Category Archives: Culture wars

Redskins Likely to Change Team Name

A new look for DC football?

by DJ Rippert

And so it goes. The Washington Redskins issued a somewhat surprising announcement today stating that the organization will “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.” While the statement does not definitively say that the team name will be changed, it is almost guaranteed to change given today’s political climate. Even Dan Snyder wouldn’t undertake a review of the controversial name only to conclude that “everything is fine with the name.” Would he? Continue reading

Who Rules America in 2020?

by James A. Bacon

One of my college textbooks back in the early 1970s was a book by G. William Domhoff, “Who Rules America?” He argued, as best I can remember, that a corporate elite wielded power through its influence over government as well its control of cultural institutions such as think tanks, foundations, academic departments. Apparently, Domhoff has updated his book several times over the years, but his fundamental thesis hasn’t changed.

It’s time for a fresh look at the question of who rules America. I would argue that America’s elites have fractured. A post-WWII corporate elite, based on wealth, still exists, but it has schismed. Some plutocrats remain relatively conservative on cultural issues, while others have embraced leftist nostrums. Moreover, there has arisen a cultural elite that is highly resentful of the power and privileges of the corporate elite. Members of the cultural elite aren’t mega-wealthy, but they are privileged and well-to-do, and they exercise enormous authority. They have captured the mainstream media, the universities, the foundations, the nonprofits, the museums and other cultural institutions, and through them, they frame the dominant narratives of our time.

The old corporate elite was motivated primarily by a desire to perpetuate its wealth. The new cultural elite is envious and would like to reappropriate much of that wealth for redistribution as it sees fit. Even more alarmingly, the cultural elite has a totalitarian instinct. Convinced of its righteousness, it is bent upon imposing its values and priorities upon the rest of the population. Continue reading

I Remember Stonewall

The day they drove old Dixie down. Removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue on Richmond’s Monument Ave. Photo credit: Associated Press

By Peter Galuszka

Confederate statues are finally coming down in Richmond and other Virginia cities, including one of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. There have been outcries by sentimental mythologists and apologists on this blog and elsewhere about how “mob rule” is forcing issues and so on.

Since some bloggers here have come up with their version of positive biographies about some of the figures, notably Matthew Fontaine Maury, an early oceanographer and Confederate Naval officer, I thought I’d weigh in on my own personal experience with Stonewall.

Jackson was born on Jan. 24 1824 in what was then Clarksburg, Va., and grew up about 20 miles south in Jackson’s Mill near Weston Va. Then in 1863, irritated about Richmond’s racial policies and economic favoritism, residents seceded and created West Virginia which supported the North in the Civil War.

By coincidence, I moved to the Clarksburg area in 1962 from the D.C. area when I was nine years old and resided there until 1969.

It wasn’t exactly the “Southern” experience others seem to recall. For one thing, the homeland of “Stonewall” did not have many slaves or African-Americans. The area of Harrison County, however, held fairly mixed views about slavery and allegiance. While Jackson, a West Point graduate went with the South, his sister was loyal to the North. (For more details about Jackson’s life, read James L. Robertson Jr.’s excellent 1997 biography.) Continue reading

Unbiased Research on Race Becoming Taboo

As an aside to Hans’ column…. Much of what we believe to be true about race relations and racism in the United States comes from the social sciences. The hard sciences and the social sciences alike suffer from a “replication crisis,” that is, independent researchers cannot replicate the findings of the original experiment. The ability to replicate findings is crucial for moving past headline-grabbing announcements to something resembling a scientific consensus. The problem is most acute in the “soft” sciences such as psychology. The more ideologically fraught a subject matter is — and what is more fraught than the issue of race in America? — the more suspect it should be. The replicability crisis is compounded by the ubiquitous media practice of cherry picking studies that fit preferred narratives and failing to warn readers of any caveats or reservations. Be wary of any media coverage of a study that neatly fits preconceived political narratives. — JAB

by Hans Bader

It is now dangerous for an academic to conduct or even discuss research that shows an absence of racial bias in the criminal justice system. An Asian-American college official was forced to resign his position after discussing such research, as The College Fix reports in the article, “Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks.” As it notes:

Michigan State University leaders have successfully pressured Stephen Hsu to resign from his position as vice president of research…The main thrust to oust Hsu came because the professor touted Michigan State research that found police are not more likely to shoot African-Americans….

“I interviewed MSU Psychology professor Joe Cesario, who studies police shootings,” he wrote in an email to The College Fix… Cesario is the Michigan State psychology professor who co-authored the study published July 2019 that debunked the notion that police are more likely to shoot African-Americans. Hsu wrote on his blog that the paper concluded “there is no widespread racial bias in police shooting.”

Cesario’s research had been cited in a widely shared Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism” that was published June 3 amid racially charged protests against the death of George Floyd in police custody.

As Professor Hsu notes, “Cesario’s work (along with similar work by others, such as Roland Fryer at Harvard) is essential to understanding deadly force and how to improve policing.” Continue reading

Evictions as the New “Monuments to White Supremacy”

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

The City of Richmond took down the statue of Stonewall Jackson yesterday in the hope, in Mayor Levar Stoney’s words, of protecting the public and starting the healing process. But across town enraged demonstrators were one step ahead of the Mayor, having switched the focus of their wrath from Civil War memorials to housing evictions.

Marchers downtown chanted, “Fight, fight, fight! Housing is a right!” and “Eviction is violence.” Apparently, the demonstrators got disorderly, although the Richmond Times-Dispatch account is unclear. Deputies deployed pepper spray, a window was smashed, and two people were arrested. One is left to deduce from the photograph accompanying the story (shown above) that violence occurred, or was threatened, at the John Marshall Courts Building.

What is clear is that the mob has moved on. It has found a new cause.

“I find this incredibly insidious,” said organizer Naomi Isaac. “Especially when our elected officials are congratulating themselves for taking down monuments to white supremacy on Monument Avenue while replicating those same monuments to white supremacy at the courthouse against people who are fighting against [evictions] and fighting against the way that’s affected Black people for generations.” Continue reading

Ocean Pathfinder Maury Swamped by Culture Wave

Lt. M.F. Maury in 1853

Today we get the attempted cancellation of Matthew Fontaine Maury, one of the world’s greatest oceanographers. Having had his memory preserved on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, and having served the Confederate States Navy, any scientific contributions he made before or after the war are hereby nullified, despite worldwide acclaim. The crane is at his statue as I write.

I was going to write my own summary, but the irony of finding a glowing account of his life on the PBS website was too rich.  For far more detail, there is this on Wikipedia, until they come for that, too.  The Wikipedia article does get into his views on slavery, and his idea to settle parts of the Amazon with American slaveholders and their property. His postwar views, if amended, are not mentioned.

UPDATE: A writer at Virginia Mercury adds this report Maury remained unreconstructed and unrepentant in the immediate aftermath. 

Here’s the PBS report on this man who clearly must be erased from memory:

A Naval officer and pioneer in the emerging field of oceanography, Matthew Fontaine Maury was nicknamed the “Pathfinder of the Seas.” Maury gave crucial support to Cyrus Field and the idea of a transatlantic cable by showing Field the route that a cable could take across the ocean.

Circling the Globe
Raised in Tennessee, Maury yearned to follow in his brother’s footsteps and join the Navy. In 1825, at the age of 19, he received a midshipman’s commission with the help of Sam Houston. Maury spent much of the next nine years at sea, participating in three extended voyages including the first circling of the globe by a U.S. Navy vessel. Dissatisfied with current naval books on navigation, Maury set about to improve them, and his A New Theoretical and Practical Treatise on Navigation was published in 1836.

Continue reading

First Cops. Now Firefighters.

by Kerry Dougherty

I’ve had enough. Chances are you have too.

Enough of lawlessness. Enough of destruction of property. Enough of despicable disrespect for law enforcement.

It’s time to send a message to those bent on mayhem that there are some lines they may not cross.

Interfering with firefighters trying to save lives IS that line.

No doubt you heard. On Monday at about 9 p.m. a motorcyclist apparently lost control of his bike and slammed into a tree in the Seatack neighborhood of Virginia Beach.

As emergency workers arrived a crowd of gawkers materialized. The numbers quickly swelled to between 75 and 100, according to news reports.

For reasons that are unclear and can NEVER be justified, some of the spectators began pushing and kicking the first responders. Continue reading

The Kraken Cannot Be Appeased

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney informed City Council today that he would use his emergency powers to remove multiple monuments in the city, including Confederate statues. Failure to remove the monuments, it seems, presents a threat to public safety.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protestors attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves, or confront others who are doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury, or death,” the mayor said. “We have an urgent need to protect the public.”

Interesting: The statues are the threat to the public, not the crowds breaking the law by defying curfews, and not the mobs, too impatient to work through the judicial process, taking the law into their own hands by tearing the statues down.

Stoney also argued that immediate removal will expedite “the healing process” in the city.

To borrow a line from “Clash of the Titans,” the Kraken has been released. The Kraken is running amok. The Kraken is not interested in healing. The Kraken is not in the mood for compromise. The Kraken will move from Civil War statues to monuments to slaveholders like George Washington, and then to those who hold views now deemed racist… which includes just about any white Virginian who lived before 1960.

— JAB

Statues for Me But Not for Thee

A new law goes into effect today giving power to local governments to remove monuments and memorials for war veterans, making good on Governor Ralph Northam’s promise to use the process of law to rid the commonwealth of Confederate monuments. Numerous local governments across the state have indicated that they will use their new authority to purge the past.

Perhaps this has been noted elsewhere, but I don’t recall it: There is one exemption in the language of the law, which reads: “The bill … does not apply to a monument or memorial located on the property of a public institution of higher education within the City of Lexington.”

There is only one public institution of higher education in the City of Lexington — the Virginia Military Institute. VMI has two Civil War memorials: one a statue of Stonewall Jackson, an instructor at VMI before he earned renown as a military commander, and the other a monument to those, including several VMI cadets, who fell at the Battle of New Market, entitled, “Virginia Mourning Her Dead.” Continue reading

Blue Lives Don’t Matter

Newport News police officer Katherine M. “Katie” Thyne, 24, mother of two, and girl’s basketball coach, was killed in January during a traffic stop. In the incident, she was dragged about a block and pinned between the fleeing car and a tree.

by James A. Bacon

Last week Virginia Senate Democrats unveiled a 27-bill package of criminal justice “reforms” they will advance in the special session that Governor Ralph Northam has said he expects to call this August. Some have potential merit, such as a slew of proposals to hold law-enforcement officers accountable for unjustified use of force. But some seem to be scripted to ruin police morale.

The list released by the Senate Dems provides only a bare-bones description of what the initiatives entail. There is no way to know exactly what legislators have in mind until we see the bills. Even so, there’s reason enough to sound the sirens. Bacon’s Rebellion will take a closer look at the more alarming proposals as time permits. For now, I want to focus on one: “defelonizing” assaults on law enforcement officers.

Under current law, anyone convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer is guilty of a Class 6 felony and subject to a mandatory minimum term of confinement of six months. The proposal would reduce assaults to misdemeanors. Continue reading

Stop the Problem Before It Starts

by Chris Braunlich

With the General Assembly taking up policing reform in this summer’s special session, there should be at least one bill stopping a problem before it begins.

Most big problems are created by a small number of people. The same is true of police officer transgressions. Most police officers are good police officers, but Derek Chauvin was a bad cop with 18 prior complaints in 19 years at the time he killed George Floyd. His partner, Tou Thao, has six complaints, including an open one at the point he was fired. The head of their police union, Lt. Bob Kroll, is the subject of at least 29 complaints.

Their continued presence was an insult to the more than 680,000 good law enforcement officers who are guardians of our safety, who took the job to serve the public and who put their lives on the line.

Yet, instead of eliminating a narrow source of major abuse, they were allowed to continue their abuse of Minneapolis citizenry. Why?

Increasingly, we can point to provisions commonly found in Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) negotiated between governments and the police union as part of the contract process. The issue has never arisen in Virginia before, because collective bargaining was prohibited. But Governor Ralph Northam has signed into law legislation that could mean local governments and their police unions next year will negotiate the conditions of the disciplinary process against misbehavior by individual police officers. Continue reading

American Art and Culture Under Attack

by Kerry Dougherty

Francis Scott Key.

Ulysses S. Grant.

George Washington.

Thomas Jefferson.

Teddy Roosevelt.

Andrew Jackson.

Abolitionist Matthias Baldwin.

Juan Ponce de Leon.

St. Junipero Serra.

Lincoln Memorial.

World War I memorial.

World War II memorial.

Denver monument to the victims of Armenian genocide.

Boston’s Shaw Memorial to the 54th Regiment: The African-American Union soldiers depicted in the movie “Glory.”

This is just a partial list of statues and monuments that have been defaced, beheaded or toppled in the frenzy of unbridled anarchism that is sweeping the nation.

Continue reading

Are Guns Finally OK Now that Lefties Carry Them?

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

A loosely organized group of men and women with handguns and rifles are patrolling the Lee Statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue “intent on keeping visitors safe,” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Asked why she needed to carry a gun and participate in a volunteer security force, 19-year-old Jasmine Kelley replied, “I don’t want to die.”

That sounds paranoid to me, but as long as Ms. Kelley and her gun-toting friends are obeying the law, I don’t have a problem. The residents of the immediate neighborhood might feel nervous, and I wouldn’t blame them, but Virginia is a right-to-carry state.

I wonder what the tut-tutters who disapproved of the show of arms by peaceful protesters at the gun-rights rally in the state capitol last January might have to say.

— JAB

The Systemic Racism of Monument Avenue

By Peter Galuszka

Richmond’s grand Monument Avenue, a double lane, tree lined thoroughfare, has been the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter campaign that has focused on the statues of several Confederate figures one the road, including Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis.

All are up for removal, but the same foot-dragging that has for years protected the statues that some consider racist is at work today. Protestors have torn down Davis and have defaced the rest. On Sunday night, they nearly ripped down the Stuart statue as two city council members urged that it be removed on an emergency basis.

Lee’s statue has been ordered down by Gov. Ralph Northam, but the effort has been tied up in lawsuits by several property owners. One claims either that the original deed that gave the state the site for Lee included language that it could not be removed. Other plaintiffs, most anonymous,  claim that removing the statues would hurt their property values and their special tax status.

If anything smacks of white privilege and entitlement, this is it. But for more perspective, this article in The Atlantic neatly sums up the history behind the statues and the Avenue, noting that the issue has everything to do with rewriting Richmond’s history and making a marketing play to sell expensive and exclusive real estate decades after the Confederacy was suppressed. Continue reading

The Very Real Threat of “Boogaloo”

By Peter Galuszka

White protestors have smeared a statue of Arthur Ashe, the African-American tennis star who faced systemic racism when he was growing up in Richmond.

True, the Ashe memorial had earlier been defaced by “Black Lives Matter” messages spray painted on its base. On Wednesday, a small band of protestors painted over the “BLM” statements with “White Lives Matter” pronouncements.

One of the protestors, a white man who called himself “Everybody,” claimed he had grown up in Richmond and drove off in a sedan with South Carolina plates, according to the Richmond-Times-Dispatch.

What is disturbing is the prospect of violent conflict, perhaps involving fast-firing, assault-style rifles, between opposing camps.

Much has been made of the so-called threat posed by ANTIFA, said to be a radical left group that is prepared to use violence at protests, which have been largely peaceful in Virginia and across the country. Continue reading