Category Archives: Freedom

Virginia Republicans Should Run in the Fall on the Virginia Senate Silencing of Suparna Dutta

Suparna Dutta – Courtesy

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia Republicans, not noted for organization, common approaches or dexterity, have been granted a gift by Democrats if they will accept it.

The Democratic majority in the General Assembly rejected the appointment of Suparna Dutta, a mother, engineer and an immigrant from India, to the Board of Education.

This happened because Senate Democrats, stalwarts of the left flank of the culture wars, were badgered and finally whipped into a unanimous vote against Ms. Dutta by a strange but tight-knit political relationship between leftists and Muslim activists centered in Northern Virginia.

Leftists, led by Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers outpost, Virginia Educators United, considered Ms. Dutta too patriotic. And anti-socialist.

The Muslim cabal, led by the Virginia Council of Muslim Organizations and Gov. Northam’s notorious (too many Asians) Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, considered her, well, too Hindu.

The Virginia Council of Muslim Organizations, vocal in support of freedom of speech for the highly controversial Abrar Omeish, does not offer the same to Ms. Dutta.

Her offense? She had been in a board meeting with Anne Holton, the wife of Sen. Tim Kaine. They were discussing the K-12 History Standards of Learning.

Ms. Holton said that she was “not comfortable” with calling the Constitution and the Declaration remarkable documents without qualifiers. And she defended strong central government planning and socialism as compatible with democracy and freedom.

Ms. Dutta debated her on those points.

That led, as such things do in modern America, to Ms. Dutta being called a “white supremacist” by progressives.

And officially designated as one by the unanimous vote of General Assembly Senate Democrats. Continue reading

Virginia is the Future

by Arthur Bloom

I want to tell you why I like The 1619 Project. It has nothing to do with the history, all of which is known to any well-educated Virginian. Of course, these things are fundamentally propagandistic exercises, any leftist worth his salt would tell you that too. But it was symbolically very important. Here’s what it did: The New York Times shifted the locus and timeline of the American Founding from Plymouth Bay to Virginia, where it belongs.

It’s a common gripe of Virginians that when most Americans today think of the Founding, they tend to think of pilgrims in black-and-white, with buckles on their shoes, even though we were there first. The 1619 Project is helping to rectify this situation. I’m holding out for a 1607 Project. Give it time, the actual Jamestown fort wasn’t even rediscovered until around 25 years ago.

The New York Times was engaged in some powerful voodoo, not to be trifled with — if you look at everything through the lens of race you won’t see it — but it’s very real. Catholic education molded Nikole Hannah-Jones, and she went on to strike a hammer blow against Yankee cultural power. The Empire of Guadalupe rises.

This was necessary, because if the affirmative action lawsuit at Harvard is successful, Harvard will become even more Chinese, and its prestige will fall. Our people won’t go there anymore. That’s why I’m rooting for Conservative, Inc.’s devious plan to turn Harvard into a Chinese enclave, it’ll be the greatest thing they’ve ever done. These two things are mortal blows to the cultural prestige of Massachusetts. And as Massachusetts falls, Virginia rises.
Continue reading

Virginia Republicans, in Need of a Public Education Strategy for the Fall Elections, Should look to Florida

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia still supports in law the pillars of the progressive takeover of public K-12 and higher education.

Our elected Democrats, having made those laws even crazier in 2020 and 2021, resist any efforts to change them even at the margins.

Mystifyingly, Virginia Republicans seem not to have a public education strategy for the fall elections.

They need to look south.

The Washington Post reports that the legislature of the state of Florida, having already proscribed in law some of the more radical progressive educational dogma, is now taking down the pillars of that control in both K-12 and higher education.

It will consider various bills:

  • requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex as opposed to a gender construct;
  • changing the current Florida law that offers school choice funding subject to income limitations to make it a universally available program;
  • eliminating college majors in gender studies;
  • banning spending on DEI administrative positions and programs not required by federal law;
  • requiring post-tenure reviews at prescribed intervals to evaluate an individual’s continuing contributions to scholarship;
  • strengthening parents’ ability to veto K-12 class materials;
  • extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality — from third grade up to eighth grade.

I would have to see the final language of any of the bills to determine my personal support, and am unlikely to back all of them either personally or for Virginia.

But the strategy is right.

They attack the foundations of the progressive strangleholds on public K-12 and higher education. Continue reading

Unconstitutional Viewpoint Discrimination in Virginia K-12 Teacher Evaluation Standards

Daniel Gecker Esq., President of the Virginia Board of Education. Appointed to the Board of Education by Governor Terry McAuliffe and reappointed to a four year term by Governor Ralph Northam. Date of expiration of appointment – June 30, 2023

by James C. Sherlock

Progressives, in the fullness of their dogma, oppose the entire Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights is specifically structured to limit the powers of government, which progressives find not only unsuitable, but unimaginable.

In the Golden Age of Progressivism in Virginia, 2020 and 2021, they controlled the governor’s mansion, the General Assembly, the Attorney General’s Office and all of the state agencies.

With total control, they took flight.

They have always known what seldom occurs to conservatives not prone to offend the Bill of Rights.

With total control of state government, progressives can enact and have enacted laws, regulations and policies that violate both the federal and state constitutions.

They know it will take a decade or more for courts to push back. Meanwhile they can call opponents “haters.”

After which the worst that can happen is that nobody is held accountable. Except the taxpayers.

I just exposed unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in the University of Virginia’s hiring process. that was implemented starting in 2020.

The same fertile progressive imagination is also present in the Board of Education’s new (in 2021) Standard 6. “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Equitable Practices performance indicators” (starting on page xv) in “Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers(Guidelines). Continue reading

Viewpoint Discrimination in Hiring at UVa – “Presumptively Unconstitutional”

University of Virginia Counsel James Iler

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Virginia engages today in in-your-face viewpoint discrimination in hiring.

The counterfactually named University of Virginia Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) declares itself responsible for:

Recruitment and Hiring: facilitating and monitoring faculty and staff recruitment and hiring and training faculty and staff regarding applicable laws and best practices for search and hiring processes.


EOCR has turned viewpoint discrimination into a science by considering contributions to inclusive excellence” in hiring. Do yourself a favor. Open that page and click to open each section.

EOCR helpfully offers hiring officials and search committees phrases as “examples of what could be added” to job applications at UVa.

[Faculty] Candidates should also describe how their courses, research, and/or service have helped, or will help, students to develop intercultural competencies or otherwise advance excellence through diversity, equity, and inclusion within the institution.

Those requirements are not viewpoint-neutral because diversity, equity and inclusion as practiced at the University of Virginia are not viewpoint-neutral. The  UVa DEI bureaucracy, including EOCR,  is authoritarian, and proud of it.

EOCR actively tries to screen out applicants who may disagree with the University’s thought police approach to DEI. In that pursuit, they don’t just require commitment to DEI going forward.

The applicant must demonstrate previous activity.

That makes UVa a government DEI spoils/patronage system, defined as a practice to reward active supporters by appointment to government posts.

If only the University had a legal department. Continue reading

For Your Consideration: An Intellectual Freedom Protection Act

by James C. Sherlock

I offer for your consideration the text of a draft Intellectual Freedom Protection Act proposed this morning by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE).

FIRE is the leading American voice supporting academic freedom, free speech and due process. In doing so they defend democracy itself.

They are what the ACLU was before that organization abandoned the field as an impartial supporter of civil liberties to pick a side.

FIRE defends left and right equally.

I have below eliminated the preamble of the draft law for brevity. Lawyers can find the legal precedents referenced in the preamble here. Continue reading

The Players and the Dispute in the High Level Cage Match at UVa – Can a Racism Charge be Far Behind?

By James C. Sherlock

Loren Lomasky,
Cory Professor of Political Philosophy, Policy & Law.       Courtesy UVa.

I read yesterday morning on BR Tragedies in Charlottesville” by UVa professor Loren Lomasky, who wrote:

It is reasonable to judge that in either the longer or shorter version of the history of the university, no single individual has done it as grievous a harm as the man who now serves as its chief academic officer.

Among the few propositions on which Loren Lomasky and provost Ian Baucom agree is that the University of Virginia would be better off with exactly one of them gone.

Wow! Cage match!

I guess you could say that Dr. Lomasky has had enough.

He opposes, obviously strongly, Provost Baucom’s strange intervention into academics school-wide after the November shooting of three young men at the University.

We also suspect the fight might reflect the history between the two men. Baucom was Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences during most of Professor Lomasky’s tenure there.

Libertarians like Dr. Lomasky seek, in his case as a career, to minimize encroachments on and violations of individual liberties and to maximize personal autonomy and political freedom.

They are believers in personal agency and taking responsibility for ones actions. They insist on academic freedom.

Nice to see the professor, who advocates all of that, call out the University of Virginia leadership in the person of provost Ian Baucom, who emphatically does not advocate any of it.

Not a word about that story yet that I can find in the mainstream media that cover Virginia.  Fair enough.  Perhaps we will see it tomorrow.

Nothing in The Cavalier Daily yet, which does,however, offer a riveting story pressing for free menstrual products in the dorms.

But Professor Lomasky also called out the DEI bureaucracy at UVa in the strongest terms.

I have no doubt that they have opened a “case.” (Update.  I understand that Prof. Lomasky has been the subject of at least three investigations by the EOCR division of DEI).

Continue reading

Have Virginia Republican Elected Officials Given Up on Charter Schools?

by James C. Sherlock

Two things we know:

  1.  There is absolutely no question that charter schools run by successful charter management organizations (CMOS) are proven to be the most efficient and effective American public schools in instructing poor urban kids.
  2. There is also no question that many Democratic politicians, having eliminated any doubt about their hierarchy of values, have thrown those kids off the lifeboat in favor of the teachers’ unions.

But where, exactly, are Virginia Republican elected officials on this issue?

The only school choice bill I have seen from Republicans introduced in the General Assembly this session, education savings accounts, does not appear to help poor kids at all.

What is the thinking there?

If Democrats representing those districts — and they are all Democrats — are going to vote against their own kids in deference to the teachers’ unions (and they have in the past) why bother?

If that is it, I urge Republican elected officials to re-think this. Continue reading

In Search of the Fountainhead of Religious Freedom in Virginia

by James Wyatt Whitehead, V

A recent trip to study the Civil War battlefield of Fredericksburg brought me to stately Washington Avenue in one of Virginia’s most historic cities. The street is adorned with grand Victorian mansions and Kenmore, the colonial home of Fielding and Betty Lewis (George Washington’s sister). Here stands a statue to Patriot Hugh Mercer, the famed officer who led the Continentals to victory at the Battle of Princeton and died from wounds received in battle.

Not far away stands a stone monument bearing bronze plaques memorializing the January 1777 meeting of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, George Mason, George Wythe, and Thomas Ludwell Lee to draft the Bill Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia. I have traveled this street many times, and I knew of this famed meeting of luminary patriots, but I had never noticed this modest yet important memorial.

I couldn’t help but wonder: Had I stumbled onto the very fountainhead of religious freedom in Virginia? A brief search on my cell phone revealed that this memorial dated back to 1932. No fountain here, but I was close, for the memorial had originally been installed on George Street near the site of Weedon’s Tavern, where Jefferson and company began their earnest work. It was moved in 1977 to its current, more attractive location.

My journey next brought me to the site of Weedon’s Tavern. The building that stands there today looks like an old A&P Supermarket that is now an antique store. Old Weedon’s Tavern burned in 1807. The establishment was owned by one of Washington’s generals, George Weedon. (I have to assume Washington slept here too.) It is here that members of the Committee of Law Revisors began their task to remake the government of Virginia. Continue reading

Symphonic Tribute

by Jon Baliles

The Richmond Symphony has a long and great history of collaboration and performances that you would not normally think of when you think of Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. But next weekend, get ready to experience two performances that will continue that tradition of unusual marriages of sound that produce magic.

The Richmond Symphony is honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message with two shows that will honor him and inspire you. You can catch the symphony with local musician Butcher Brown on Saturday night at the Carpenter Theatre.

Locally famous and internationally talented, Butcher Brown hears the history of jazz and fuses it with funk, hip-hop, rap, rock, soul…and now with the entire orchestra of the Richmond Symphony. This concert represents a truly innovative venture that adds a new dimension of quality, inclusive music and artistic development for audiences of all ages to enjoy.

This show is going to be an unforgettable and oft-talked-about collaboration.

If you can’t make that show, the Symphony will also be at the Perkinson Center for the Arts in Chester next Sunday, performing with Brown Ballerinas for Change. Their “diverse repertoire features spirituals, hymns and other stirring compositions by black musicians of the past and present.”

If you have not seen the Symphony in a while (or ever), this is a great opportunity to check them out as they expand their boundaries and your mind through your ears.

This piece first appeared on RVA 5×5 and is republished with permission. 

Alumni Free Speech Alliance to Safeguard VMI Campus Free Speech

The Cadet newspaper and The Cadet Foundation were honored, by unanimous acclimation, to become full members of the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA). By this honor, Virginia Military Institute (VMI) cadets, alumni, faculty. and staff at VMI now join a prestigious collection of alumni groups representing Ivy League and other major institutions of higher education across the United States. These include Bucknell, Cornell, Davidson, Harvard, Lafayette, Macalester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford, University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, Washington & Lee, Wofford, and Yale.

Tom Rideout, AFSA co-chairman and president of The Generals Redoubt at Washington & Lee (W&L) University, issued the following statement on behalf of ASFA: “The Alumni Free Speech Association (AFSA) is thrilled to announce that The Cadet Foundation will represent the Virginia Military Institute as its fifteenth group member.

“AFSA was created in October 2021 for two purposes. One was to serve as an umbrella group to gather a strong nucleus of higher education alternative alumni associations with a shared mission of supporting free speech, academic freedom, and viewpoint diversity. It seeks to provide a variety of forums for information exchange and operational methods to pursue them. AFSA is building a tool kit, developing communications channels and content, and acquiring strategic allies to allow its members to pursue these goals on their specific campuses. The association also recognizes that its member groups will have unique collections of campus battles to wage, some with free speech issues and others without. So there exists an embedded goal to provide a place for information sharing on a range of broad problem-solving issues and capabilities. Continue reading

The Commissars of Charlottesville

Leon Trotsky, People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, 1918

by James C. Sherlock

Leon Trotsky, who headed the Red Army from 1917-22, did not trust it.

On 6 April 1918, he wrote in Isvestia:

The military commissar is the direct political agent of Soviet power within the army. His post is of the highest importance. Commissars are appointed from the ranks of exemplary revolutionaries, capable of remaining the embodiments of revolutionary duty at the most critical moments and under the most difficult circumstances…. The military commissar ensures that the army does not become isolated from the Soviet system as a whole and that individual military institutions do not become breeding grounds for conspiracy.

With commissars at every level of the army, they had their own reporting chain independent of the operational chain of command. And punishments both quick and much to be feared.

Progressives, themselves unwilling to entrust the revolution to those who may subvert it, are fond of similar structures.

Witness the broad and deep Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) system at the University of Virginia. Continue reading

Regulations and the Costs of Doing Business in Virginia

Courtesy of Mercatus Center George Mason University

by James C. Sherlock

About the only category I found interesting in the “Top States for Business” rankings by CNBC, other than the progressive metrics that are featured in many of the categories, is “Cost of Doing Business.”

Virginia’s worst score among the six categories of metrics is that one. The methodology used for costs of doing business is defined, but vaguely:

As inflation ravages company balance sheets, we measure the strength of each state’s business tax climate. We also measure wage and utility costs, as well as the cost of office and industrial space. And we consider incentives and tax breaks that states offer to reduce business costs, with special emphasis on incentives targeted toward development in disadvantaged communities.

So, in this category, CNBC is grading government-imposed taxes and incentives as well as market-driven costs.

On the government side, the rating favors lower taxes and higher incentives. The “special emphasis” item may skew the results, but we do not know how much.

Lower taxes are conservative priorities. Government incentives which skew market forces and reward both politically trendy operations and big donors are not. Continue reading

A Gun Owner’s Suggestion for Virginia Gun Laws

By James C. Sherlock

I was a career military man.

I am a conservative and a gun owner. As a younger man, I won competitive awards for marksmanship with both rifle and pistol.

I own a semi-automatic Glock for home protection.  I train regularly and at almost 77 can still hit what I aim at.

With that introduction, I have a couple of suggestions for gun legislation in Virginia that I hope will draw condemnation from both the left and the right so that I know I have it roughly right.

I have four criteria for firearms legislation:

  • changes that can matter to the safety of children and law enforcement officers;
  • changes that can deter criminals from use of a firearm in the commission of a crime;
  • changes that do not disadvantage the average citizen’s possession and use of firearms; and
  • changes that can pass Second Amendment review in federal court.

Those are, as a group, difficult needles to thread simultaneously.  They should be.

This article involves semi-automatic long guns – rifles and shotguns.

Continue reading

George Orwell Call Home

Nina Jankowitz

by James C. Sherlock

This blog, while proudly based in individual research, often offers controversial ideas.

Uniform agreement is not expected. Debate is encouraged. We learn from one another and even occasionally change a few minds on both sides.

Yesterday the Biden administration announced the establishment of a federal “Disinformation Governance Board” in the Department of Homeland Security to “combat online disinformation in the 2022 midterms.”

Seriously. It was disclosed yesterday afternoon by Secretary Mayorkas in his testimony on Capitol Hill.

You will not be shocked to learn that neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times has yet covered the story. I just checked. Yet it represents a bigger threat to our nation than Russia and China. And it lives within the Department of Homeland Security. Continue reading