Category Archives: Culture wars

The Lies in “Hillbilly Elegy”

By Peter Galuszka

A 2016 memoir by J.D. Vance, a former Ohio resident, drew praise from conservatives for its laud of self-reliance and disciple and criticism from others for its long string of debunked clichés about people from the Central Appalachians.

The book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” was held up as being a great explainer as to why so many in the White lower classes voted for Trump.

Vance exalts the strength of self-discipline, family values and hard work. He complains that when he worked as a store clerk he resented it when people on welfare had cell phones but Vance couldn’t afford one. He ended up going to Yale Law School.

Vance also spends a lot of time complaining about his dysfunctional family including a nasty grandmother, a mother constantly stoned on alcohol and opioids and lots of divorce – in other words the “social rot” of the hillbilly lifestyle he so disdains.

His tie to Appalachia is a bit thin. He grew up in a suburb of Cincinnati but spent summers in Jackson in the mountains of East Kentucky.

Now director and child actor Ron Howard has made a feel-good movie from the book that stars Glenn Close and Amy Adams. It is getting lousy reviews. Continue reading

Northam’s Plan for Public School “Equity”

by James A. Bacon

The Northam administration is pushing through the greatest transformation in Virginia’s K-12 public education system since the end of Massive Resistance. Unless you read Bacon’s Rebellion, you likely know nothing about this. The establishment media is not covering the biggest K-12 story of our generation.

Northam’s goal is nothing less than achieving “educational equity,” or equal outcomes for all races and ethnicities. Not equal opportunity for all, not equal resources for all, but equal outcomes.

According to a newly published document, “Navigating EdEquityVA: Virginia’s Road Map to Equity,” education equity is achieved when “we eliminate the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status or languages spoken at home.”

The key assumption underlying this push is that the United States — and Virginia is no exception — is a systemically racist country. Thus, “anti-racism” is a core component of the overhaul of the state’s public schools. However, anti-racism is not defined in a way that most Virginians would understand it: as opposing the expression of bias against minorities. The Northam administration explicitly uses a definition straight out of cultural Marxist theory prevalent in academia. Anti-racism, proclaims the document: Continue reading

Unemployment of Blacks Exceed that of Whites at Every Level of Educational Attainment

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Here is another salvo in the culture wars that have been reflected on this blog. An article in a newspaper today begins with this sentence: “From advanced-degree holders to high-school dropouts, Black workers have substantially higher unemployment rates at every level of educational attainment than white workers….”

And which woke newspaper with a critical race theory bias ran this article? Why, the Wall Street Journal, of course!

The article goes on to say that the disparity between Blacks and whites increased this year during the pandemic. (Black unemployment levels exceed those of Hispanics at every educational level, as well.) Finally, not only are Blacks more likely than whites to be unemployed, they are more likely to be underemployed. “Black employees with full-time jobs also earn less than similarly educated white workers.”  The article quotes one economist as saying, “Frequently, Black workers need to send additional signals about their qualifications to get the same job. That’s why you’ll see a Black person with a master’s degree in a job that only requires a bachelor’s.”

The article suggests several reasons for these discrepancies:

  • “Black Americans more frequently attend lower-quality elementary and high schools in racially segregated neighborhoods, which may leave them less prepared to succeed in college or at their first jobs.”
  • “Black workers also can lack access to better, more stable jobs because they may not have the network of contacts to know about them.”
  • “They may face challenges like lack of access to transportation or child care.”
  • Finally, the economists interviewed in the article suggest that old fashioned discrimination plays a part. “There are negative penalties in the labor market associated with gender and race that can’t be explained by anything else,” they contend.

Herring’s Loudoun County Determination Part II – State-Sponsored Extortion

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

Part one of two essays on this subject described a new Virginia law, a new Division in the Attorney Generals office, its function as a kangaroo court and its astonishing and sweeping  “determination” against Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). The law requires LCPS to block Asian American kids from the competitively accessed Loudoun Academies in favor of protected classes.

That is not even the heart of the scandal.

That same determination published the NAACP’s demands to settle the case. I will quote the NAACP demands directly here because a summary cannot do it justice. Remember, these “requests” were published by the Attorney General. Also remember that if the NAACP is unhappy, it can go to court with the AG’s determination in hand.

Please note the demand for a high quality charter school for black students that can eliminate the achievement gap. Perhaps Success Academy can help.

Continue reading

Herring’s Academies of Loudoun Ruling – Part I – Only Cure for Disparate Impact is Fewer Asians

Why is this man smiling?

by James C. Sherlock

I just finished reading the 61-page “Final Determination of the Office of Attorney General Division of Human Rights in DHR Case No.: 19-2652, NAACP Loudoun Branch v. Loudoun County Public Schools.”

The first thing I discovered is that the Democrats in the last session created a kangaroo court within the Attorney General’s Office for civil rights cases. It is the new Division of Human Rights.

The second thing I noted was the state-sponsored extortion that was part of the “determination.” This essay will be about the new law that enabled this determination, the finding and its implications.

Part II will expose the state-sanctioned extortion that the “determination” endorses.

This case, while focused on public schools in Loudoun County, is a shot across the bow of every business in Virginia. Not only small businesses are in the crosshairs. Consider Boeing and Amazon, corporate nomads both. Good thing they established headquarters in Northern Virginia before this law. But then again, they are flexible with regards to the states in which they do business. Those two Goliaths used to call the states of Washington and then Illinois (Boeing) and Washington (Amazon) home. Continue reading

The Pick-Your-Expert Game, Virginia Schools Division

by James C. Sherlock

Danica Roem

A story  by Dana Goldstein published in the New York Times on June 30, 2020, illustrates America’s new favorite parlor game: Pick your expert.  

This essay is hereby entered in the Virginia schools division of the bigger game. Ms. Goldstein wrote:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has a reputation as conservative and cautious, which is what you would expect from an organization devoted to protecting children’s health. But this week, the academy made a splash with advice about reopening schools that appears to be somewhat at odds with what administrators are hearing from some federal and state health officials.”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, have advised that remote learning is the safest option. But the (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines strongly recommend that students be “physically present in school” as much as possible, and emphasize that there are major health, social and educational risks to keeping children at home.”

Later, there was a government-directed shotgun wedding of the two opinions, but the core AAP recommendation remains. So like every other argument, confirmation bias proved determinative in how various interests chose their “experts.” Continue reading

Anatomy of a Racial Incident at UVa

Jeffrey Leopold

Jeffrey Leopold, a University of Virginia assistant professor, was assigned this fall to teach “COMM 1800 — Foundations of Commerce,” a prerequisite for students entering the McIntire School of Commerce. On October 22 he lectured the class on the topic of globalism. His purpose was to explain the necessity of adopting a “global mindset,” which among other things, required appreciating cultural differences.

Leopold kicked off his lecture, as he commonly did, by telling a joke. For this particular class, he told one that played on stereotypes of peoples around the world. It went like this:

The United Nations conducted a survey worldwide. The only question asked was: “Would you please give us your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?” The survey was a complete failure…

In Africa they did not know what “food” meant.

In China they did not know what “honest” meant.

In Europe they did not know what “shortage” meant.

Continue reading

Stewart Gets Last-Minute Gift From Trump

Corey Stewart

Peter Galuszka

Corey A. Stewart, a conservative firebrand from Prince William County, is getting a last-minute going-away present from President Donald Trump.

As Trump’s administration comes to an end, Trump has created a position on trade at the U.S. Commerce Department that is just for him. In 2016, Stewart headed Trump’s Virginia election campaign before being fired. Stewart said that he was Trump before Trump was Trump.

Stewart is an international trade lawyer and is expected to strong arm Trump’s tough and confusing trade policies.

A special target is China, which Trump has castigated, with some justification, for cheating on business deals, fiddling with its currency exchange rates, growing its armed forces and trampling on human rights.

Stewart will toughen enforcement of Trump’s hostile trade relations, according to news reports.

Some trade experts wonder what the Stewart story is all about. According to Reuters, William Reinsch, a former Commerce undersecretary, said he viewed hiring as “peculiar” since he is filling a position that does not exist. Continue reading

How to Promote Ideological Diversity at Washington & Lee

by Neely Young

It is well known by now that the professoriate at many colleges and universities, particularly the more elite ones, is dominated by politically liberal faculty. American higher education needs ideological diversity in classrooms, particularly in those that touch on political and social issues. Disciplines like sociology, history, political science, literature, and philosophy have been increasingly shaped by progressive, intellectual currents over the last several years. Conservative students often avoid such courses because they feel they will be called out on their views. On many campuses, there are no conservative professors in the social sciences and humanities.

Indeed, many classrooms in these subjects are “homogenous islands.” In a recent study published by the National Association of Scholars, “Homogenous: The Political Affiliation of Elite, Liberal Arts Faculty,” Michal Langbert states that such homogeneity of viewpoint may well bias research and teaching, constrict intellectual discussion within the faculty, and deprive students of diverse viewpoints.

In his new book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses, Michael Roth, the President of Wesleyan College, has made an appeal for heterodoxy of campus viewpoints, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. As he says, “We need an affirmative action program for ideas emerging from conservative and religious traditions.”

The situation at Washington and Lee does not seem to be as dire as at some schools, but it is undoubtedly true that the faculty is more politically liberal than at any point in the past, that many conservative professors and students feel like outsiders and are not as willing to express their points of view, and that many of the liberal faculty members have played an outsized role in the controversies and crises of the last few years. The vote of 79% of the faculty to change the name of the university is a strong indication of the left-leaning propensities of that group. Continue reading

Bettina Love at Virginia Tech – a Different Context

by James C. Sherlock

A bad penny keeps on turning up.

This appearance is however critically different in context from Ms. Love’s appearance at the University of Virginia School of Education.

The Tech online get together is for faculty, and I have no problem with that. It represents legitimate academic inquiry.

Presumably the audience will question Love on her recommendations for resegregation of the schools and a radically unique curriculum for black students. That should engender a lively debate that I will pay to see.

The UVa School of Education appearance was as a keynote speaker for K-12 teachers, which represents an endorsement.

VMI Wins with Wins as Interim Superintendent

Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia Military Institute has appointed retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, an African-American, as interim superintendent. He will serve while the Board of Visitors searches for a permanent replacement for retired Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, who resigned after Governor Ralph Northam announced an investigation into charges of “relentless racism” at the military academy.

You can read a straight news story about the appointment in the Richmond Times-Dispatch here.

You can read a jaundiced joke of a “news” story about the appointment by so-called “reporter” Ian Shapira in the Washington Post here.

First a few facts about Wins…. He graduated from VMI in 1985, sixteen years after the military academic was desegregated, and spent 34 years in the Army. Son of an Army veteran and police officer, Wins, now 57, attended VMI on a basketball scholarship and starred as a shooting guard. He remains on the team’s top all-five scorer’s list. After earning a degree in economics, he was required to serve three years in the Army. As the RTD recounts, although he had never intended to make the Army career, the Army kept presenting him with opportunities, and he kept on taking them. His final post before retirement was commander of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, the Army’s largest technology developer. Continue reading

Daniel Invokes Honor Code to Clean up UVa’s Lawn

by James A. Bacon

Aubrey M. Daniel III, author of two widely read letters critical of the University of Virginia administration for its handling of the controversial “F— UVA” sign posted on the door of a Lawn resident, has issued a third, which he says will be his last.

Following the advice of university counsel, Rector James B. Murray Jr. and President Jim Ryan said that any move to take down the offending sign would violate the Lawn resident’s right to free speech. Daniel responds in this letter that all signage on Lawn room should come down because all of it violates the contractual terms signed as a condition of residency.

Addressing the letter to Murray, Daniel argues that Ryan and the board have failed to preserve the Lawn in accordance with its status as a UNESCO world heritage site, that Ryan has failed his fiduciary duties to the university, and, most controversially, that the authors of the “F— UVA” sign and other detritus applied to Lawn doors are guilty of honor code violations for their failure to live up to contractual obligations, incurred when they became Lawn residents, to “enhance the general reputation and good name of the University in the eyes of the public.”

Here follows the letter: Continue reading

A Challenge to the University of Virginia Ed School on the Teaching of K-12 Black Children

by James C. Sherlock

I provided an extensive review in this space of the latest book by Dr. Bettina Love, an assistant professor in the education school of the University of Georgia. She advocates separate but equally funded schools for black children and a radically revised curriculum unique to black children.

Dr. Bettina Love

Readers can see in that review the details of her analysis of the problems in the education of black children in American schools and her incomplete but radical prescriptions for fixing the problems she assesses.

The University of Virginia, my alma mater, brought this woman to my attention by paying Ms. Love to keynote a symposium, not for University faculty or students, but sponsored by the Education School for working K-12 teachers in Virginia.

That, when combined with similar content in many courses at the University, constitutes an endorsement of Ms. Love’s views, not a hearing of them by the University.

I believe that Black parents in Virginia will reject Ms. Love’s views root and branch by very large margins.  Which in turn will raise the question of why is the University doing what it is doing.

So I offer a challenge to the University.

Fund a reputable polling organization:

  1. to accurately portray Ms. Love’s views as she states them; and
  2. survey Black parents of children in public schools in Virginia to find out if they agree or disagree.

Then publish the results, even if some at the University may think they do not know what is best for their children.

Study Says Virginia School Segregation Getting Worse, Contradicting Its Own Data

by James A. Bacon

“School segregation by race and poverty is deepening in Virginia,” asserts the opening line of a just-published study, “School Segregation by Boundary Line in Virginia.”

The study proceeds to show no such thing.

While it is beyond dispute that de facto segregation persists, especially in inner-city school districts, the study provides no data to support the conclusion that the separation of races is intensifying. Indeed, the authors concede that black student enrollment has declined in urban school districts and increased in suburban districts — thus moving from highly segregated to less-segregated schools.

The main trend in school enrollment over the past decade has been a decline in the percentages of whites and blacks and an increase in the percentages of Hispanics and Asians.  Continue reading

Capitalism Transcends the Best Efforts of the Universities to Kill It

Adam Smith, the Muir portrait at the Scottish National Gallery

by James C. Sherlock

We have chronicled here the broad and deep attacks on capitalism by the socialist and Marxist clerisy led by academics and their students in the media. The attacks are bitter and utterly relentless.

There is hopeful news.

PBS outlets all over the country yesterday published an article titled “The Unexpected Boom in Startups.”  After the election it apparently is safe to publish such news.

Separately, the Census Department found that Virginia, year-over-year, in a week-to-week comparison with 2019, saw increases in 2020 in business applications of 44.5% (week 44), 38.7% (week 43), 32.7% (week 42) and 36.3% (week 41). Week 44 of 2020 was Monday, October 26 – Sunday, November 1.

Entirely unsurprisingly, the same Census Department report, when interrogated for regional results, showed the bulk of these gains were in the politically reddest regions of the country. New York, Washington and Oregon were in the 20% range. California 33%.

States of the old South like South Carolina (68.2% ), Georgia (62.4% ) Mississippi (89.6% ) and Louisiana (73.3% ) as well as Pennsylvania (61.2% ), Ohio(60.9% ) and Montana (83.3% ) have led the charge.

Newly majoritarian Democrats haven’t had time to ruin the business climate in Virginia, but they’re working on it. Continue reading