Category Archives: Culture wars

Senator Warner’s Odd Silence on Violence

Photo credit: Sputnik News

by Emilio Jaksetic

Since the tragic death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 at the hands of a police officer, there have been thousands of (mostly peaceful) demonstrations and hundreds of riots and civil disturbances in towns and cities across the United States. Some took place in Richmond, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Fredericksburg and other Virginia jurisdictions.

Senator Mark Warner, D-VA, issued over 200 press releases between May 25, 2020 and October 22, 2020, covering a wide variety of issues and topics. The releases tell Virginians what he thinks about a wide range of legislation, government activities, issues, and events. But they leave Virginians in the dark about how he sees the many violent civil disturbances that have roiled America.

Since the death of George Floyd, the senator has issued four press releases relating to the civil unrest: Continue reading

Racism Case Settled

The Amet family and Cape Henry Collegiate have settled their differences arising from an incident in which school officials suspended 16-year-old Connor Amet after accusing him of expressing white supremacist statements in class. The school and family released the following statement.

Cape Henry Collegiate and the Amet Family have met regarding a recent issue that resulted from a classroom discussion. It became the subject of a letter from the Amets’ attorney that subsequently appeared on the Bacon’s Rebellion blog. Without commenting on the letter’s content or the incident that precipitated it, the School and the Amet Family are both satisfied after our meeting. Cape Henry seeks to foster an inclusive environment on our Virginia  Beach campus where we focus on individual students and their success, both in the classroom and in life.

The letter, republished here, described from Connor’s perspective how teachers and administrators had incorrectly imputed racist sentiments to his words in a classroom discussion about immigration, berated him repeatedly, and suspended him.


Private Schools No Haven from the Thought Police

If you thought sending your child to private school offered any protection against the spreading and increasingly totalitarian virus of Critical Race Theory, consider a recent incident at Cape Henry Collegiate School in Virginia Beach. I publish here an open letter, written by attorney Timothy Anderson, on behalf of student Connor Amet, to school officials. The letter should be read with caution: It represents Connor’s view, not those of school officials. But if the incidents described are remotely representative of actual events, they should terrify every Virginian who values independent thinking and free expression. — JAB

Christopher Garran, headmaster of Cape Henry Collegiate School

On October 7, 2020, Connor Amet (“Connor”) was a student at Cape Henry Collegiate School (“Cape Henry”) and was in Mr. [William] Fluharty’s club for global scholars. On that day, Mr. Fluharty commenced a discussion on immigration to the group via Zoom. During that conversation, when there was a discussion about President Trump on immigration and whether immigration is bad/good, Connor weighed in that immigration could have detrimental effects on society. Connor’s opinion was based on his understanding of conflicts that have historically risen in societies that have multicultural immigration policies. Continue reading

Your Most Important School Board Vote Ever

Dungeness School House Sequim Washington

by James C. Sherlock

It is no secret that many voters in the past have gone to the polls without any clear idea of who they will vote for in the school board contests.

This year, because of the unprecedented twin black swan events of COVID disruptions and the adoption of critical race theory policies and attacks on Asian students at the state level, the local school board contests are more important than ever.

Each school board candidate is on record somewhere, often in the local newspaper if you have one, as to their positions on key issues. I will suggest what to look for and what to ask if the answer is not apparent.

It starts with teacher retention and recruitment. We don’t pay them enough and ask them to do too much. Continue reading

Critical Race Theory Permeates New Student Survey in Fairfax Public Schools

‘I don’t need indoctrination, I need a good solid education in math, science, non-revisionist social studies, & English. Is that too much to ask?’

by Asra Q. Nomani

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – On Oct. 19, as students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology opened their laptops to check in for another difficult week of online learning, Principal Ann Bonitatibus had another priority waiting for them: a questionnaire, entitled, “TJHSST Equity Reflection Student Survey.”

The 12-question survey, uploaded here and publicly disclosed in this column for the first time, asked students to “think about your recent experience at TJ as a whole” and provide answers to “help support” an “inclusive and equitable experience at TJ.” The survey asked if teacher “expectations” for students from “diverse groups,” defined in a parenthetical phrase by “(race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status),” are “equitable” at the school, “both for achievement and behavior.” While optional—a sign of a statistically unsound survey—many students felt obliged to take the survey, and, worse, school officials stated it wouldn’t be anonymous. Continue reading

Sorority Member Put on Probation for Criticizing BLM

by James C. Sherlock

Kappa Alpha Theta University of Kansas – credit New York Post

I quote below a story from the New York Post posted today at 7:48 AM and authored by Lee Brown.

Karl Marx is alive and living in Kansas.

The sound you hear is George Orwell turning over in his grave.

Does anyone think this can’t happen in Virginia?

A University of Kansas sorority has put a member on probation for “unbecoming” behavior on social media — for sharing a post criticizing Black Lives Matter.

Continue reading

Does Racism Still Reside At VMI?

The Stonewall Jackson statue at VMI.

By Peter Galuszka

On this blog, at least, there has been plenty of grief at the University of Virginia over controversies involving diversity. But over at Lexington, a town not far away, an even bigger battle involving the issue has been engaged.

Black students and alumni at the Virginia Military Institute, the state’s public military college, complain that the institution is involved in systemic racism that hasn’t gone away years after Blacks and women were finally allowed to enter.

Students complain that they are criticized and told to leave the school if they object to having white supremacist figures, such as Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, included in school emblems, hear classroom stories by a faculty member favoring the Ku Ku Klan and face social media insults decrying the color of their skin, according to The Washington Post. Continue reading

Envision This: a Lawn with No Signage

Look, ma, no signs! Residential rooms on the University of Virginia’s Lawn in 2010 before unsightly signage became ubiquitous. Source: mbell1975 flickr account.

by James A. Bacon

In a letter written to Aubrey Daniel, one of the strongest critics of the UVa administration, Rector James B. Murray Jr. brings out new facts and arguments regarding Jim Ryan’s handling of the “F— UVA” Lawn sign controversy.

Criticism has focused on a student’s use of profanity in a sign on the door of her Lawn residence. Although the university has rules against the indiscriminate display of signage, it has not enforced them in recent years. Therefore, Ryan has decided, singling out the student to remove her offensive sign at this time would violate her right to free speech. Recent photos focusing on a handful of offensive signs, Murray writes, “do not tell the full story.” He elaborates: Continue reading

UVa’s Lawn Scandal — Bad Leadership and Worse Lawyering

Ms. Azher’s pinboard pictured here has a note that states: “I stand with farm workers”

by James C. Sherlock, University of Virginia, College of Arts and Sciences, 1966

Hira Azher’s profane sign on the door of her room on the University of Virginia’s Lawn has made headlines, and the ensuing controversy has raised many questions. This article will highlight a new issue. University administrators, I will argue, botched the handling of the incident by turning what should have been a breach-of-contract issue into a constitutional freedom-of-speech case.

After alumni raised objections to the now-infamous sign, which said “F— UVA,” President Jim Ryan sought legal advice from University Counsel Timothy Heaphy. Heaphy concluded that the student’s use of profanity was protected by the First Amendment. Although the resident contract signed by Lawn residents gives the University the right to regulate signage, he argued, the institution’s failure to enforce that particular provision in the past essentially gave Azher a pass.

But my analysis suggests that the contract is clear. The University could have enforced it when Ms. Azher breached it with her door sign, which is prohibited by both the contract and University fire regulations.

Mr. Heaphy serves both the University President and the Board of Visitors. He gave each of them and the rest of us bad information. The public representations of the President, the Board and the Counsel himself on facts of the case do not withstand a fact check of the housing contract that Heaphy’s own lawyers wrote and that Azher signed and continues to violate.  Continue reading

What Is Cuccinelli’s Role in Defining Extremism?

Photo credit: Forbes

By Peter Galuszka

Allegations that the Wolverine Watchmen, a far right extremist group based in Michigan, discussed kidnapping Gov. Ralph Northam draw questions about the role another Virginia politician has played in defining extremist threats.

Kenneth Cuccinelli a former Republican attorney general and failed gubernatorial candidate, has been accused of helping delay a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that designated white supremacist groups as the biggest domestic threat the country faces.

That apparently is at odds with President Donald Trump’s view that threats by the so-called “Antifa” leftist groups are the main worry.

Cuccinelli is currently acting deputy to Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported that Cuccinelli helped block an assessment by former Homeland Security intelligence chief Brian Murphy that white supremacists are the larger threat. Continue reading

Ryan Wilts in Conversation with Azher

UVa President Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

I concluded my previous column, “Hira Azher Speaks,” by asking the question, what is it about the University of Virginia that foments such deep-felt aggrievement and resentment that Azher, a self-described Muslim person of color, would feel motivated to plaster the words “Fuck UVA” on the door of her Lawn residence? Azher would say that she is motivated by the desire to condemn UVa’s culture of “white supremacy.” For many people, such an explanation is sufficient. But for those of us who find it absurd to describe the modern-day institution as a bastion of white supremacy, Azher’s sentiments call for a deeper explanation. The question I ask is this: Has the ideology of grievance and victimhood created a toxic culture at UVa?

The intellectual currents underpinning the left-wing Oppression Narrative run deep. But this also is part of the problem: UVa’s leaders — in particular, President Jim Ryan — share so many of the underlying assumptions of that narrative that they find themselves incapable of responding forcefully to students like Azher. UVa’s leaders are conflicted, therefore, they are weak.

Ryan’s ambivalence comes through clearly in conversation with Azher, which she recorded and posted on Twitter. “For everyone who asked about the convo with Jim Ryan,” she tweeted, “he kept laughing, talked about himself, & ignored everything I said :))” 

Having read the transcript and listened to part of the recording, I have a very different reaction. Ryan was very solicitous of Azher’s views. He allowed her to do most of the talking. She was confident and forceful. He, like a supplicant, laughed nervously in places. Never disputing her assertions about the prevalence of white privilege, he meekly pressed the point that the KKK reference and her use of profanity was counterproductive to winning over people to the need for “change” that both she and he shared. Continue reading

The “F— UVA” Girl Speaks

Hira Azher, from her Twitter account

by James A. Bacon

Hira Azher, the young University of Virginia woman thrust into the limelight after she posted the infamous “Fuck UVA” sign on the door of her Lawn residence, has written a column in the Cavalier Daily to defend her action, lambaste UVa President Jim Ryan, and attack the university as a white supremacist institution.

Ms. Azher comes across as self-absorbed and self-pitying, wallowing in the rhetoric of grievance and victimhood. If you think that assessment is harsh, read the column for the full text to see if I am portraying her views unfairly. 

By way of background, Azher told WVIR TV that she was prompted to mount the sign on the door after suffering an injury and surgery to her ankle. She faulted the university for its lack of Americans for Disability Act accessibility on the Lawn and its response to her injury. “The solution was not to make the lawn more accessible,” she said, “the solution was to find me alternative housing for up to a month, which in itself is a problem.”

In the commentary, she writes:

<i>”As a Muslim woman of color at this University, I am constantly and painstakingly aware that this institution was not made for people like me, and everyday, the University continues to function and uphold white supremacist ideals that makes this very clear for marginalized students across the Grounds.”</i> Continue reading

The Plot to Nab Northam

By Peter Galuszka

Self-styled “militia” members based in Michigan accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also considered nabbing Ralph Northam, Virginia’s governor, according to court testimony Tuesday.

Both Democratic governors were considered fair game because they supposedly had taken strong measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

At a hearing in Grand Rapids, Mich., an FBI agent testified that the militia members, thought to be part of a hard-right group, targeted Northam along with several others because of their aggressive stances in containing COVID 19.

A total of 13 people have been charged in connection with the Michigan case. Some were plotting to instigate a “civil war” and the others were planning on kidnapping Gov. Whitmer.

According to testimony, the idea was the seize Whitmer, put her on a boat, take her to the middle of Lake Michigan, damage the motor, set her adrift and see if she would be rescued.

There was no information about what could have become of Northam or if another boating mishap was in planning stages for him. Continue reading

Latest Woke Madness: Stop Enforcing Minor Traffic Offenses

City of Richmond traffic citations by race/ethnicity and sex in 2018. Source: City of Richmond Police Department.

by James A. Bacon

The General Assembly has passed HB 5058, which would prevent law enforcement officers from stopping motorists for driving with busted mufflers, headlights, and brake lights, driving with an expired registration sticker, or failure to wear a seatbelt.

“This [legislation] bubbled up to a high level of concern because of the disproportionate number of black and brown communities that tend to be targeted for these pretextual [traffic] stops,” sponsor Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, told The Virginia Star. “We wanted to create a bill that would eliminate or at least significantly curve those number of interactions that frequently escalate. So that is what you have before you, a bill to try to eliminate those unnecessary interactions.”

Law enforcement spokesmen oppose the bill. Said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman: “I think the bill in itself, from everything that I’ve read about it, is just an affront to common sense and public safety. And to have a bill like that pass through both the House and the Senate and go to the Governor for signage is really ill conceived and just a true detriment to the safety of our public.” Continue reading

The Cancel Culture Knows No Bounds. Where Does It End?

Contextualize this! Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: Parade

by James A. Bacon

Thomas M. Neale, a lead organizer of the University of Virginia alumni revolt, has written a letter with 200 co-signatories to the Board of Visitors decrying the “cancel culture” permeating the university. The board has voted to rename the Curry School of Education, remove the George Rogers Clark statues, and contextualize the Thomas Jefferson Statue on the Lawn, he says. Intellectual consistency, he argues, would require eradication of all segregation-era university administrators, regardless of their contributions to society, on the grounds that they all shared some taint of oppression.

If Thomas Jefferson needs to be “contextualized” then so do 100% of all Southern leaders prior to the Civil War. This should be extended to 20th century leaders if they presided over universities, businesses, towns, counties, villages or military units that practiced segregated policies. Throw in US presidents prior to 1964 who did not make ending Jim Crow a priority. This is not hyperbole. It is a logical extension of the Racial Equity Task Force’s recommendations.

We ask again… where does this end?

Neal asks an important question: Where does it end? No one at the UVa — or anywhere, for that matter — has articulated logical bounds for the creeping de-legitimization and eradication of past leaders. Cancellations have been applied arbitrarily amidst inflamed passions, and only against targets of Leftist disapproval. No one, I would observe, has suggested contextualizing Martin Luther King, America’s greatest Civil Rights hero, even though his misogynistic behavior, which would make Donald Trump look like a choir boy, should be regarded as grotesque by the #metoo movement. (See “The troubling legacy of Martin Luther King” for a horrific summary of evidence from FBI documents.)

Here follows the full text of Neale’s letter: Continue reading