Connolly: Expel VMI Students Guilty of Racist Conduct, Track Thought Crimes

Rep Gerald Connolly: Expel VMI students guilty of racist conduct. Question: Who decides what’s “racist” — the Washington Post? Photo credit:

by James A. Bacon

Representative Gerald Connolly, D-Va., and other congressional Democrats have written Governor Ralph Northam, calling for the expulsion of students at the Virginia Military Institute who have been found guilty of “racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Citing a Washington Post article that alleged the existence of “relentless racism” at the military institute, the letter from the House Armed Service Committee decried “lynching threats, professors openly reminiscing about the Ku Klux Klan, a campus culture that venerates the Confederacy and little to no disciplinary action by VMI.”

“We are dismayed that racism is tolerated and has been allowed to persist throughout VMI,” says the letter. The congressmen made three requests:

  1. Remove any statues or symbols that memorialize leaders of the Confederacy.
  2. Conduct regular climate surveys of cadets and recent alumni “to gauge the prevalence of racist beliefs, experiences of discrimination, and harassment within the institution.”
  3. Immediately expel “any offending cadet or faculty member who breaches the honor code through racist or discriminatory conduct.”

Northam, who is launching a state investigation into the racism allegations, did not respond directly to the letter, but in comments to the media yesterday said, “We want to make sure that every college and university in Virginia is open, that they’re welcoming, that our students and their families feel comfortable on those premises.”

Warning to the rest of Virginia: Northam, a VMI graduate himself, said that the issue extends beyond VMI. “While VMI is under the spotlight right now, this is something that is statewide, and we’re going to look at all of our colleges and universities and make sure that we really do everything we can to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Bacon’s bottom line: If Connolly’s logic prevails, “racist conduct” will become an offense that warrants expulsion. Connolly advocates the conducting of “climate surveys” to gauge the extent of “racist beliefs.” The unavoidable question is what constitutes “racist beliefs,” and who decides?

Well, the way things work today, the definition of racism is continually mutating, and the media — in particular the Washington Post — seems to be the arbiter these days. This process can be seen in today’s article by the Post’s Ian Shapira, who has dredged the social media for expressions of racism by VMI cadets.

It seems that many cadets who post to Jodel (pronounced Yodel), a social media platform geared to the service academies, are not responding well to accusations that they and VMI are racist. Here is the first post cited by Shapira:

I’m sorry but to the cadets [who] reported to the Washington Post you are the reason we are more divided. You decide to be a professional victim and bitch and complain,” one student posted. “Someone is making a racist joke. GET OVER IT. Comedians can make them. Why can’t I. Everyday in Crozet” — VMI’s dining hall — “black cadet[s] separate yourselves by sitting in the corner of crozet and sometimes acting foolish.

Can you see what’s happening here? The implication is that calling a black person a “professional victim” is not just an unflattering description of their attitude but racist. Asking a black person to “get over” a racist joke is itself racist. Observing that black cadets self-segregate in the dining hall is racist. Shapira confers legitimacy to any complaint lodged by African Americans but imputes racism to anyone who would defend the Institute or criticize the critics.

Shapira cites another such example of a Jodel poster.

To the cadets that drag VMI through the dirt…You misrepresent who we are as a school,” one person posted. “The press takes the words of a few and magnifies it to epic proportions and call[s] it reality. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. I’m not a racist I’m a realist.

Shapira’s implication is that the poster’s statement is racist. This is right out of Critical Race Theory — if a white person denies he’s a racist, that’s just proof that he’s racist.

Jodel posts, says Shapira, often demean VMI athletes, many of whom are black, as “permits.”

One cadet fumed over the weekend at the sight of three Black football players apparently dressed inappropriately. “I can’t correct s—ty black football rats without being racist [f]or targeting them. . . . Guess they can live on knowing [t]he entire corps hates them and their class hates them,” the cadet wrote. “If they were good enough to get into another school for football, they wouldn’t be here.”

Shapira quotes a black cadet as explaining that the term “permits” has become a proxy for the n-word. “White cadets, he said, resent Black students for their Division I scholarships and their ability to skip out on military exercises.”

In other words, it’s racist to perceive favoritism toward black athletes and express resentment of that perceived favoritism. And it’s racist to object to the prevailing standards that make it impossible to gripe about favoritism accorded black football players without being called a racist.

Let me be 100% clear here. I am not defending the sophomoric and offensive language these cadets are using online. Nor am I contesting the idea that it is the obligation of the VMI administration to foster an environment that is welcoming to cadets of all walks of life. Like every public higher-ed institution, VMI must strive to be inclusive.

But I am saying that Shapira is pushing the boundaries of what constitutes racism. Anyone who pushes back against accusation of racism is himself deemed racist. Anyone who expresses views about race with which Shapira disagrees is a racist.

When the Washington Post talks, Virginia Democrats listen. When congressional Democrats urge the expulsion of cadets for racism, for all practical purposes, the Washington Post is defining the terms.

Here is where we’re heading: If you disagree with the progressive, social-justice paradigm of the United States and its institutions as systemically racist, you’re a racist. If you express racist thoughts, you are guilty of racist conduct. If you are guilty of racist conduct, you can be expelled from VMI. Your thought crimes in opposition to the social justice movement will get you expelled. Hello, George Orwell.

That’s just crazy, you say. Things will never go that far. Really? Two years ago, people mocked conservatives when they warned that those who wished to remove the Civil War statues come would after statues of slaveholders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Turns out, we weren’t pessimistic enough. Now the mob is targeting statues of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Social justice zealots know no bounds. In the quest for power, they seek to delegitimize all of our institutions. VMI, with its roots in the ante-bellum South, is low-hanging fruit. But precedents are being set that should terrify us all.

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37 responses to “Connolly: Expel VMI Students Guilty of Racist Conduct, Track Thought Crimes

  1. Gerry has lost his way. He is one of them now. I knew him when he was the Providence District Supervisor. He was a good public servant. Now he is chasing his tail.

    He supported a goofy bill that reverses gains made to get rid of slacking Federal workers and reverse dismissals of slackers now unemployed or working elsewhere.

    Gerry please let someone else do the job now, thank you for your service.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Make sure you wear shoes that can grip.

  3. I might respect Connolly’s position if he hadn’t given our filthy racist Governor a pass. He’s not alone. Wexton, who called for Northam’s resignation, is campaigning with the Governor.

  4. Hasn’t the Defense Department banned decals of Confederate flags on bases? Didn’t Doug Wilder ban Confederate imagery from Virginia Air National Guard aircraft? Did that make him a dangerous advocate for Critical Race Theory? Did he destroy Western Civilization?

    • Didn’t exactly save it, either. I mean, wasn’t that about 30 years ago?

      • Typically, 30 years is record time for destroying any civilization, especially one as pervasive as Western Civilization. Roman Republic took roughly 500 years to destroy itself, hook, line and sinker. We, the baby boomers, only got started in earnest killing America and its republic in late 1960s. We’ve been moving at an accelerating & blistering pace, particularly over the past decade.

        Of course, by now, most of us are so ignorant, we don’t have faintest notion or clue as to what is going on around us.

  5. Good points, Reed

  6. Who to ask about what is racism? Well, who do we ask with regard to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment?

    How does VMI go this many years and apparently no reports of blacks complaining about racism?

    If that’s true – then all of this stuff going on now is made up?

    which is it?

    And yeah, I’d ask that about the time that Northam was there also.

    So.. again… all these years and apparently is was not an issue -until now?

    • Setting aside the discussion of “institutional” or “systemic,” people are people and some of them are jerks. Young adults with s&%$ for brains exist on all college campuses, and the VMI experience has always brought out the worst in those with bullying tendencies, or tribal instincts. I’m sure the Black students have put up with extra crap from the first time one of them was subjected to the Rat Line, and I would be TOTALLY shocked if some Black upperclassman hadn’t been equally “insensitive” to some white student or other along the way, paying it back. You know what rolls downhill….Putting up with abuse is part of the VMI deal.

      I still think what is really going on here is the whole Confederate history and celebration, and what makes VMI the Target of the Week is the Jackson statue, the New Market memorials on post and in the chapel (stained glass window, right), and whatever other references remain to that day (when as I have explained before, my grandfather’s grandfather’s unit broke in the center of the line, and Breckinridge had to send in the cadets against his wishes.) The 30th Virginia Sharpshooters hadn’t really been in combat until that day and did not distinguish themselves.

      I mean, who better than Northam knows the culture? I remain convinced that photo was shot at VMI, not the medical school. Again, drawing on my religious studies, it is the converts who are first to build gibbets and bonfires for the sinners.

      • Well, yes, why isn’t that a problem? I don’t expect cadets at Annapolis to study under a statue of Yomamoto or those at West Point to study under one of Rommel? Hell, West Point has a named plaque for every Revolutionary general save Benedict Arnold.

        Why is Stonewall Jackson different from any other man who waged war against the United States of America? Was he fighting for a good cause? Was his taking up arms against America worth it?

      • So abuse is a learning tool? I like it!

        Insanity is a perfectly rational response to an insane situation.

  7. I hate to double post, but my points are discrete and I’d rather not co-mingle them.

    First, to Connolly, what he’s asking is that VMI live up to its own stated standards; any violation of the Honor Code – as adjudicated by the Honor Council – results in a drumming out.

    Connolly: Institution leadership has stated that “[t]here is no place for racism or discrimination at VMI [and] any allegation of racism or discrimination will be investigated and appropriately punished, if substantiated.” Yet, prior substantiated actions of racism at the institution have been disciplined through suspensions, in direct contradiction to the VMI Honor System that “does not recognize degrees of honor” and states “the sanction for any breach of honor is dismissal.”

    By VMI’s own words there are no degrees of honor and racism has no place on campus. There are substantiated accounts of racism – if there are no degrees of honor and racism has no place there, why were these students afforded the opportunity to return?

    The simple minded answer is that racism is not currently in the Honor Code, which reads simply “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.” VMI then expounds: “The VMI Honor System is a single sanction system. The system does not recognize degrees of honor. The sanction for any breach of honor is dismissal.” So being racist is considered intolerable, there is only one punishment for intolerable behavior, but racists are invited to return to campus. To say nothing of the idea that threatening to lynch a Black classmate is somehow less dishonorable than stealing a pair of boots.

    But that’s a specific comparison, let’s move on to the general. The Honor Code isn’t some immutable law handed down from on high. It’s an honor code. Why shouldn’t racism and discrimination be added to it? Is racism more honorable behavior than lying or cheating? Is discrimination less deleterious to the martial system than thievery?

    Because that’s what the current argument is say – a liar or a cheat or a thief deserves summary dismissal, but a racist doesn’t.

    Next comes the dodge, “Well, who decides?” That’s easy – the Honor Court: “The education of new cadets about the Honor System is the responsibility of the Honor Court. The Honor Court is comprised of first and second class cadets elected by their classmates. In addition to education, the Honor Court is also responsible for adjudicating reported violations of the Honor Code.”

    This is not a heavy lift and it isn’t some sign of social decay. Either racism is honorable behavior or it isn’t. Either discrimination is honorable or it isn’t. Connolly isn’t asking for VMI to create a separate category for these things, he’s asking them to treat them in accordance with how they treat other dishonorable behavior.

    Unless, of course, they aren’t dishonorable. But if people think that they should come right out and say that.

  8. Second, I’m going to step through the examples you cited with you.

    “‘I’m sorry but to the cadets [who] reported to the Washington Post you are the reason we are more divided. You decide to be a professional victim and bitch and complain,’ one student posted. ‘Someone is making a racist joke. GET OVER IT. Comedians can make them. Why can’t I. Everyday in Crozet’ — VMI’s dining hall — ‘black cadet[s] separate yourselves by sitting in the corner of crozet and sometimes acting foolish.'”

    I’ll actually set aside the “professional victim” bit because it’s less important than other things that are happening here. By this cadet’s own admission someone made a racist joke, then the Black cadet is admonished to “get over” someone doing something racist, but it’s Black cadets who are “self-segregating” because they don’t want to be subjected to racist jokes and have their reactions to them dismissed? And Black cadets further separate themselves by acting uniquely foolish compared to their white counterparts?

    The interpretation that this is getting called out as unacceptable because the person involved decided to “defend the Institute or criticize the critics” requires putting some pretty heavy thumbs on scales.

    Next we have:

    “‘To the cadets that drag VMI through the dirt…You misrepresent who we are as a school,’ one person posted. ‘The press takes the words of a few and magnifies it to epic proportions and call[s] it reality. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. I’m not a racist I’m a realist.'”

    Again, the problem isn’t the denial. A lot of people would assert they aren’t racist – in so doing they wouldn’t all assert it’s the people discussing their experiences of racism that are the problem, not the people being racist in the first place. They also wouldn’t use a phrase that signifies they’re into race realism, more about which here:

    The last one I’ll leave be because while I think it’s pretty clear his problem is that he wants to harass Black athletes specifically, it could be considered ambiguous and it’s not worth debating.

    Your response, however…

    “In other words, it’s racist to perceive favoritism toward black athletes and express resentment of that perceived favoritism. And it’s racist to object to the prevailing standards that make it impossible to gripe about favoritism accorded black football players without being called a racist.”

    Presumably, all athletes within a given sport are afforded the same graces – that is to say that it is not the case that Black athletes are allowed to skip drills their white teammates must attend. So there is no specific favoritism toward Black athletes that is not applied to all athletes, which invalidates your first sentence. As to the second assertion , that “it’s racist to object to the prevailing standards that make it impossible to gripe about favoritism accorded black football players without being called a racist” – well, yes and no. It’s racist to gripe about the favoritism afforded to all athletes in the context of just Black players, which is what sounds like is happening. It’s also racist to call any Black cadet a “permit” who is not an athlete; likewise it’s racist to call just athletes who are Black permits.

    Which does leave open the case that if a cadet is busting the chops of all their athlete classmates equally that someone could mistakenly take affront. But even if it was in the Honor Code that’s the kind of thing that – were it to raise to that level – the Honor Court could resolve quickly. To say nothing of a quick “My bad, I just hate all Keydets.”

    • Thank you, UATW and Steve, for your thoughtful comments and analysis of this issue that often elicits quick emotional responses. There are too many among us that seem to want to deny that racism exists. The example of the complaint against black football players is a prime example that it does exist. It seems that the cadet was saying that only Black football players come to VMI because they can’t play anywhere else and that only the Black football players were getting special privileges. His complaints were aimed not at all football players, but at Black football players.

      Then there is the example of a Black cadet being expelled because he gave a fake name when caught in a study room in a bathrobe, but the administration declined to follow the Honor Court’s recommendation that a white cadet be expelled for lying about posting a racist remark and instead suspended him. (The offense was lying, an Honor Code violation.)

      To criticize these actions as seemingly racist is not adhering to critical race theory that Jim and others are so worried about. It is pointing out that racism exists at VMI, both among cadets and in the administration.

      The question is whether these examples represent the actions of just a few or are they the prevalent attitudes, i.e. systemic. That is what the Governor is trying to find out. (Being a VMI alum, you would think he already knows.)

      • So why is Connolly giving Northam a pass? Connolly is a very smart politician. He’s playing for Biden. If he wasn’t, he’d have been hammering Northam for months.

    • I am confused. I thought the question of expulsion for this cadet rested not on whether he was a racist, but the fact that he lied about what he had said. The offense, in other words, was lying, not racism per se. Perhaps NN, below, has it right, but according to the early news reports the cadet did initially deny saying what he later admitted he said.

  9. A cadet does not lie, cheat, steal nor tolerate those who do.

    Racism is a lie. If not one you tell others, certainly one told to yourself.

    • First, I went back to the unit history and I was a bit rough on old Newton Shufflebarger’s unit. The 30th VA Battalion was in the center of the Southern attack line at New Market and took a huge battering from artillery, which shattered a wing and opened a gap with the 51st VA that the cadets had to fill. It stalled but it didn’t break. That was its first major combat, however.

      Second, race-based abuse of a fellow cadet could easily rate expulsion, but I don’t think you want the student honor court making those determinations. And I sure hope you will apply the standard all ways, to any cadet who makes such assumptions about another cadet based on skin color, religion or national origin and then expresses or acts on it. Beyond that, only God and The Shadow know the evil that lurks in the hearts of men.

      The key to VMI’s survival is the generational loyalty. Were I a reporter one question would be, are there now second generation or even third generation cadets from any families of the previous Black cadets? If so, that would be a strike against the claim the school is just a cesspit of racist thought.

      I get it. You expect me to piss on the graves of my Confederate ancestors, including Newton’s cousins who actually were in Stonewall’s command (4th VA). I’ll stand by and let you do it, but will not join. If the crime is “racism,” that was rampant in every state then and still is. The war was about slavery, and did nothing about racism.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        I was invited by a former student to come and witness the VMI Parade to commemorate the fallen from VMI. It was quite a show of martial spirit. The 30th Virginia faced a blistering of cannister from Henry Dupont’s artillery. Shuffelbarger and his comrades had to fall back, they were at the optimal range for a deadly shower of shrapnel akin to a shot gun blast. The sound of cannister alone will make a man quiver.

    • Every living thing is a racist. My chickens avoid the fox based on instinct and past experience. If we all are racists, even the woke ones, what is the solution to that? Am I racist if I breath air? I am certainly preventing another race from that oxygen and therefore I am a racist.

  10. So Northam actually DID participate in racism – true – so what is he doing now? Working to end racism?

    What are other folks who participated in it doing now? Some seem to be continuing to defend it still.

    Do give credit to those who have reformed and do give credit to those who have not and refuse.

    • If I thought for one second that Ralph Northam had reformed and was now sincerely working to end racism I would give him all due credit.

      However, based on his behavior when (and since) his past overt racism was first uncovered, I think it far more likely that his current actions are nothing but political theater, a well-rehearsed performance by a political-circus animal known as the “pander bear”.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Give credit to Northam? Never. 440 days until Mr. Northam is out of office and out of power.

  11. If all Northam was doing is “political theatre” then why all the agnst about it?

    Many white folks started out going along with how things were – especially if they were in social groups where you’d have to essentially choose to oppose their traditions and pay the price – be ostrasized, etc…

    But over time, more and more folks realized that it was wrong and they took a stand and things started to change.

    I put Northam in that group. He obviously was part of it way back when but now his actions with Higher Ed and VDOE clearly show he has changed – to the anger of many who vociferously disagree.

    Does anyone think the things VDOE is doing now with “equity” issues is not what Northam approves of?

  12. Northam receives and continues to receive a pass because the media is filth and has no objective standards beyond “Does it advance my personal views?”

    I was doing some genealogy research. I came across the following text in a May 1945 edition of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune.

    “A Bureau of Accuracy and Fair Play, organized to assure full and prompt attention to every complaint, is maintained by the Minneapolis Star-Journal and Tribune. It is open every day except Sunday from 7 A.M. until midnight, to deal courteously with any person who feels that he or she has not been justly treated in any news story or business dealing involving the newspapers. The bureau is located on the third floor of the Star-Journal and Tribune building. Complaints may be made in per son or by calling ATlantic 3111.”

    This was from the days when journalism was a profession even though many of the journalists did not have degrees in journalism. How many years has it been since the Post ended its ombudsman? Would people start spending more money on media if professionalism returned?

  13. “How many years has it been since the Post ended its ombudsman?”

    Nine years, as best I can remember, around the fall of 2011, and it was the year I gave up my 40 year subscription to the Washington Post. The last ombudsmen of Washington Post was a honest, decent and solid guy. We communicated regularly.

    But by that time, 2011, the Washington Post had become little more than in house organ of the Democratic Party, its unofficial communications and marketing director.

    For example, it had launched an orchestrated 7 month long smear campaign against the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in the Spring of 2011. I followed that effort closely, and pulled all of its variant pieces together and sent a long report on it to the Ombudman, showing how it was done in close coordination with Nancy Pelosi.

    The smear involved well over a dozen reporters, under the direction of a executive editor and it lasted from April though September (at least), and was built in opposition to a Republican effort to balance budget, or least get some control of the wildly out of controlled deficit spending of the Democrats. When I put all the coordinated articles in the Post together over 7 months, it read with a narrative arc across all sections of the newspaper like a Broadway play, a comedy, musical, opera, and tragedy, wrapped into one.

  14. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    The Old Yell tonight at VMI will be legendary for many years to come. Only Keydets could give a send off to General Peay like this one.

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