The 7/1/20 editorial “ Revisiting history” seems to tar Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt with the same brush.
Although, it is true that the Museum of Natural History is removing the statue at its front entrance of Teddy Roosevelt, it is not doing it for the same reason that Princeton University is removing Woodrow Wilson’s name from a building on the campus. Wilson was a raging racist who showed “Birth of a Nation” at the White House even though the movie depicted the Klu Klux Klan as a righteous organization that saved white women from black men.
Teddy Roosevelt had Booker T. Washington as a dinner guest at the White House in 1901. Since segregation was the law of the land, when the press got hold of the story, having Mr. Washington dine at the White House with white women at the table caused such an uproar some of Roosevelt’s staff implied that it wasn’t really dinner, the two men just shared a working lunch while they discussed politics.
Many years after the Roosevelt’s had retired from politics in the 1930s, Mrs. Roosevelt was asked if Mr. Washington had a sandwich at the White House with Teddy or a dinner and she said he had eaten dinner with the family. The statue of Teddy Roosevelt is being removed by the Museum of Natural History because it has Teddy on the back of a horse high above a Native American and an African American. The statue seems to many to depict the white man, Teddy, as far superior to the lesser beings below him.
I believe if the statue was just Teddy, a noted conservationist, on a horse there would be no controversy about it staying in front of the Museum of Natural History. Teddy Roosevelt’s ideas on race were not up to speed with modern ideas of equality, but he was ahead of his time and he had a far better perspective on the subject than many later occupants of the White House, such as Woodrow Wilson.