A Tale of Two Professors

David Walsh

by James A. Bacon

On the one hand, we have David Astin Walsh, a left-wing University of Virginia PhD student specializing in far-right politics, who taught a class at George Mason University last year.

On the other hand, we have Jeffrey Leopold, an assistant professor who teaches the Foundation of Commerce course at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School.

Jeffrey Leopold

Let’s compare and contrast injudicious words uttered by each man, the ensuing institutional responses, and their responses to the responses.

Walsh, whose Twitter tag is “David ‘That’s *Dr.* Commie F*ck’ Walsh,” posted the following statement on Twitter last week: “Here’s the thing: if the worst-case scenario happens next week, American’s don’t need to just ‘protest.’ They need to actively try to topple the government.” In a follow-up tweet, he said, “Also worth noting that the military has already made it clear that in such a scenario, they’re not going to back Trump.”

Calling for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in a “worst-case scenario” involving the re-election of the president requires no elaboration.

In his UVa class on Oct. 22, Leopold made the following statement: “Africans didn’t know what food meant.”

Apparently, he made the statement in gest, although I struggle to find anything remotely humorous about it. Indeed, the statement was incomprehensible. If the quip meant to appeal to some stereotype about Africans, what was the stereotype? That Africans don’t have food? That they’re lousy cooks? Whatever the intention, the remark was spectacularly ill-advised at an institution in which black students are hyper-vigilant about racially insensitive comments.

If you’re with me so far, here’s where we stand:

  • Walsh advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in the event of a Trump victory at the polls.
  • Leopold made a racially insensitive remark in class.

Word of Walsh’s tweet got back to George Mason, and university officials felt moved to distance themselves from his rhetoric.

It was reassuring indeed to hear that GMU “does not agree” with Walsh’s violent overthrow of the government.

The reaction to Leopold’s comment was more assertive. The Organization of African Students denounced the statement. “There have been multiple instances where faculty members and staff have made ignorant, and inherently racist statements, where the N-word was utilized and minority groups ridiculed and that is unacceptable.” The organization also called upon the University to “increase the standards of the yearly diversity and bias-awareness training.”

That was Oct. 29. The very next day, WVIR reported that Leopold had issued the following statement in apology:

On Thursday, October 22 in my class, I made statements that were both insensitive and offensive. I sincerely regret doing so and I am deeply sorry for my actions and my words.

I care deeply about all of my students and the UVA community at-large and I will never forget this judgment error. Over the past several days, and with counsel from McIntire leadership, I have reflected on my actions. I know that what I said was wrong and I appreciate even more so the great importance and impact of what I say in and out of the classroom. It is clear that I should have been more thoughtful with my comments and I apologize.

I tremendously value the opportunity to spend my time, energy and passion helping the brilliant students at this University fulfill their potential. I have a deep interest and willingness to continue to learn and become a better professor and educator. I hope, in turn, that those whom I have hurt can help me continue to broaden my perspective so that I can do a better job, with greater sensitivity and awareness going forward.

by contrast, Walsh is not apologizing for anything. As word spread about his comments in the conservative Twitterverse, he tweeted the following:

and…

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12 responses to “A Tale of Two Professors

  1. I guess UVA is not a hotbed of Sam Kinison fans….. pity….he’s hilarious

  2. Dredging Ann coulter? Why bother?

    • I like Ann. She wobbles her head to keep that marble of a thought rattling in the tin can as she speaks. She fact-checks at a rate that makes Trump appear knowledgeable.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Just in case you ever wondered. William Bruce Mumford is the only American ever executed specifically on the charge of treason against the United States. He hauled down the US flag in front of the Customs House in New Orleans. The city had just fallen into the hands of Admiral Farragut and Mumford was not quite ready to see the stars and stripes again. General Ben Butler charged him with treason and since it was martial law at the moment Mumford received a military tribunal. After the war Butler, a powerful abolitionist senator, helped Mumford’s wife get a government job in DC.

    • Oh well.
      The Confederate Articles of War (1861) specified that “all officers and soldiers who have received pay, or have been duly enlisted in the services of the Confederate States, and shall be convicted of having deserted the same, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as, by sentence of a court-martial, shall be inflicted.”

      The first executions for desertion in the Army of Northern Virginia took place at Mount Pisgah Church on August 19, 1862, when three men of Brigadier General William B. Taliaferro’s division and two from Brigadier General Jubal A. Early’s division—all from the Shenandoah Valley or from the counties of what is now West Virginia—were shot by firing squad under orders from Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. As Colonel Samuel Bassett French, Jackson’s aide, wrote, “the preservation of the army itself was dependent on the maintenance of discipline, and discipline could not be had if desertions were longer to go unpunished.”

      Although never as draconian as in the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Braxton Bragg—where, according to memoirist Sam Watkins, deserters “were summarily shot without any trial”—punishments in the Army of Northern Virginia became more severe, and by the autumn of 1863 courts-martial for capital offenses had become a matter of routine. Several deserters were executed in the spring of 1864, and firing squads remained active until the evacuations of Richmond and Petersburg.

      https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/military_executions_during_the_civil_war

      There was a NC Confederate general/colonel (why should I look up what you surely know offhandedly?) who summarily hanged some Yankee POWs as deserters if they were found to have come from any Southern State, whether they had ever been in uniform for the South, or not. Watch your brown eyes, er, uh, drawl. He met a courts martial and received a just hanging himself.

  4. Both are clods. However, Leopold seems contrite and possibly redeemable. For his edification … I am a dedicated amateur chef. I often cook African food because it is very tasty and usually quite healthy. Here’s one of my favorite dishes:

    https://www.skinnytaste.com/kenyan-braised-collard-greens-and/

    I think it’s strange there are so few restaurants dedicated to Sub Saharan African food. There are quite a few dedicated to Northern African food but that tends to be more Middle Eastern in nature.

    Once the dust settles from COVID-19 maybe I’ll open a Sub Saharan African restaurant. That is, if dipshits (his own word) like David Walsh don’t think it would be cultural appropriation.

  5. David Astin (Astin, really? Ugh…) Walsh has an incredibly punchable face and, apparently, name.

    But look, if a president who was installed via an anti-democratic mechanism who has never enjoyed a popular plurality of support, to say nothing of majority, loses both the popular vote and the electoral college and refuses to cede power, what recourse other than insurrection is there? How many divisions do the courts control, after all?

    Because THAT is the worst case scenario. Not a simple reelection, but an outright loss where the loser refuses to exit the office.

  6. JB – Ah yes, an education from THE University of VA.

    Quality. Go Yahoos.

  7. Topple does not imply violent overthrow. A strike has been known to topple governments, see Poland, England, Italy, India for examples.

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