Its been a bounty the last few weeks for the mythbusting business. Sometimes its like this, there are a bunch of stories that come out tearing apart common knowledge and bringing new light to old stories. This last few weeks three major stories came out that all are of this type, and all dealing with 20th century major events.
The first is about President Woodrow Wilson. This is a bit dated, as he was president during World War I, but there's a film being worked on about Wilson, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Wilson was pretty much the most significant force in turning the Democratic Party to the left in America and established the principle of spreading Democracy through the world.
It seems that Wilson is considered a great president and leader who was a force in civil rights and progressivism by many, and certainly there are schools and streets named after the guy all across America. However, there's more to the man than most know.
When running for president, Wilson campaigned on civil rights issues and promoted the idea that he'd be a big friend of the "negro" as was common use at the time. The federal highways website for some reason has a section on civil rights, and in it there is this passage:
According to Wilson biographer Arthur S. Link, African-Americans strongly supported Wilson for President in the hope that he would treat them with compassion. In supporting Wilson, African-Americans had to overlook the fears raised by his Virginia birth. They also had to overlook the fact that as president of Princeton University he had prevented African-Americans from enrolling and that as a professor, university president, and Governor of New Jersey, he had never ‘lifted his voice in defense of the minority race,’ as Link put it.But once in office, things were a bit different. Richard Wormser writes at PBS quite a bit about Wilson's actions while in office as opposed to his rhetoric seeking it, in a section on Jim Crow laws:
At one point, he released a statement to the National Colored Democratic League assuring the members that he opposed ‘unfair discriminating laws against any class or race’ and believed ‘that the qualifications for voting should be the same for all men.
In 1912 Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic candidate for president, promised fairness and justice for blacks if elected. In a letter to a black church official, Wilson wrote, ‘Should I become President of the United States they may count upon me for absolute fair dealing for everything by which I could assist in advancing their interests of the race.’ But after the election, Wilson changed his tune. He dismissed 15 out of 17 black supervisors who had been previously appointed to federal jobs segregating their departments.The Wilson administration brought Jim Crow to Washington DC, adding segregated bathrooms, water fountains, cafeterias, and work places. In fact, when president of Princeton University, he barred blacks from admission into the institution. In 1956, NAACP founder W.E.B. DuBois wrote:
Throughout the country, blacks were segregated or dismissed from federal positions. In Georgia, the head of the Internal Revenue division fired all black employees: ‘There are no government positions for Negroes in the South. A Negro's place in the corn field.’ he said. The President's wife, Ellen Wilson, was said to have had a hand in segregating employees in Washington, encouraging department chiefs to assign blacks separate working, eating, and toilet facilities. To justify segregation, officials publicized complaints by white women, who were thought to be threatened by black men's sexuality and disease.
In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War.”Booker T Washington was as disillusioned. Somehow I doubt any of that is going to show up in the Wilson biopic.
This next one is a bit more recent, as it happened in the 1970s. The Roe v Wade case has been presented to us as a woman maligned and abused by the system who cried out for justice and a heroic, crusading court freed American womyn everywhere with their far seeing feminist decision.
The truth of the matter is a lot more seedy and less heroic. Putting aside the atrocious, lousy argument and decision just in terms of jurisprudence and constitutional law (even the law clerk who wrote up the majority decision was certain it would be only temporary because it was so shoddy), the story behind the case is not very nice.
For instance, "Jane Roe" never got an abortion. She had her baby and gave it up for adoption. "Roe" herself is now an anti-abortion activist, and is deeply saddened by how her case turned out. According to the woman herself, she had gotten pregnant not from a rape but from a casual affair with a man.
She also claims her lawyers misled her about abortion and pregnancy, and given her background she probably was pretty ignorant about it all. Now retired, she was an activist for a while, and even tried in 2004 to get the Supreme Court to overturn her case, unsuccessfully.
And the final story is even more recent, from the 1990s. When Matthew Shepard was found beat to death, his story exploded onto the national scene, greatly assisted by statements by President Clinton. Matthew Shepard was a homosexual and had AIDS. He was tortured and murdered in Wyoming and the narrative was this was obviously the work of hateful right-wing bigots in some backward sister-marrying podunk state.
From this crime, the big push for "hate crime" laws began, leveraging political correctness and the growing guilt about how homosexuals were treated into new legislation punishing people for why they committed a crime rather than what they did. In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and President Obama signed it into law. Shepard is essentially the poster boy for AIDS victims and homosexual "hate crimes."
However, even while the hype was the loudest about the Shepherd case, there were reports that things were not all as they seemed. The news magazine show 20/20 ran a segment that showed that there was evidence that this was about drugs, not hate, but critics immediately attacked 20/20 for ignoring the facts and acting in homophobia.
Fast forward to this year, when a book comes out. Written by a homosexual man who spent 13 years researching the case, it seems that the 20/20 segment was more accurate than the popular narrative. According to The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard by Stephen Jimenez, the beating and murder was due to a meth-crazed rage during a robbery, and both murderers are probably bisexual. It seems that Shepard was a drug user and had been with these men in the past.
The murderers claimed they lured Shepard into their car and freaked out when he came on to them, which only helped push the rumors, but since when is the word of a psychotic murderer trying to get out of their actions in court trustworthy and more important than the evidence?
It was too late though, Shepard had become the homosexual martyr, the icon of bigotry and homophobia that America was wracked by, according to the left. And who cares what the real story is anyway, when this will help get legislation passed?
I was going to write about a few other cases, such as Sacco and Vanzetti, but I think they'll wait a bit. It just keeps turning out that almost every major story - especially those that help the leftist agenda - in the past are at least partly, if not largely false and distorted.*This is part of the Common Knowledge Series - things we know that ain't so.