Category Archives: Culture wars

Those Progressive Prosecutors: The Sky Hasn’t Fallen

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been much concern expressed on this blog that the policies of newly elected “progressive” prosecutors in the Commonwealth would lead to increases in crime in those jurisdictions and, perhaps, a dissolution of society. See here, here, here, and here.

Based on data in the recently released Crime in Virginia 2021, these folks can rest easy, at least for now.

I have compared the data for several major crime areas for 2019, the last year before the progressives took office, and 2021, their second year in office in three jurisdictions:  Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties. These three Commonwealth’s attorneys seem to be the ones that have drawn the most ire on this blog.

The results are mixed: increases in some offenses reported and decreases in others. Overall, there does not seem to be a great deal of difference between the number of reported crimes in 2021 and in 2019 under the predecessors to the progressives. If anything, the situation might be a little brighter.

Following is a summary. The details can be found here. Continue reading

The Far-Reaching Implications of the Federal Case of a UVa Medical Student

by James C. Sherlock

This space has hosted commentary before on the case of KIERAN RAVI BHATTACHARYA, Plaintiff, v. JAMES B. MURRAY, et al., Defendants.

Mr. Murray is sued in his role as University of Virginia Rector.

This case relates to Bhattacharya’s suspension and dismissal from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the fall of 2018 and his collateral treatment at the hands of the UVa police.

On October 25, 2018, Bhattacharya attended a panel discussion on “microaggressions” sponsored by the American Medical Women’s Association (“AMWA”) at UVA Medical School. A presentation was given by a Med School professor on her research on microaggressions. Bhattacharya openly, and the University contends aggressively, challenged that research.

(It makes me, and the legal system, wish the plaintiff had reacted similarly on a less politically charged topic.)

Thus began a spiral of actions that resulted in Bhattacharya being involuntarily committed to the psych ward at UVa hospital, being banned from the Grounds of the university, and being expelled from medical school.

But it is not nearly that simple, my conservative friends. Continue reading

What’s With All the TJ Haters?

Click for more legible image.

I was pleased to have an opportunity this morning to discuss the swelling anti-Thomas Jefferson sentiment in contemporary culture on The John Reid show on WRVA. In particular, I criticized the University of Virginia Alumni Association for turning down an ad from The Jefferson Council (on whose board I serve) that defended Jefferson’s reputation for opposing slavery and questioned the widespread assertion that he raped his slave Sally Hemings. Listen to the interview here. Thanks for giving us a voice, John!

While I’m at it, let me put in a plug for John’s morning broadcast. John is a critical player in Virginia’s small but vocal conservative media ecosystem. Click here to view the list of news makers he has interviewed in the past few days.

Update: Charlottesville talk radio host Joe Thomas interviewed Jefferson Council board member Buddy Weber on the controversy. Lissten to the podcast here.

Update: Shaun Kenney at The Republican Standard uses the ad controversy as a jumping-off point to broader discussion of how Thomas Jefferson and other historical figures are treated today. Kenney leans to the view that Jefferson was the father of Hemings’ children, but he does not treat the interpretation as settled dogma.

Writes Kenney: “Much as there is no such thing as unquestionable science, there should be no such thing as unquestionable history. Reproducibility and replication based on record and evidence remains the gold standard.”


A Letter to an Old Friend

by James C. Sherlock

This article is rendered as a letter responding to an old friend and mentor, the University of Virginia, my alma mater.

I can imagine the University’s response to my last article on its culture:

The changes we have experienced in the culture of the University, its pervasive progressivism, which some may see as toxic to a public university, are not unique to the University of Virginia, have been decades in the making and will be very difficult to change from within.

I note the pessimism, but do not share the conclusion. Change it must, and we must not shelter in place and hope it blows over.

I firmly believe that the University will not survive as a public institution, and will not deserve to survive, with a leadership structure monitored by a political Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) commissariat that tolerates no dissent from progressive orthodoxy.

I don’t believe it will survive hiring practices that render the faculty politically single-minded.

I don’t believe it will survive a student experience that has driven large majorities of students to respond to surveys that they feel afraid to engage in debate on topics related to progressive dogma.

How can we honestly say we promote diversity, but not diversity of thought?
Continue reading

Jefferson and Madison Legacies Debated in Library Hearing

The Jefferson-Madison Library in Charlottesville. Photo credit: NBC29.

by Ann McLean

From the first comment of “Don’t burn our past!” a June 27th public hearing to discuss striking the names of the two Founding Fathers from the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library turned into verbal fireworks.

Two camps quickly formed. The first five speakers defended Mr. Jefferson, who most realize needs no defense given his revolutionary proclamation that “all men are created equal,” endowed by God with the inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This clarion call inspired freedom throughout the Western world and now around the globe.

“It was Jefferson who pushed to free all people,” said one speaker.

“Mr. Jefferson loved books,” said another. “His books began this library in 1823.”

Yet another noted, “The enemies of Jefferson may not realize it, but they would have no rights at all if Jefferson’s ideas were discarded, as they have been time and time again in world history by regimes led by people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and now Putin. Jefferson’s ideas were truly inspired by God.” Continue reading

Your Alumni Association Dollars at Work

by James A. Bacon

Above is an ad that The Jefferson Council submitted to run in the University of Virginia Alumni Society publication, Virginia. Before I tell you the fate that befell this ad, please take a moment to read it, and then ask yourself: is there anything political about it? Is there anything contentious about it? Is there anything inaccurate about it?

Sure, you might disagree with the thrust of the ad. Maybe you think, as many people at UVa do, that Jefferson deserves to be remembered in history as a slave-holding rapist. But, really, do you find anything objectionable about the facts, the quotes or the tenor of the presentation?

Now, you might think that the association representing the alumni of the university that Jefferson founded might be willing to publish a paid ad defending his reputation. And you would be wrong. Continue reading

The Stakes are High in Reform of Higher Education

by James C. Sherlock

I exposed in detail yesterday the ironclad control of the University of Virginia by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy at that school.

Maoist-like insistence on radical progressive ideological purity is overseen there by the Red Guards of DEI in every school in the university. To claim otherwise is to insult them and their publicly expressed cause.

The Washington Post yesterday ran a relatively balanced article on Florida’s plans to remake its state institutions of higher education to restore academic freedom and viewpoint diversity. It is The Washington Post — it led with the positions of the left — but got around to the positions of conservatives more quickly than usual.

DeSantis has said he wants to prevent the state’s colleges and universities … from developing “intellectually repressive environments.”

For a fully developed intellectually repressive environment he should see the University of Virginia.

In Florida and nationally, the screams and rending of garments from the left have been as predictable as the sunrise. Continue reading

A Mean-Spirited Amendment

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The 2021 General Assembly passed legislation that made students who fall into the “DACA” category (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), sometimes called the “Dreamers,” eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia institutions of higher education.

To be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of citizenship or immigration status, an applying student must have:

  1. Attended high school in Virginia for at least two years;
  2. Graduated from high school on or after July 1, 2008; and
  3. Filed Virginia income tax returns ( by the student or parents) for at least two years prior to the college application date.

Out of the funding provided for financial aid to students in higher education institutions in the budget bill it adopted, the General Assembly earmarked $5 million each year for DACA students.

Governor Youngkin submitted a budget amendment that “redirected” that funding to financial assistance for students attending Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Those institutions would be Virginia State in Petersburg and Norfolk State in Norfolk. Continue reading

A More Politically Diverse Board for VMI

by James A. Bacon

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s board-of-visitors appointments to the University of Virginia and the Virginia Community College System are bound to shake up the status quo, as Bacon’s Rebellion has documented in earlier posts today. His designation of four new members to the Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors could generate controversy as well.

The outgoing VMI board is the one that presided when former Governor Ralph Northam evicted former Superintendent J.H. Binford Peay III, replaced him with the current Superintendent, Cedric Wins, stood silent (or expressed support) when The Washington Post and a Northam-appointed investigation maligned the military academy as systemically racist, and approved a series of measures to undo the alleged racism.

The big question is this: How hard will new board members fight to preserve what dissident alumni refer to as threats to core VMI institutions such as the Honor Code and the Rat Line? The answer to that question may hinge on whether the Wins administration is actually implementing policies hostile to free expression and bedrock values.

The appointees include: Continue reading

UVa Board Meetings Should Get a Lot More Interesting

Bert Ellis

by James A. Bacon

Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced his appointments to the boards of visitors of Virginia’s colleges and universities, at least one of which has the potential to be highly consequential — Bert Ellis, a serial entrepreneur and major donor, at the University of Virginia.

Ellis has been a prominent critic of UVa’s leftward drift under President Jim Ryan. He is president of The Jefferson Council, an alumni organization formed a year and a half ago to preserve free speech, promote intellectual diversity, protect the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, and preserve the dignity of the Jefferson-designed “academical village” centered on the Rotunda and Lawn. (Full disclosure: I am vice president-communications of The Jefferson Council.)

The current board has provided little pushback to Ryan’s policies. Rector Whitt Clement has worked behind the scenes to blunt the worst excesses, but he avoids confrontation. His personal style is to be a conciliator. He has achieved some success on free-speech issues, but has been powerless to halt more fundamental changes in university culture.

In an update to Jefferson Council members in December, Ellis noted approvingly that Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares were are all interested in “re-focusing UVA and other colleges and K-12 schools in Virginia on educating students and not brainwashing them with the Woke/CRT/DEI mantras that have overtaken UVA and almost all other colleges and K-12 schools in Virginia and across our country.” Continue reading

Hey, Where Did All the White Supremacists Go?

by James A. Bacon

If you believe the political/pundit class, Glenn Youngkin rode the path to the governorship on the back of a White backlash against his predecessor’s efforts to rectify the last 400 years of wrongs against minorities. All the while last year, the experts warned of the looming threat of White supremacists against Blacks, Jews and Asians, gays and other persecuted groups.

A funny thing happened, though. It turns out that the year in which Virginians elected Youngkin governor saw a dramatic decline in the incidence of hate crimes.

According to the 2021 Crime in Virginia report issued this morning, police departments across the Commonwealth reported only 123 hate crimes, down 35% from the previous year. The number of hate crimes against Blacks fell to 44, the second lowest number since the numbers were first published in the current format in 2000. The number against Jews fell to four, the lowest ever recorded. And the number against Asians — remember how the media and former Attorney General Mark Herring hyped a supposed wave of anti-Asian hate crimes? — fell to three, also the lowest number ever. Continue reading

Youngkin Appointees Can Expect the Queally Treatment

Paul Queally in happier days, 2018, when the announcement was made that UR would build the Queally Athletics Center. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

Any day now, Governor Glenn Youngkin will announce his appointments to the boards of Virginia’s public colleges and universities. He has used his bully pulpit to urge governing boards to suppress hikes in tuition and fees, and he has called upon administrators to preserve free speech and promote intellectual diversity. In private conversations, he has indicated that he will appoint like-minded individuals to support those priorities.

Few members of the Youngkin cohort, I expect, have any idea of what they’ll be up against. The culture of militant leftism is so deeply entrenched in higher education that they will face furious opposition if they dare advocate substantive changes.

As a cautionary tale, Youngkin appointees might consider the experience of Paul Queally, the head of the University of Richmond Board of Trustees, who will step down from his position Thursday at the conclusion of his term. The situation is not identical — UR is a private university run by a self-perpetuating fraternity; new trustees are nominated and elected by existing trustees — while Youngkin over the course of his term will be able to replace the entire board of every public university (just as former Governor Ralph Northam did before him). But many of the political dynamics unique to higher-ed will be similar. Continue reading

No Rest Even for the Dead

The American culture wars have moved way beyond the removal of statues of prominent Confederate statues from visible public places like Richmond’s Monument Avenue or any number of county courthouses. The wars have morphed into a cultural cleansing designed to obliterate symbols and traditions that have great meaning to a large segment of the population. Here’s an update from Washington & Lee University from Thomas P. Rideout, class of 1963, on the ongoing battle over the Lee Sanctuary. — JAB

For those of you not aware, Washington and Lee plans to build a permanent wall in Lee Chapel which will forever separate the Valentine recumbent statue gravesite of Robert E. Lee from the sanctuary seating and stage area in Lee Chapel. This is all to appease persons uncomfortable with the sight of Lee in final repose when they enter the Chapel. Alternative locations for mandatory attendance are or can be made available on campus. Washington and Lee is throwing out respect, honor, and basic public access to the Lee story, which has been a part of Washington and Lee and Lexington history for decades. Continue reading

The Rest of the Story: Other TJ Amicus Briefs

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Asra Q. Nomani recently posted an article listing several organizations that had filed amicus curiae briefs in the case before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in which the Fairfax County School Board is appealing a district court’s ruling that the new admissions process for the Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology is unconstitutional.

Lest readers of Bacon’s Rebellion get the impression that the School Board is out there all alone in its appeal, I thought a little balance was needed in this discussion. A look at the case file reveals a long list of amici filed on behalf of the school board. In addition to briefs from the United States, fifteen state governments, and several civil rights organizations, e.g. NAACP Legal Defense Fund and ACLU, there are three that are especially worth highlighting:

Asian American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development for Youth and Families — “supports low-income and underserved Asian-Pacific American youth with educational empowerment.” Continue reading

Is Virginia’s Lab School Law Constitutional?

by James C. Sherlock

The Governor and General Assembly may wish to look at Virginia’s new laboratory schools law in light of the Supreme Court’s June 21, 2022 Carson v. Makin (Carson) decision

Held: Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments violates the Free Exercise Clause.

The facts of Carson, in which Maine spent state money to fund students to attend private schools but not religious ones, seem to align generally with the facts of the establishment of laboratory schools under Virginia law.

Code of Virginia § 22.1-349.1. Definitions; objectives.

“College partnership laboratory school” means a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious school in the Commonwealth established by a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education that operates a teacher education program approved by the Board. (Emphasis added)

That definition may be found to make the same constitutional error that the Supreme Court found in the Maine law on tuition assistance.  Continue reading