilson — a New Jersey governor and Princeton president before becoming a United States President — re-segregated federal offices and once screened a pro-KKK movie in the White House.
The histories of both have caught renewed attention in the Black Lives Matter movement and amid demonstrations calling for a reckoning with America's history on race. Demonstrators have also demanded several monuments to Confederate soldiers or historical figures who owned enslaved people be taken down.
"You could strike the names of half the presidents that lived during that particular era because those were pretty much the laws of the land at that time. Not good ones but that's what it was and they were operating accordingly," Jim says.
Jim questions whether we'll change the name of Drumthwacket, the official residence of the sitting governor of New Jersey, because of its ties to Wilson.
The name "Drumthwacket" is a Scots-Gaelic name that means "wooded hill,' according to its official website. It was originally built in 1835 by businessman Charles Smith Olden when he was governor. It was purchased by industrialist and banker Moses Taylor Pyne from Olden's widow in 1893 who enlarged the mansion and is described as being an "extremely generous benefactor" to Princeton University who helped bring Wilson to the school and become its president.
"They have his office, which I've been in a good number of times in the governor's office," Jim says, adding that Wilson used that office while he was president.
Jim says the political left considers itself to be the "winner" in the the latest political and culture war.
"Winners get to choose what history is. This is always been the case. Whoever won the war gets to determine who was the good guy and who was the bad guy," Jim says.
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That's just part of what Jim and Bob Williams take on in the latest installment of his show, also available as a podcast. Check out the full episode to hear the rest.
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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5's Jim Gearhart. Any opinions expressed are Jim's own.
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