A Small Victory for Pluralism at UVa

UVA President Jim Ryan (left) poses with members of the Young Americans for Freedom at the 9/11 commemoration ceremony.

by James A. Bacon

I’m beginning to have a smidgeon of sympathy for University of Virginia President Jim Ryan.

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Ryan attended an event sponsored by the Virginia branch of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) to commemorate the lives lost in the terrorist attacks. YAF is an avowedly conservative group, and the keynote speaker, retired Col. Dan Moy, is a UVa lecturer but also chairman of the Republican Party of Charlottesville. Nevertheless, the ceremony, which featured 2,977 miniature flags in the grounds, one for each American live lost — was not overtly partisan. Unless you happen to think that remembering lives lost to terrorism is itself partisan.

Ryan tweeted his appreciation to YAF. “Many thanks to YAF @ UVA for organizing this morning’s moving event commemorating the lives lost on September 11th,” he wrote.

The tweet immediately generated blowback. As the Cavalier Daily student newspaper reports, “students and other social media users” critiqued Ryan’s choice to thank YAF. On Instagram, his post generated 52 comments, most condemning the recognition of YAF. On Twitter, Ryan’s post received mostly negative 27 replies.

“The only charitable interpretation of this is that you didn’t know how terrible YAF is,” Twitter user Gareth Gaston wrote. “If that’s the case you must repudiate your statement immediately. And if not, well then we can only assume you support them.”

“Were you aware that YAF denies systemic racism, ridicules common sense policies that seek to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campuses and regularly refers to your colleagues as ‘crazed leftists?’” tweeted Chinese literature professor Jack Chen. In a follow-up email to the Cavalier Daily, he wrote, “It’s disappointing to see our University president embrace an organization whose primary purpose seems to be to manufacture outrage from outside the University and to direct that outrage toward the most vulnerable members of the University community.”

Ryan did not back down. In a media post provided by University communications, he responded:

September 11, 2001 was a day that forever changed our nation, and I was grateful to have an opportunity to honor and remember those who lost their lives and those who were affected by the tragic events of that day. On a personal level, as someone who lost a friend at the World Trade Center and had other friends and family members directly and forever impacted by the attacks, I appreciated the occasion for quiet reflection with colleagues, students and other members of our community.

The incident shows what Ryan is up against at UVa, where there is a strong culture of intolerance of non-leftist views. In that culture, a rare conservative student organization like YAF is deemed not merely misguided, or wrong, it is beyond the pale of acceptable discourse. It must be canceled. The administration must disown it. (I would add that the negative allegations against YAF are are utterly without substance, but defending YAF is not the purpose of this post.)

Ryan’s decision to attend YAF’s 9/11 commemoration service sends an important signal. While the culture of UVa may be predominantly leftist, the university will accommodate viewpoints not shared by the Twitter Outrage Mob. That’s a positive sign.

At the same time, those who wish UVa to remain a beacon of intellectual diversity open to a wide range of ideas should not make too much of this small symbolic victory. Under the banner of “Inclusive Excellence,” the university under Ryan has unleashed a bureaucratic monster that enforces a rigid “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” orthodoxy, while his deans are busily replacing older, more heterodox professors with a younger generation of leftists. Bacon’s Rebellion will have more to say about that soon.

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41 responses to “A Small Victory for Pluralism at UVa”

  1. Haters gotta hate….. that’s all they know

  2. Rob Austin Avatar

    Good call on the new unnecessary, superfluous, and virtue-signaling hires the Ryan/Magill commissariat has rushed to make. A cursory look at the CVs of these “educators” lays bare the direction Ryan is pushing so hard to follow. And the BoV stands by, either oblivious or in approval at the command of Richmond. Either should be of great concern.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Why I bet Ryan might have actually considered being an YAF before he got “assimilated” by the borg….

  4. Wahoo'74 Avatar

    Totally agree, Jim. I applaud President Ryan for both his attendance at the 9-11 memorial ceremony as well as his follow up response to Professor Chen and the howling mob.

    The Left’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. The Professor and UVA students via social media accuse YAF of “intolerance” and manufacture lies about their core philosophical tenets. Meanwhile, they trample on the sensitivities of anyone who honors the innocent Americans slaughtered by radical Islamic terrorists.

    I am hopeful that the perpetrators who desecrated the memorial are caught then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and University regulations should they have been students. I have little doubt that they were.

  5. DJRippert Avatar

    Now it turns out that Biden’s Department of Defense killed an aid worker and women and children with a drone strike after smugly claiming that the strike took out terrorists transporting explosives.

    Will any of the liberal spittle spraying Twitter mob have anything to say about this? Or do dead aid workers and children pale in comparison to the horrors of the YAF?

  6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “…there is a strong culture of intolerance to non-leftist views.”

    I think it is more of a strong culture of intolerance for radical rightwing ultranationalistic views. Of course to you, that might just count as everything non-left.

    1. Do I conclude correctly from your remark that you consider holding a commemoration service to remember the 9/11 dead represents a “radical rightwing ultranationalistic view”? Or are you just speaking generally?

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Generally, and nationally. But from what I have read they certainly are not a mainstream organization… well maybe they are mainstream for the Republican party these days…

        1. “From what I have read…”

          Among the sources you’ve consulted to draw conclusions about YAF, have you actually read anything (other than snippets taken out of context) by YAF?

          “Maybe they are mainstream for the Republican party these days…”

          So, they represent the views of roughly one-third of the population. They must be borderline fascist. By all means, let’s exclude them.

          1. If you are not a self-loathing, democracy hating, America can do no right, I’m entailed to everything I didn’t build type who would rather scream emotional diatribes rather than have an honest, fact-based debate – you are a right wing fascist.

          2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            If 1/3 of the population aligns with fascists, then yes, we should exclude them.

            I actually tend not to fall to reductio ad Hitlerum arguments but since you brought up fascists, I should remind you that in 1933 Germany’s March 5 Reichstag elections, the Nazi Party won 44% of the vote… so, yeah, there is reason to exclude borderline fascists to be sure…

          3. Matt Adams Avatar

            Hey look it’s a Godwin’s Law reference from the individual who is actually parroting ideals rooted in fascism.

          4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Free Richard Spencer!!… eh, Sport??

          5. Matt Adams Avatar

            I’m unsure who or what that has to do with your invocation of Godwin’s Law or your complete and utter lack understanding of fascism.

            If you could try and stay on topic it’d be great.

            I do realize it is a bridge to far to expect you to provide anything of substance to any dialogue what so ever. Outside of you standard well Conservatives should be stamped out with vengeance you’ve got a sum total of zero thought.

  7. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    One point seems to have been overlooked by everyone in this debate, including Ryan’s critics. Did any other campus oganization, liberal or conservative, have a 9/11 memorial service? It does not seem that Ryan had a choice of which service to go to.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I did notice that…

  8. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I am curious about the Young Americans Foundation. Is that a successor to the Young Americans for Freedom? The latter group had a branch at my Boston-area college in the early 10970s but it had very few members.

    I personally have no qualms about a flag display commemorating those killed in 9/11. But I am suspicious of overdoing flag waving as it tends to morph into demanding support for conservative policies. The message often is that if you don’t agree with the flag waver, you are unpatriotic.

    After 9/11, I was troubled by what I thought was the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein. I actually had some personal experience. When I was in Moscow as a U.S. correspondent in the mid to late 1980s, I had contributed to articles about the Iran- Iraq War that seems to have been forgotten. I interviewed diplomats and Soviet think tank types. At that time, the U.S. was backing Hussein since it despised Iran. Hussein did use poison gas during the war but there was quite a bit of international oversight in the years after it ended.
    Of course, it was later revealed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and the war was unnecessary. But if you said that in front of a flag waver, you were a traitor.

    1. Pleases explain those purple hearts provided to US servicemen/women for being wounded by chemical weapons in 2003-05 in Iraq and Operation Avarice.

    2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      I think it should be noted that nobody knows who did the act being “reported” at YAF.org. It does seem interesting that they had more than one of these “memorials” at multiple campuses and more than one was “vandalized”….

      1. It just shows haters are on multiple campuses… which all already know.

        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          So you know who vandalized these flags? You should turn them in!!

          1. I never said I knew WHO, I simply stated that haters are on all campuses — as per the actions you reported, unless you equate vandalism with ‘the summer of love’ and ‘mostly peaceful protests’.

      2. We know who did some of the vandalism:


        And since you and/or Larry will no doubt question the veracity of that “right wing” source, here is a WaPo article:


        1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
          Eric the half a troll

          Actually was “reported” on the YAF site – multiple times. It’s almost as if they welcomed the news….

          1. Matt Adams Avatar

            “Eric the half a troll WayneS • 17 minutes ago
            Actually was “reported” on the YAF site – multiple times. It’s almost as if they welcomed the news….”

            With that attitude I’d bet you blame your wife when you beat her as well.

  9. disqus_VYLI8FviCA Avatar

    Well, Gareth Gaston or professor Chen could have chosen to honor the lives lost on 9/11, but they didn’t. The YAF did and Ryan chose to thank them for their actions. Chen & Gaston then chose the typical low road of the on-line mob, trying cancel those with whom they disagree but cannot challenge through reason and debate.

    1. Matt Adams Avatar

      Hey look Larybear posted the Culpeper Minute Men Flag. The problem being he wasn’t aware of that fact when he posted it.

      Such a sad example of Virginia education.

      1. That’s actually the Gadsen flag.

        This is the Culpeper Minutemen flag, which is flown at my house under the Virginia Flag.


      2. That is actually the Gadsden flag.

        This is the Culpeper Minutemen flag. We fly this one on flag pole #2, beneath the Virginia flag:


        1. Matt Adams Avatar

          True enough, I just recall them being very similar.

          Still judging by Larry’s asinine comment, he wasn’t aware of it’s history or roots.

    2. Not to mention the Stars and Stripes which we LOVE, Respect, and fight [and may die] for.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        yes – Americans of ALL political views do that, not just some as believed by some.

        Not everyone has to make an ass out of themselves over proclaiming love of their country.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        yes – Americans of ALL political views do that, not just some as believed by some.

        Not everyone has to make an ass out of themselves over proclaiming love of their country.

        1. The fact that you think flying flags of the United States is “making an ass” of oneself says everything anyone ever needs to know about you, sir.

    3. I consider substantively editing your comment without mentioning that you have done so to be dishonorable, especially after others have already responded to the original version of it.

      PS – Have you seen the old Confederate battle-flag “Clinton-Gore” signs? I’ll bet you didn’t have anything to say about those “back in the day”, did you?

      1. or the Sen. Byrd flags flown by Hillary and Bug-out Biden who lionized that well known KKK member.

    4. Only a big-government ass-hat would have a problem with “conservatives” liking that flag.

      EDIT (necessary because LarrytheG ALTERED his original comment to add pictures of two additional flags) – The above comment refers to the Gadsden flag, which was the ONLY flag shown in the original comment.

      1. Matt Adams Avatar

        Oh look he edited his comment to add other superfluous flags that have nothing to do with the first.

        1. I noticed that. I have edited my comment above so that Larry will not later be able to accuse me of supporting the use of the confederate battle flag.

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