Category Archives: Culture wars

Constitutionality of Vaccination Mandate

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been much opposition expressed on this blog regarding UVa, and, by extension, other higher education institutions, requiring students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID as a requirement for attending class in the fall.  The policy has been said to be, among other things, unconstitutional.

Not surprisingly, a judge has spoken. Today, a federal district judge ruled in favor of Indiana University in a suit brought challenging that university’s vaccination mandate. The court said, “The Fourteenth Amendment permits Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff.”

Of course, this is only one judge and it is not unusual for judges in different parts of the country to rule differently on similar points of law. Also, a district court’s ruling is generally applicable only in that district, but the case is likely to have some precedential value elsewhere.

The challengers have vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Some Peoples’ Pain Matters More than Others’

Robert E. Lee statue on Richmond’s Monument Ave. Photo credit: Jay Paul/Reuters.

by Catesby Leigh

After George Floyd’s fatally brutal arrest, dozens of Confederate monuments were banished from civic settings throughout the South. And their ranks were further thinned last weekend, when Charlottesville’s equestrian statues to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were finally hoisted off their pedestals after a prolonged legal battle.

But the fate of what may be the most important Confederate statue of all has yet to be determined. The magnificent equestrian tribute to Lee on Richmond’s Monument Avenue — the old Confederate capital’s principal venue for Lost Cause commemoration — is still standing. Its majestically rusticated granite pedestal, 40 feet tall, was hideously defaced with obscenity-laced graffiti during last year’s Black Lives Matter–Antifa agitation. Rings of graffitied jersey barriers and chain-link fencing eight feet high now gird the monument, situated on a turfed circle 200 feet wide. Despite some splashes of paint, the bronze statue itself appears undamaged, and its handsome silhouette, when viewed from a distance, is unimpaired. Continue reading

Only the Courts Are Protecting Virginians – Again

by James C. Sherlock

Barton Swain explores a topic in the Wall Street Journal that bears examination in Virginia. He makes a profound observation:

“The sheer illogic of (the Texas election laws) controversy captures something essential about culture-war progressives. They are able to embrace a cause, condemn dissenters and doubters as monsters, and experience no cognitive dissonance despite having themselves held the contrary view a short time ago.”

It is evidence of a rejection by many of their own personal and political histories — of positions they once claimed on moral grounds. They dismiss citizens as beneath contempt for beliefs that until recently they held themselves. 

Sackcloth and ashes are not often in evidence, unless you count black face. Continue reading

The Authoritarian Nature of DE&I Training

Stay in step…. Or else.

TO: The President, the College Board, the Faculty, the Staff, and the Constituents of Northern Virginia Community College

FROM: Dr. A Schuhart (DACCE), Professor of English, NVCC-Annandale

DATE: 04/19/2021

RE:  Letter of Dissent

After completing the required DEI training, it is clear to me that the claims of this training are a direct expression of Critical Race Theory (CRT). There is also absolutely no question that CRT is a scholarly claim, not an objective truth; therefore, it is a tentative, constructed truth about which individual Faculty may rightly and legally have professional disagreement, and whose construction and communication is governed by principles of academic discourse; and, that among these principles are:

  • the individual scholar’s right to determine the truth of any scholarly claim independently,
  • and, that truth is created through democratic consensus, and it cannot be imposed through process or force or law without invalidating the claim itself, nor can a scholar be required to enact such a truth against individual belief or conscience without infringing on that right of independent evaluation;
  • and, that the majority opinion cannot impose its view upon the minority using institutional process or force or law, and that the principle of Academic Freedom specifically and intentionally protects minority opinion in every scholarly claim;
  • and, that these rights are asserted not for the scholar alone, but also for the Citizens in our classes. Continue reading

The Left’s Plan to Drive a Huge Shortage of K-12 Teachers

Becky Pringle, NEA President

by James C. Sherlock

The left has designed Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) in no small part to drive current K-12 teachers with traditional values out of the profession.

Leftists hope to have set in motion a five-step process:

  1. It will be clear in a couple of years that the plan has worked. With Virginia already facing a teacher shortage, VDOE continues to push CRT, SEL and other progressive ideals such as the colossal overreach of a transgender child policy that converts appropriate accommodations into recruitment.
  2. Working conditions will continue to worsen for those:
    • who want to teach kids reading, writing, mathematics, science and the other academic disciplines without being forced into service in loco parentis to train social justice warriors in violation of their personal standards and those of most parents;
    • who wish to protect their personal values and dignity in their chosen profession.
  3. The state will be shocked — shocked —  that there are not nearly enough teachers to staff the schools.
  4. Virginia will continue its ongoing reductions in the qualifications for licensure. (Example:  For the Middle School Science Praxis test, the Educational Testing Service, after exhaustive research, recommended a cut score of 152 corresponding to a raw score of 61 out of 100. The Virginia Board of Education recently authorized a cut score of 147, corresponding to a raw score of 57 out of 100.)
  5. Nothing will stem the tide. President Biden will be asked to declare a national emergency and ask for a trillion dollars to increase the numbers of teachers without, this time, looking for root causes.

This is an easy assessment of what the left wants, not the least because they admit it. Most radical progressives are not stupid, just wrong. Those five steps are exactly what they seek.

Continue reading

Flooding the Zone at VDOE

Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is absolutely relentless.

Defenders in a zone defense in football are responsible for areas of the field, rather than following a specific receiver. Offenses often attack these defenses by flooding a zone — sending three receivers into an area covered by two defenders.  

But at least there are 11 players on both sides of the ball.

VDOE is trying to flood  defenders of traditional K-12 education, not with strategy, but with superior numbers of players.

The enormous staff of VDOE, backed by state-funded University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University ed school professors, attacks traditional roles of parents and teachers on so many fronts simultaneously that they are very hard to defend.

I just read the VDOE Teacher Direct Newsletter published July 14, 2021. 

Below are a few of the headlines along with some of the VDOE guidance for teachers.

Continue reading

“Let Them Die”

by James A. Bacon

The rhetoric is getting ugly out there, folks.

In a counter-protest (against those protesting the enactment of admissions policies that discriminate against Asian-American students) at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Michelle Leete, an official with the Fairfax County NAACP and state and district PTAs, said the following: Continue reading

Extirpation of Memory

by Donald Smith

In deciding which Confederate iconography should remain visible at the Virginia Military Institute, the school’s Commemorations and Memorials Naming and Review sub-committee (CMNRC) identified four major items of commemoration to Stonewall Jackson at the Main Post. Most famously, there was the statue sculpted by VMI alumnus  and Battle of New Market veteran Moses Ezekiel, but Jackson’s name appears  on Memorial Hall, while his name is engraved on an arch at the Old Barracks, while a quote attributed to him is also displayed there.

This past November the Board of Visitors (B0V) voted to remove the statue. In May it approved the removal of drastic alteration of the other three items.

The criteria that drove these decisions appear in this document, Finding Meaning in the Landscape and Criteria By Which To Assess It.

A comparison of key passages from that CMNRC document and the Board of Visitors’ decision raises many questions. Continue reading

Fellow Democrats, We Can’t Fix Stupid

by James C. Sherlock

Fellow Democrats, we can’t fix stupid.

News report:

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded Tuesday to criticism by the United Nations’ human rights apparatus of “systemic racism” in the United States by announcing plans to issue a formal, standing invitation to dozens of U.N. rights experts to visit and investigate.”

“It is in this context that the United States intends to issue a formal, standing invitation to all U.N. experts who report and advise on thematic human rights issues.”

“As a first step, Blinken said, the administration has invited two of the experts, the “special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism” and the “special rapporteur on minority issues,” to pay an official visit.”

Continue reading

Community College Libels the Man It Was Named For

Lord Thomas Fairfax

by John Thomson

Present-day controversies on renaming institutions are often about whether we judge the worth of our historical figures by the singular issue of slave-owning.

One particular controversy needs a referee to call a foul: over a historian’s error in a biography of the English lord, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693-1781).

Fairfax lived at Greenway Court, one mile from White Post, Virginia. He had moved from England to manage 5 million acres of an inherited land grant. He resided here, became a part of local history, and was buried in Winchester.

Several decades after the biography was published, the error was unearthed and recently used to justify effacing his name from the local 50-year-old Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC). Continue reading

VMI a Hell-hole for Women, Says… the Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

If you want a case study in why much of the public believes nothing emanating from the mainstream media, read The Washington Post’s latest smear job on the Virginia Military Institute. Staff muckraker Ian Shapira slams the Institute for the misogyny and sexual assault that he, like the Barnes & Thornburg report published in June, alleges to be pervasive there.

I shall delve into the particulars in a moment, but bear in mind a few key points. First, Shapira indicts an entire higher-ed institution on the basis of interviews with “more than a dozen women” who attend or attended VMI in the recent past and implies that their experience is typical. Second, he presents only their side of the story. Third, he does not quote a single woman who describes having had a positive experience at VMI, although there are many who would have gladly obliged. Fourth, he seeks to hold the VMI administration accountable for the fact that young adult males express misogynistic views — in other words, for the administration’s failure to function as thought police. Fifth, he omits statistical evidence showing that assault and rape are less prevalent at VMI than at other higher-ed institutions.

In short, Shapira’s article can be considered journalism only to the extent that he actually talked to some real people instead of making stuff up. His framing of a pre-determined narrative, his cherry picking of anecdotal evidence to support that narrative, and his exclusion of perspectives that would contradict his narrative (other than responses to specific allegations from VMI) can better be classified as propaganda. Continue reading

Can’t Read This? Thank Your Favorite “Top 20” Ed School

by James C. Sherlock

The Washington Post published an informative article on poverty and education. It recognized early on that:

“Educators and policymakers have spent decades — and billions of dollars — trying to figure out how to make it easier for students like Alexa, bright young people who face a cascade of challenges linked to poverty, succeed in school. Almost nothing has stuck.”

How that got past the editors will be the subject of protests in the newsroom later today.

Anyway, it was about the economic and educational struggles of immigrants in California’s central valley. A worthy topic.

The Post didn’t mean poverty in areas like Wise County. You know, coal country Republican voters. Not ever going to be on their radar.

But anyway, thanks for the nod to reality, WP. Continue reading

UVa Offers Social Warrior Lesson Plans to Virginia Kindergarten Teachers

by James C. Sherlock

In case anyone thinks the left ever rests, the University of Virginia ed school has struck another blow to educate children as social warriors through its ”Educating for Democracyproject.  

“Democracy is not a spectator sport; it requires our participation, and this participation must be oriented toward justice. To create a more just democracy, citizens must be able to critically assess systems of inequity and work collaboratively to redress inequity and create lasting change. Dialogue is central to the process and can be transformative. Frequent and effective dialogue can engender equity and inclusion for everyone.” 

“We believe that K-12 students across the country have the power to embody these principles and shape America into the just democracy we all desire and deserve.”

So, since “we all desire” America to be shaped into a “just democracy” from it’s current, presumptively pitiful status, the Educating for Democracy project offers teachers free online lesson plans designed to create social justice warriors.

It is not possible for most to imagine the lengths that radicals will go to take control of the minds of very young children, so I will provide two directly-quoted examples below. Continue reading

Transgender Medical Care for Children – Do not Parents Have a Role?

by James C. Sherlock

Yesterday’s two-part column, I responded to the Virginian-Pilot’s assertion that transgender rights are being conflated by conservatives with critical race theory in schools. 

I agree that they are, and I find it appropriate.  

Child instruction in CRT and transgender affirming psychological and medical interventions for children without parent participation are being advocated by the same people.

Some of our progressive commenters professed shock — shock — that I would characterize VDOE’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools as child transgender advocacy.  

A motion for immediate relief from Model Policies filed in Lynchburg circuit court offered some of the legal objections. Amicus briefs have been filed on both sides. So fair enough to disagree with me.

I will relate two contrasting viewpoints, one expressed in The Washington Post and the other by the the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The first minimizes the role of parents; the other considers parents as partners.

That is the primary political bone of contention in both the CRT in K-12 public schools and transgender student model policies controversies. The rest is details. To argue otherwise is sophistry.  So pick a side. Continue reading

Where Does It End?

The George Rogers Clark statue was removed Sunday. Photo credit: Daily Progress

by James A. bacon

The city of Charlottesville took down its Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues in Charlottesville from their plinths over the weekend. But the purging of Virginia’s past went far beyond the excising of Civil War generals from the public square.

The statue of Governor Harry F. Byrd, a segregationist and architect of the mid-20th century Byrd machine, was removed from Capitol Square in Richmond four days ago. And statues erected to honor Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea as well as George Rogers Clark (a different Clark) were taken from their Charlottesville perches on the grounds that that some native Americans deemed the portrayal of Indians as offensive. 

So, where does it end? The extirpation of politically incorrect statues and memorials started with Civil War generals because it could be argued that they were traitors to the United States who battled to uphold slavery. It was but a small step to purge anyone, even conscripted soldiers, who fought for the Confederacy. And then to anyone who owned a slave, and the another to anyone associated with segregation. And then to anyone associated with the conquest of native Americans. Continue reading