Category Archives: Culture wars

Virginia Democrats Govern in the Service of Dogma and Power

by James C. Sherlock

Karl Marx

Socialism and communism are so 19th and 20th centuries.  

Under socialism, individuals would still own property. But industrial production, which was the chief means of generating wealth, was to be communally owned and managed by a democratically elected government.

Socialists sought change and reform, but sought to make those changes through democratic processes within the existing social and political structure, not to overthrow that structure.  Socialism was to be based on the consent of the governed. Communism sought the elimination of personal property and the violent overthrow of existing social and political structures.

So what has changed for today’s progressives who have taken over the Democratic party, especially in Virginia? 

A lot. Continue reading

The VMI Questionnaire: Honest Inquiry or Stacked Deck?

by James A. Bacon

As part of its “equity audit” at the Virginia Military Institute, the Barnes & Thornburg law firm is conducting a survey of VMI cadets, alumni, professors and staff to gauge perceptions of racism at the military academy. The stated goal is to “better understand the environment and culture of VMI as an institution.”

But many VMI alumni are wondering if the real purpose is to generate data to support a predetermined conclusion: that VMI is a hotbed of racism. As part of its contract with the Northam administration, Barnes & Thornburg will issue recommendations to address the investigation’s findings. Not only are traditions surrounding the academy’s controversial Confederate heritage at stake, but so, too, are such core VMI institutions as the adversarial rat line and the single-sanction honor code.

A copy of the questionnaire was dropped on my doorstep late one night last week, and I have been examining it closely since then. Having had some experience years ago as publisher of Virginia Business magazine in composing readership surveys, I know how important it is to word questions carefully. After reviewing the VMI racism survey, I can see why alumni are alarmed. Given the way the questionnaire was constructed, the investigators could well find data to support whatever conclusions it wants.

Barnes & Thornburg is scheduled to issue a final report in June. To maintain credibility, the report needs to release the entire survey result, including cross-tabs. Outsiders need to be allowed to access the data to verify the investigators’ conclusions. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: More, More, More!

More fiber. A joint venture involving Annandale-based Tenebris Fiber expects to begin constructing a 680-mile regional fiber optic network in Virginia. The network will run through Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties and connect with a Virginia Beach cable landing station that links to Europe and South America with subsea fiber-optic trunk lines, reports Virginia Business. The network will support the continued expansion of Virginia’s data center industry.

More rail. Virginia has finalized agreements with CSX, Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express in a $3.7 billion project to build a new rail bridge over the Potomac River, add new track in the Washington-Richmond corridor, and buy hundreds of miles of passenger right of way from CSX. “This transformative plan will  make travel faster and safer,” declared Governor Ralph Northam in celebrating the signature transportation achievement of his administration. “It will make it easier to move up and down the East Coast, and it will connect urban and rural Virginia.” Even more, he claimed, it will reduce traffic congestion, cut pollution and create “a more inclusive economy.” So reports The Washington Post. I have yet to see a cost-benefit analysis of this massive investment. But with Uncle Joe planning a $2.3 trillion infrastructure boondoggle, Virginia will be getting lots of free money, so who cares?

More thought crimes. Kiara Jennings, who leads Loudoun’s Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC), said teachers who did not fully embrace the county’s diversity training should not be tolerated. “If our teachers and staff cannot be open and willing to learn how to be culturally competent then they do not need to be in the classrooms any longer,” she wrote in an email, as reported by The Daily Wire. The MSAAC then posted this on its Facebook page: “There is strength in numbers and we believe wholeheartedly, that united, we can and will silence the opposition.”

Board of Education Downgrades Qualifications for Science Teachers

by James C. Sherlock

“Every student succeeds” is the motto of the state education plan. Let’s take a look and see how this focus on “student success” is playing out in the day-to-day policy judgments of the Board of Education.

This column has reported that the Board of Education, in pursuit of “equity,” is actively reducing the qualifications of teachers for classroom instruction.

This one will explain how Virginia arrived at a passing score for the Praxis Middle School Science Teacher exam that allowed the applicant to get more than half of the questions wrong on the test and still step in front of your child’s classroom.

The Board process made no reference at all to students. Continue reading

Northam School Policy: The Gendered Majority Must Accommodate the Tiny Transgender Minority

by James A. Bacon

When Virginians voted for mild-mannered, middle-of-the-road Ralph Northam for governor in 2017, they had no clue that he would preside over the most sweeping transformation of public education since the end of Massive Resistance. Even while students were suffering from a catastrophic loss of learning due to the COVID-19-driven shift to online instruction, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) preoccupied itself with implementing Critical Race Theory. Now, we learn, the Northam administration also has been busy figuring out how to restructure public schools around the needs of transgender students.

The VDOE has issued a document describing “model policies” for the treatment of transgender students in Virginia’s public schools. Two conservative groups have filed suit to halt implementation of the guidelines. Not surprisingly, The Washington Post has disparaged these organizations, noting that the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified one as a “hate group” and that the other, the Family Foundation of Virginia, among other crimes against humanity was originally founded to oppose sex education.

Karl Frisch, an LGBTQ member of the Fairfax School Board, described the lawsuits as “a mean-spirited attempt to turn the clock back on equality in Virginia. “Our students deserve better than bigotry and hate.”

The litigation, said Northam spokesperson Alena Yarmosky, “is beyond the pale.”

So… Anyone who defends social norms that have prevailed for 2,000 years and objects to faddish constructs that have popped into the popular culture in just the last few years is a bigot, a hater, and engaged in behavior outside the bounds of acceptable discourse. Continue reading

Virginia to Teach Critical Race Theory to Newborns

by James C. Sherlock

George Orwell

George Orwell, call your office. A copy of “Virginia’s (New) Birth-to-Five Early Learning and Development Standards” is on your desk.

For our readers, go here and click the March 19 VDOE press release to download.

The Commonwealth has publishedVirginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning” since at least 2013. They were excellent but voluntary. 

Progressives cannot abide voluntary.

They have always considered parents the biggest obstacle to turning kids into little “social justice” warriors. Virginia’s General Assembly progressives have fixed that problem. The new program is mandatory unless you keep your kids at home until they must by law attend K-12.

Where your kids will get a “late” start on that journey.

Parents have no voice, much less rights in the matter. That is a progressive definition of heaven. (If that word has not been cancelled — hard to keep up.) Continue reading

$15,000 an Hour to Peddle Racist Stereotypes? Not Bad Money If You Can Get It.

Glenn Singleton

by Hans Bader

School systems now routinely subject students and staff to racist scapegoating under the guise of promoting “diversity” or “anti-racism.” Radio broadcaster Rob Schilling reports on one example in Virginia: the Albemarle County Public Schools’ hiring of diversity-trainer Glenn Singleton. Singleton’s firm is getting paid a whopping $15,000 to give a one-hour seminar. Singleton blames white teachers for poor performance by black students, even as he promotes offensive racial stereotypes, claiming that “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while minority talk is “emotional.”

As Schilling notes, progressive Albemarle County requires “all school division employees” to “participate in a compulsory one-hour race-intensive Zoom seminar” by Singleton on March 26. The schools are paying “$15,000 (plus additional technology expenses of approximately $1,000)” for this brief seminar. And that’s not the whole cost: “A schools’ spokesperson was unable to ascertain” the cost to pay hundreds of “employees not otherwise working at the time of the presentation.” Continue reading

White Power and White Supremacy in… Charlottesville?

by James A. Bacon

Most mayors profess to love their city and its citizens. That’s not the case, apparently, with Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker. In a word, she thinks that Charlottesville residents — in particular white Charlottesville residents — suck. Don’t take my word for it. Read her Facebook feed for details. Continue reading

How to Contextualize a Confederate Statue

Clarke County courthouse. Credit: Wikipedia

by James Wyatt Whitehead V

On March 18th, 2021, the Clarke County Board of Supervisors accepted the eight-member Monument Committee’s recommendations for the Berryville courthouse Confederate Monument. The six-point platform, approved by the committee in a seven-to-one vote, called for:

  1. Dedicating the Courthouse Green to memorials and education.  Efforts should be made to recognize the contributions of African Americans in the Civil War.
  2. Preserving the Confederate monument with contextualization added.
  3. Placing additional memorials to highlight the service of more than 90 African-American soldiers in the Union armed forces as well as the recognition of Thomas Laws, a slave and informant for the Union army.
  4. Renaming one of the courthouse buildings in honor of a noted African American from Clarke County’s past.
  5. Acquisition of the Confederate monument by Clarke County.
  6. Enlisting private groups and citizens to fund the Courthouse Green improvements.

Continue reading

Richmond Ballet: From Celebrating the Sublime to Defining the Dysfunctional

by Ann McLean

Who does not love “The Nutcracker” performance by the Richmond Ballet at Christmas? The beautiful costumes and magnificent stage sets, the grace of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara, the drama of the Mouse King and the delightful vision of the prince and princess traveling in the sleigh together, are visions many look forward to experiencing. White tulle tutus,  dancers on “point,” a hand held just so…a lift, a twirl, a gracefully held arm… the precision and careful movements of classical ballet transport the viewer out of the mundane to a place where the human spirit can soar with possibility.

Human potential — a vision of the goodness and promise of mankind — is on view with classical ballet. Viewers can enjoy the vocabulary of the practiced movements, beautiful set designs, and the carefully choreographed arrangements. Classical ballet is a transformative experience. Nothing quite heals from the drudgery of a long winter like the ballet, especially when combined with the musical arrangements and skill of Pytor Tchaikovsky.

So, it was with tulle and tutus in mind that I attended the Ballet’s February 18th Studio Series performance. After nearly a year of COVID restrictions, social distancing, masking diktats, sheltering at home, and disappointingly small Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, I needed the ballet. The fall production had, sadly, featured only one “classical” piece — but that magnificent opening dance had lingered in my memory for months. The contemporary pieces, though athletic and skillfully performed, did not transport the spirit in the same way. Continue reading

Will Northam’s Equity Initiatives Actually Advance Equity?

by James A. Bacon

A reader has forwarded to me an email exchange between herself and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) regarding the implementation of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Virginia schools,

My correspondent received a polite response from “Constituent Services” thanking her for her query. Without addressing CRT directly, the VDOE representative mentioned a number of Northam administration initiatives regarding the teaching of history and implementation of culturally relevant practices. Then she wrote the following, which describes the Northam approach to K-12 education more clearly and succinctly than I have seen anywhere.

Our goal is to maximize the potential of ALL learners by eliminating the predictability of student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status, or languages spoken at home. This will be accomplished through continuous reflection, cultural responsiveness, courageous leadership, compassionate student and family engagement, and curriculum reframing.

Continue reading

The War of Words over Robert E. Lee

A Conversation with Ty Seidule from Washington and Lee News on Vimeo.

Washington & Lee University recently hosted a video presentation by Ty Seidule, author of “Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause.” Seidule grew up in Alexandria, where he says he was raised to think of Lee as a god. He certainly doesn’t anymore. In a nutshell, he argues in his book, the No. 1 best seller in Amazon’s books on the history of the Confederacy, that Lee was a traitor to the United States who fought to defend slavery. 

Neely Young and Alfred Eckes present their defense of Lee in a shorter video produced by The Generals Redoubt, a group of W&L alumni dedicated to preserving the Lee name and heritage.

Continue reading

We Are Losing Sight of Public Health in Vaccination Debates

by James C. Sherlock

We in the process of losing our collective minds.

I read a story in the Roanoke Times by LuAnne Rife “One-third of Virginia’s long-term care workers declined COVID-19 vaccinations, as homes reopen to visitors.

We read other stories about teachers refusing vaccinations. They do it pointing to the fact that the vaccines are still under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Some parents, going with the flow, refuse to vaccinate their children not just for COVID when those vaccines are available for children, but for the MMR vaccine already mandatory for school attendance in Virginia.

Some teachers and students then “demand” that the schools accommodate their preferences. Cue the anti-vaxxer hysteria.

We got to this point partly because the culture’s political and media elites spent eight months prior to the federal election conditioning the American public, who before COVID by and large did not spend five minutes a year worrying about vaccinations, to think of vaccines as dangerous. Especially if President Trump’s FDA approved them.

They did it for political reasons. Now they need to help fix what they broke. Continue reading

Odd Behavior by a Loudoun County Teachers / Parents Group

by DJ Rippert

Author’s note. There is a story circulating about a private Facebook group focused on Loudoun County schools that is keeping an “enemies list” of people opposed to Critical Race Theory (CRT) as it is being used in the Loudoun County Public Schools. The members of the group reportedly include teachers, parents, school board members and at least one prosecutor. Some within the group have reportedly gone so far as to seek hackers to compromise the websites of groups opposing CRT in Loudoun County.

I initially picked up this story from an article in The Bull Elephant written by Jeanine Martin. The story was titled, “Loudoun County teachers plot war of harassment against parents and others who disagree with racial curriculum.”  That article, published Tuesday, relied on information from and The Daily Wire. I was not sufficiently confident in those sources to either ask for permission to repost Ms. Martin’s article or to write my own summary. However, the story continued to gain traction yesterday and today in the conservative media  Fox News and The Washington Times have picked up on the story. Finally, there is a direct quote attributed to a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (Kraig Troxell) stating, “The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the situation and the information has been forwarded to our criminal investigations division to review the matter.” Given that, I believe there is something going on that merits the attention of Bacon’s Rebellion readers. Continue reading

The Resistance Gathers: UVa Edition

This letter to University of Virginia alumni and parents appears in a petition. As of 11:00 p.m., March 18, it had racked up 1,769 signatures. — JAB

As students at the University of Virginia during a time of crisis, we are reaching out for alumni and parent support. Unfortunately, we are writing this letter anonymously because we have seen a violent backlash at the University toward people who speak up against COVID restrictions. As for Alumni, during your time at the University, voices that spoke in favor of freedom and the student experience did not receive the same treatment, and were likely hailed as leaders and protectors of the invaluable traditions that have been crucial aspects of student life here for generations. As for parents, you undoubtedly sent your child to this University under the impression that the principles stated above would be represented by our leaders, but we must apologize to the many parents of first years. This has been an abysmal year, and we can say first hand that the experience of first years has been worse than we could have ever imagined. Continue reading