As noted in the press release I just posted, I have been appointed executive director of the Jefferson Council, the alumni organization fighting to preserve the Jeffersonian tradition, free speech and intellectual diversity at the University of Virginia. Although I’ll continue to publish Bacon’s Rebellion, I won’t be able to devote as much time to it as I had previously. The good news is that regular contributors such as Jim Sherlock, Dick Hall-Sizemore and Steve Haner aren’t going anywhere, and I’ll still jump in on occasion as time permits.
Still, there will be changes. On the positive side, I’m engaged in conversations to bring on board a new editor (or editors) so we can continue to accept guest op-ed submissions. On the downside, I am giving serious consideration to scrapping the comments feature, which has become a huge time sink. It literally takes an hour or two daily to make sure the comments don’t degenerate into profanity, insult fests, or flame wars. Making the situation worse, in recent days I’ve had to weed out the comment spammers who have figured out how to evade our spam defenses.
If readers are desperate to retain the comments, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, that’s where the axe likely will first fall as we restructure the blog.
CHARLOTTESVILLE—The Jefferson Council, an alumni association devoted to upholding the Jeffersonian legacy at the University of Virginia, has appointed James A. Bacon Jr. as executive director.
“The hiring of a full-time director manager is a milestone in the evolution of the Jefferson Council from an all-volunteer group to a professionally staffed organization,” said President Bert Ellis. “The appointment will position the Council to ramp up its activities in support of the longstanding Jeffersonian traditions of civility, honor, free speech and the open exchange of ideas.”
Bacon is the perfect individual to manage the day-to-day operations of the Council, Ellis said. “As a university alumnus, a life-long Virginia journalist, including 16 years as editor and publisher of Virginia Business magazine and then founder of the Bacon’s Rebellion public policy blog, Bacon has a depth of knowledge of UVa’s challenges that few can match.”
Founded two years ago, the Jefferson Council is one of the first alumni associations in the United States to organize in response to the rise of ideological intolerance and suppression of free speech on college campuses. It is one of five founding members of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance, and a leader in the alumni rebellion sweeping the United States. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Governor Glenn Youngkin unveiled his plan Friday to promote the supply of affordable housing across Virginia. Other than a couple of television stations, the legacy media ignored the story on how the Governor proposes to address one of the most pressing public policy issues in Virginia. Too bad. The plan represents a significant philosophical shift for the Old Dominion.
The plan is notable for its emphasis on increasing the private-sector supply of housing rather than dumping endless sums of money into government housing projects.
The plan, said Youngkin in making the announcement, “is designed to address the restrictions on housing supply, improve and streamline permitting processes, and protect property owner rights. For far too long, Virginians have faced unnecessary burdens that have limited their housing options and opportunities.”
Caren Merrick, secretary of Commerce and Trade, also framed the plan as an economic development initiative. “The availability of workforce housing for their future employees [is] consistently raised by employers,” she said in the announcement. “The plan will align housing development with economic growth as part of our site development process and we will engage with site selectors earlier in the recruitment process on housing to ensure workforce housing needs are addressed.”
The “Make Virginia Home Plan” will focus on the following areas: Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
The Youngkin administration’s proposed revisions to the history and social-science Standards of Learning have run into a buzz saw of opposition from critics who claim the standards aren’t, for lack of a better word, “woke” enough.
As The Washington Post summarizes the changes: “The new proposed version generally places less less emphasis on the perspectives of marginalized peoples, removes suggested discussions of racism and its lingering effects, and promotes the workings of the free market, with limited government intervention.” Left-leaning educators and lawmakers argue that the standards “offer a simpler version of history that pays less attention to the perspectives and lives of people of color, especially Indigenous and non-European communities.”
After a four-hour public comment session, the State Board of Education (SBOE) has voted to delay consideration of the standards.
I urge Youngkin-appointed board members to stand firm. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
So, you think you’re all grown up just because you’ve graduated from the children’s table?
Truth is, you’re not really an adult until you’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner. In your own house or apartment, for at least 10 people, with everything made from scratch. Except the rolls, that is. You may buy them.
What’s that? You thought turning 21 was your passport to adulthood? Getting married? Buying a house?
Sorry, until you prepare your first Thanksgiving meal, you’re still a culinary kid.
Nothing – not even childbirth – prepares you for the rising panic that comes with the knowledge that you’ve invited a dozen people, who may not even like one another, for a feast consisting of a perfectly roasted turkey and at least a dozen sides. And pies. Can’t forget the pies.
Expectations are high, and so are the risks.
Burn the green-bean casserole, accidentally slosh Scotch into the mashed potatoes, or undercook the bird, and you’re the butt of family jokes for years.
Thanksgiving: the deceptively difficult holiday. Continue reading
Charlottesville’s monument to Stonewall Jackson (1921) was removed from a park next to the Albemarle County Courthouse in July 2021. It was subsequently sold to a Los Angeles “visual art space” and is in danger of destruction. (Nickmorgan2, Wikimedia Commons, rendered in grayscale)
In Charlottesville and Richmond, the fate of historical statuary hangs in the balance.
by Catesby Leigh
Charlottesville’s public spaces suffered major degradation after George Floyd’s killing, thanks to the removal of five noteworthy statuary works erected between 1909 and 1924: a Confederate sentinel known as Johnny Reb perched on an elaborate pedestal flanked by two cannons in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse; equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson; a Lewis and Clark monument that included the crouching figure of their Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea; and a monument to Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark, famous for his exploits in what became the Northwest Territory. This tribute to the “Conqueror of the Northwest” included seven figures in a scenographic tableau, with Clark alone on horseback as his party encountered a group of Indians.
Except for the Johnny Reb, these monuments were the work of noted artists and individually designated on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Virginia Landmarks Register. All, again excepting the Johnny Reb, were donated by an exceptionally generous philanthropist, investment banker Paul Goodloe McIntire (1860–1952).
And all ran afoul of racial-grievance activists, whether black or Native American, and their indispensable coterie of woke white allies convinced that the monuments’ removal will somehow improve the lives of historically marginalized minorities. It won’t, and the grievance community will just move on to the next hot-button issue. Only the handsomely decorated pink-granite pedestal of the Lewis and Clark, rising from a lushly planted traffic island, remains. Evidently the pedestal is considered politically acceptable in the statuary’s absence, especially that of the unacceptably subordinate figure of Sacagawea. Continue reading
Attorney General Jason Miyares has agreed to conduct an external review of the events that led up to the shooting deaths of three University of Virginia students Sunday. He will enlist special counsel to assist his office in the completion of its work, said spokesperson Victoria LaCivita.
The review will produce a report to be shared with students, families, the larger UVa community, and government officials. “The Attorney General will work with deliberate speed while ensuring that all necessary resources remain devoted to the criminal investigation being conducted by state and local authorities,” she said.
Miyares’ statement comes after a request for the review issued by the UVa Board of Visitors. In a letter to the Attorney General, Rector Witt Clement wrote the following: Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Three days ago the National Lawyers Guild at UVa condemned the invitation of Erin Hawley, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, to a Federalist Society event previewing a U.S. Supreme Court case touching upon religious freedom. The “progressive” law student group cited the Southern Poverty Law Center designation of the Alliance as an anti-LGBTQ+ “hate” group.
The Federalist Society, a group of mostly conservative and libertarian law school students, invited Hawley to a discussion of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a pending Supreme Court case. The Alliance Defending Freedom represents the plaintiff in that case, Lorie Smith, who believes on religious grounds that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and refuses to design websites for LGBTQ+ couples.
The National Lawyers Guild (NGL) at UVa “condemns the views of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as well as the Federalist Society’s decision to give them a platform by inviting them to speak at an event at the law school,” stated the NGL Facebook page in a post that garnered 88 “likes.”
(In the aftermath of the triple-murder shooting at the University of Virginia Sunday night, the Federalist Society canceled the Tuesday meeting “out of respect for the tragedy,” said Julia Jeanette Mroz, president of the UVa chapter. “As a student group, we felt it appropriate to follow the University’s lead in designating today a Day of Observance. No other circumstances bore on this decision.”
(The Society is working with Hawley to reschedule the event this spring.) Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
Yes, I heard. The whole country heard.
Donald Trump announced last night that he was running for president in 2024. The worst-kept secret in American history.
If I were a Democrat I’d be delighted.
While Trump always sucks the air out of the room and dominates the news cycle, other events were more important.
For instance, Poland reported yesterday that a Russian-made missile fell inside its border killing two, bringing the world ever closer to all-out war. Almost immediately #Article5 began trending on Twitter.
Russia denied that it fired one of its missiles into NATO territory, but the incident is a reminder that Europe is a very volatile place.
Oh, and apparently Joe Biden is feeling under the weather. Lucky us to have a feeble 80-year-old leading the Free World.
In an overlooked moment, the U.S. Senate voted 62-36 yesterday to terminate Biden’s COVID National Emergency declaration. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
There is a disturbing sidebar to the University of Virginia mass shooting story. Only a few hours before the murders took place at around 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, a rapper and minor social media celebrity, Bryan Silva, posted a disturbing message on his Facebook account:
I want u v a to know what pain and suffering is. They put me through that everyday of my life here and laughed in my face. I want them to feel how I feel. I will sell everything I have to make that pain and suffering happen.
According to one media account, a Facebook reader alerted the Charlottesville police to his comment. According to another, he threatened a neighbor with a gun; the neighbor called the police. Whatever the case, police opened an investigation, obtained a search warrant of Silva’s downtown residence, and arrested him for illegal possession of firearms and a controlled substance.
Despite the coincidence in timing, police quickly concluded that Silva’s vague threats were unrelated to the tragic shooting of three UVa football players, allegedly by UVa student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. Media attention has focused on uncovering Jones’ background and possible motive. Understandably, Silva, whose crimes were trivial by comparison, has faded into the background. But I find Silva intriguing… and scary. Not because he represents a clear and present danger to society — although he might — but because he epitomizes so much that is tragically wrong with so many young men in our society today. Continue reading
Thousands from the UVa community gathered on the Lawn last night to hold a vigil for Davin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry.
Many questions arise from the mass shooting at the University of Virginia two days ago. Why’d he do it? Were there warning signs? Could the murders have been prevented?
There will be a time and a place to answer those questions.
But not now.
Now is the time to mourn the loss of three fine young men. Now is the time for the UVa community to come together, honor the memories of the victims, support the bereaving families, and pray for the recovery of the two students who were hospitalized from the shooting.
by Kerry Dougherty
The fear, the dread that crept across the University of Virginia grounds Sunday night as reports of a fatal shooting spread and students were cautioned to shelter in place.
The gunman was on the loose. He was armed and dangerous.
The manhunt for Christopher Darnell Jones Jr, lasted 12 terrifying hours. He was arrested in Henrico County and charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
More charges are coming. Two other young men — also football players — were wounded in the shooting. One of those students was in critical condition.
While thousands of UVA parents were relieved when their kids finally called home to say they were safe, three sets of parents received unspeakable news. Their sons, football players, had been shot to death.
Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were gone.
The father of one of the deceased expressed the depth of his grief to The Washington Post:
“I wish it was me instead of him,” said Thaddeus Lavel Davis, his father. Lavel was his firstborn child. Continue reading
1607 and All That: the Susan Constant
by James A. Bacon
The Youngkin administration has laid out the thinking behind its revisions to the History and Social Studies Standards of Learning tests. The broad thrust is to educate students on how Virginia and the United States came to have the institutions they have. Underlying assumptions are that (1) representative government, property rights, free markets, human rights, and the rule of law are good things; and (2) while there is much to regret about American history, there is much to celebrate and uphold. Teachers will be expected to teach the good with the bad, not to “bury” unpleasant aspects of our history. They also will be expected to conduct “open and balanced discussion” on controversial topics, not to indoctrinate.
As The Washington Post reports today, not everyone is happy with this approach.
Perhaps the most vehement critic of Team Youngkin’s philosophy is James J. Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association — a union representing the more than 40,000 education workers across Virginia who will be tasked with teaching to the new standards.
“The standards are full of overt political bias, outdated language to describe enslaved people and American Indians, highly subjective framing of American moralism and conservative ideals, coded racist overtures throughout, requirements for teachers to present histories of discrimination and racism as ‘balanced’ ‘without personal or political bias,’ and restrictions on allowance of ‘teacher-created curriculum,’ which is allowed in all other subject areas,” he said. Continue reading