by James A. Bacon
I don’t know what the Virginia Military Institute racism investigation ordered by Governor Ralph Northam will reveal. Perhaps it will turn up evidence that racism is as “relentless” as The Washington Post says it is. In the meantime, though, I can’t quite decide if it is hilarious or vomit-inducing to watch the Post and its intrepid reporter Ian Shapira shoehorning facts to fit its racism narrative. The harder the WaPo spins, the less inclined I am to believe a single word.
Here’s the the headline from an article published three days ago: “VMI commandant to retire as racial reckoning continues.”
It seems that Commandant William “Bill” Wanovich, who oversees military training for VMI’s 1,700 cadets, is retiring at the end of the academic year. Shapira frames his departure in the context of the investigation into what Northam called — on the basis of previous WaPo articles — the school’s “clear and appalling cultural of ongoing structural racism.” Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Virginia Republicans, divided between populist cultural conservatives and traditional free market/small government conservatives, may well immolate themselves when it comes time to select candidates for statewide office. I proffer no predictions. But, should the GOP find some way to maintain a facade of unity, there is one very promising sign for the future: The party is attracting candidates from beyond its traditional white racial/ethnic base.
The Bull Elephant, a partisan Republican blog, lists 10 declared or talked-about candidates for governor, five for lieutenant governor, and five for attorney general. The seven minority candidates include:
Sergio de la Peña, a retired Army colonel and Trump administration appointee to the Pentagon. The 65-year-old de la Peña, whose Mexican family moved to the U.S. legally, says he learned English and assimilated. As a candidate for governor, he supports making English the state’s official language and would end benefits for illegals. He supports funding law enforcement, prosecuting looters and rioters, and the right to bear arms. On jobs, says his website, “Sergio will restart the economy by creating an open and competitive economic environment.” Continue reading
President Biden. Credit: deadline.com
by James C. Sherlock
The Left won control of government in the most recent elections nationally and in Virginia. Elections indeed have consequences.
The focus on race instead of class by the newly victorious left will have major consequences here.
A combination of (1) Biden policies requiring antiracism training for federal workers and contractors; and (2) state requirements for biannual antiracism training for teachers and rewriting of syllabi to achieve antiracism together will be felt more heavily in Virginia, especially dark blue Northern Virginia, than anywhere else in the nation.
Virginia, because of its massive concentration of federal workers and contractors in Northern Virginia and military and contractors in Hampton Roads, will be the state most heavily effected by the new Biden administration policies.
Virginia’s education system is already in the midst of an antiracism transformation at the hands of the Governor, the General Assembly, the Department of Education, left-leaning school boards in districts like Albemarle County and left-wing schools of education in Virginia such as those of UVa and VCU.
I am going to use this essay primarily to offer commentary from the Left on what this means and whether it will work. Continue reading
Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun
by James A. Bacon
Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun, has introduced HB 1980, a bill that would establish the Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship Program. Beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year, five public Virginia universities each would provide scholarships to at least one African-American Virginian student born in the Commonwealth sufficient to cover tuition, fees, room, board, books, other educational supplies, and even tutoring — a full ride.
To qualify, the student could come from a household earning up to four times the federal poverty guidelines (roughly $70,400 in 2020 for a family with a single parent and single child). The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) for Virginia would implement the program in collaboration with the institutions and report periodically to the General Assembly. Continue reading
The Martinsville Seven
By Peter Galuszka
Governor Ralph Northam will propose legislation to ban executions in the state. The move could end decades of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.
“I’ve strongly about this for a long time,” he was quoted as saying. The bill will be taken up by the General Assembly, which met in its 2021 session today.
If the bill passes, it would make Virginia the only Southern state to ban executions.
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, 113 executions have been conducted in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. Virginia’s vigorous efforts to kill those convicted of capital crimes gave it the dishonorable distinction of being No. 2 in the country after Texas which had 570 executions in that time frame.
Historically, African Americans have been executed at rates that exceed their numbers in the general population. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
A guiding premise of the Northam administration’s education policy is that Virginia’s system of public education is guilty of systemic racism. Informed by social-justice sensibilities, Northam hopes to close the achievement gap between racial/ethnic groups by making the school curriculum more “culturally relevant” for minority students, training teachers in culturally relevant instruction, recruiting more teachers of color, and presenting a more “inclusive” version of American history.
I have long argued that most of these supposed remedies will accomplish little to close the achievement gap, that, in fact, they might do actual harm. The ideas Northam is implementing have been incubating for years. Thomas Sowell was writing about them in his 2006 book, “Black Rednecks and White Liberals.” Sowell’s arguments are every bit as relevant today as they were 15 years ago, perhaps even more so.
Sowell’s book is so rich that it is impossible for me to do it justice in a brief column, but I will try to hit the highlights as they apply to the debate over K-12 education in Virginia today.
The foundational thesis of the book is encapsulated in the title phrase “black rednecks.” Sowell, who has written extensively about minorities around the world from Jews and overseas Chinese to Armenians and Volga Germans, believes that an ethnic groups’ cultures persist over long periods of time and cultural traits shape how the groups respond to the challenges confronting them. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
Bacon’s Rebellion has been filled with many thumbsuckers about how “Critical Race Theory” is an existential threat to Western Civilization.
But now there is a new theory of concern that makes the racial considerations seem, well, so 2020.
It is called “Critical Lizard Theory” and it actually exists.
According to NBC News, investigators are probing possible links between Nashville suicide bomber Anthony Quinn Warner and the conspiracy idea that many prominent people in the world such as Queen Elizabeth, the Clintons, Barack Obama, Madonna, Paul McCartney and even Bob Hope are or were lizard-like aliens who arrived on Earth and assumed human characteristics.
There seems to be evidence that Warner made trips to an undisclosed spot in Tennessee to check into aliens, NBC reports. Warner is believed to have constructed a bomb at his suburban Nashville home and placed it in a recreational vehicle before setting it off in the city’s downtown. Continue reading
by James C. Sherlock
I read an op-ed by Scott Johnston this morning in the Wall Street Journal: “Revolution Consumes New York’s Elite Dalton School.” The subtitle was “Teachers of $54,000 Zoom classes demand a lowering of standards and hiring of a dozen diversity staffers.“ It is very much worth a read. Told of an eight-page list of demands by most of the faculty and staff of the Dalton School, a hyper-expensive Upper East Side school. One of its insights was:
“It is telling that the manifesto begins with a quote from a Marxist professor named Robin Kelley, someone who professes admiration for Trotsky’s “permanent revolution.” Should the Dalton administration give in to every last demand, there will be a new list tomorrow. The goal posts move quickly in this racket.”
It reminded me that there is a secret about the race industry that corporations, government agencies, universities and school systems must understand. Most of them actually do understand but either support Critical Race Theory or seek what they think is the path of least resistance whose costs can be contained with other people’s money. Those in the “least resistance” camp are fools.
The race industry in America is in the grievance business, a very large and profitable enterprise. It is self-justifying, necessary because it says — loudly and backed with a combination of shaming and threats — it is. It is expanding daily and providing six-figure jobs for people who learned nothing positive, creative or otherwise useful in college, only grievance. Continue reading
Judge David Bernhard
by Hans Bader
A judge in Virginia’s Fairfax County has ruled that portraits of white judges must be removed from a courtroom to protect a black criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial. The idea that white people are so scary or racially offensive that just seeing them deprives minorities of a fair trial would have been viewed as laughably racist even a few years ago. But in today’s bizarre political climate, this idea is viewed as progressive. So the judge’s ruling was applauded by the liberal media.
Judge David Bernhard ruled that the white portraits had to be banished, in Commonwealth v. Shipp. As he put it, “The Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair jury trial stands paramount over the countervailing interest of adorning courtrooms with portraits that honor past jurists,” because those portraits were “overwhelmingly of white individuals.” Since 45 of the 47 judges were white, he viewed their portraits as “symbols” that black people are “of lesser standing.” Continue reading
by Peter Galuszka
Two recent blog posts critical of The Washington Post and The New York Times are way out of line.
They assume that two leading newspapers have a definite agenda on race.
Jim Bacon goes after the Post for reporting about the bad experiences a Black student, Rafael Jenkins, endured during ‘”Rat Week” hazing at the Virginia Military Institute.
When Jenkins was reluctant to recite the names of 10 VMI graduates who died while fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, a senior cadet screamed at him that he’d be lynched and his body would be used as a punching bag.
Jenkins, who had been suspected of cheating during his ACT entry exam, was accused of cheating on a test at VMI. He was convicted of what seems largely circumstantial evidence and left the school. The Post piece lays this all out.
Is this a story? Of course it is. Black alumni have made vigorous calls to investigate systemic racism at the state-supported school. The president has resigned. Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered a probe of what is going on.
This blog skirts these issues by claiming there is no racism and not questioning why Virginia taxpayers are footing the bill for such behavior. Why pay for such ridiculous hazing? If the state wants a Parris Island, then erect one. It is so odd that conservative VMI gets a pass while the more liberal University of Virginia is the devil incarnate. Continue reading
Rapper Jay Z
by James C. Sherlock
You know how some things play out exactly as you expect and you still can’t figure out why they happen? Such a thing happened to me this morning when I opened the New York Times.
On the front page was an article that was a rehash of reporting that had been done in Virginia and Tennessee newspapers in early June of this year.
It was, of course, about racism (or close enough for the Times). In Leesburg, Virginia. Nearly five years ago. By a then newly 15 year-old girl. Who sent a three-second video to her girlfriend on which she celebrated getting her learner’s permit by saying “I can drive, N—–“. In which she was imitating the language used on the rap music that dominated her and her friends’ play lists.
Mr. Daniel Levin writes about how that incident got blown up on the internet and ruined a young girl’s life.
If it did not when the story was originally published, Mr. Levin and his editors have assured it. The story has gone national, six months after it was first reported, complete with the young girl’s name and picture, part of “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” Sunday front page version. Continue reading
VMI Ratline. Credit: Beth Dooley Williams Instagram account
by James A. Bacon
Sigh. I am weary of writing about race in Virginia, I really am. But the Washington Post never tires and never rests. America-as-endemically-racist nation has become a dominant narrative of 2020 and the newspaper’s enthusiasm for stories alleging racism everywhere (but itself) shows no sign of abating. This is profoundly discouraging for anyone who, like I do, sees America as a flawed but fundamentally good and decent nation. So, 0nce again, I take to my keyboard to engage in some critical analysis.
This morning the Post devotes a third of its front page and two full inside pages to an article about Rafael Jenkins, a freshman who was subjected to a racist taunt during Hell Week at the Virginia Military Institute and then, months later, was expelled for an alleged honor violation. My problem is not the reporting that went into the story but how staff writer Ian Shapira and his editors framed the facts and the sweeping conclusions they drew from them.
Here’s the headline in the print edition: “A lynching threat, a cheating charge. A black cadet at the Virginia Military Institute was subjected to racism during his initiation. Later, it was his integrity that the schools questioned when it placed him under investigation.”
The headline in the online edition puts it even more baldly: “A Black VMI cadet was threatened with a lynching, then with expulsion.”
Polish up that Pulitzer. It looks like The Washington Post is vying again for the big prize in journalism. Continue reading
Mark-Paul Gosselaar (left) and Alexis Bledel.
by James A. Bacon
America’s media and cultural elites are increasingly obsessed with race and ethnicity, viewing every public policy issue through a racial prism. But the American people aren’t cooperating. In their real-world behavior, race and ethnicity are becoming less important. The distinction between “whites” and “Hispanics,” never clear to begin with, is steadily eroding. Meanwhile, the increase of intermarriage between all racial/ethnic groups has given rise to a category of people, numbering in the millions, who identify as members of two (sometimes more) races.
Those are the thoughts that come to mind as I read Hamilton Lombard’s latest contribution to the StatChat blog about the misleading narrative of a disappearing white majority.
As Lombard writes, media headlines have touted a population tipping point in which the “white” majority of Americans will be overtaken numerically by minorities of other races and ethnicities. This narrative, I would add, has fed the fears of white supremacists who vow they will not be “replaced” as well as the aspirations of leftist politicians who believe they can ride minority grievances to power. Continue reading
Prince William Supervisor Pete Candland
by James A. Bacon
First comes bias training, then comes anti-bias enforcement. Can the thought police be far behind?
In Prince William County last week, three Republican members of the Board of Supervisors walked out of a presentation, “Raising Awareness of Unconscious Bias to Foster Inclusivity and Equity,” at a joint meeting of the supervisors and county school board.
Supervisor Pete Candland said he found “insulting” a presentation that insinuated that board members held racial biases. Furthermore, he said the issue was a distraction from the pressing issue of how best to educate children during the COVID-19 epidemic. “During this critical time of the global pandemic, kids having issues at home, concerns about funding our schools moving forward, they decided to take this time to talk about Implicit Bias Critical Race Theory.”
“I felt that it was important to walk out and not just sit there, because I refuse to legitimize this notion that we are all somehow racist,” concurred Supervisor Yesli Vega, as reported by Bristow Beat. Continue reading
Standards of Learning (SOL) pass rate for economics, 2017-18. Source: Virginia Department of Education
by James A. Bacon
The Northam administration’s education equity initiative declares that “equity” will have been achieved when outcomes can no longer be predicted on the basis of race, gender, zip code, ability, socioeconomic status or languages spoken at home. The administration does not acknowledge it, but there is a region of Virginia that has largely achieved educational equity — the last place in Virginia that the anti-racist progressives running the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) would look. But the evidence is right there in its so-called “road map to equity,” “Navigating EdEquityVa.”
I am, of course, referring to far Southwest Virginia, which is, electorally speaking, the reddest region of the state — the religious, culturally conservative, gun-clinging, Trump-voting economic backwater of Appalachia.
In this post I replicate several maps taken from the EdEquity manifesto. The maps are tiny in the VDOE document, so they become blurred when I blow them up to a size where they can be interpreted. While the graphics are fuzzy, the conclusion is crystal clear. Students in Southwest Virginia school systems, among the poorest in the state, pass at higher rates than any other region of Virginia. That holds true not just for demographically dominant whites, but African Americans, Hispanics, the economically disadvantaged, English learners and students with disabilities. Continue reading