Be careful how you pander to the mob: By confessing at length to “systemic racism” at Princeton University, President Christopher Eisgruber just bought himself a civil-rights investigation.
The federal Department of Education now threatens to claw back at least $75 million in funding that depended on the university’s claims that it was in compliance with nondiscrimination laws — claims clearly at odds with Eisgruber’s “woke” words.
Perhaps it’s just an epic troll by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as many colleges and universities are rushing to appease irate undergrad demonstrators (who are mostly just acting on what these schools teach).
Princeton’s particular problem was the now-renamed Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Wilson was Eisgruber’s distant predecessor as the university’s president — and a bigot.
In the White House, he not only screened D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” (which glorifies the Confederacy and the odious Ku Klux Klan) he dramatically set back racial equality by ordering the segregation of the federal Civil Service after decades of a successful, merit-based racial integration.
He arguably did some good stuff, too — bringing America into the First World War to save the West from the Kaiser’s barbarity, and laying key ground for the New Deal. But that doesn’t matter in the Woke Academy. Last June, the school’s Board of Trustees voted to drop Wilson’s name.
Yes, it was only in 2020 that Princeton graduated its first black valedictorian (Nicholas Johnson, a Canadian) in 2 ¹/₂ centuries. But it’s silly to think the school, with its drastic affirmative-action admissions policies, has been racist by any normal standard.
But woke isn’t rational, so DeVos is right to push Eisgruber to choose: Are his recent extreme efforts to appease the protesters wise? If racial quotas for faculty hiring seem extreme but are the only moral step now, then maybe the school was lying about “nondiscrimination” on its federal forms all those years.
The reality is, it’s utterly foolish to judge the past by today’s standards — let alone the standards of a modern radical few.
Eisgruber and other elite academic leaders should consider the DOE letter a wake-up call — and start leading, rather than bending to the trendy.
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