Newspeak for a Racial Spoils System

Letters from disgruntled alumni continue to pour into the office of University of Virginia president Jim Ryan. Bacon’s Rebellion is privy to some of them, and when letter writers add something new to the ongoing discussion, I will endeavor to publish the relevant passages in the blog. In this post, I’m extracting from a letter written by Walter L. Smith, of Glen Allen. After dedicating much of the letter to illuminating the greatness of Thomas Jefferson, he gets down to brass tacks, addressing the disconnect between the UVa administration and its alumni. (You can read the full letter here.) — JAB

How did this alumni disconnect happen?

Over the years I think alumni have become inured to politics coming out of our academical village, in line with a Jeffersonian belief in free speech. But that creeping politicization has now become an obsession which seems to have reached a peak with the Unite the Right rally and stayed at that level since, to the
detriment of actual intellectual inquiry and reasoned discourse. Since the Unite the Right rally it seems all the alumni hear from the people in charge of the University is racism and contextualization – ponderously named Committees to study “controversial” topics and make recommendations which seem aimed at wiping out history in the name of “racial equity.”

Published reports about the Unite the Right rally describe the “white supremacists” as ranging from dozens to 250. While I am not sure all of the people were actually “white supremacists,” to gather a group of 250 of them required an assemblage from all over the United States. I would guess that there
are more dangerous drunks in Charlottesville on a football weekend than “white supremacists” in all of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Seriously, 250 (at most) whackos “took over” our Grounds that good people needed to take them back and wear TAKEBACKOURGROUNDS wristbands years later?

Overblown hysteria. And on account of this, what should have passed by now as an historical event to study and learn from, cancel culture comes for Thomas Jefferson? Cancel culture is decidedly non-Jeffersonian, and two can play that game. I do not know a single white supremacist. I don’t think I know anyone who knows a white supremacist. The closest I could get to that would be to say I know people who know Ralph Northam, and I presume he knows who is in the Klan
robe in his infamous yearbook photo. Didn’t Ralph Northam’s family own slaves? Is it moral to accept a BOV appointment from such a man? Should those BOV votes even count in the September 11, 2020 endorsement?

Another opportunity to end the madness may have been refusing to buckle over the silly controversy requiring a re-design of the re-designed athletics logo. Really? Grips on the swords caused pain because the grips were to be reminiscent of the Serpentine Walls? What happens when these affected people
drive on a country road? Is that even safe? Can they study light waves and sound waves and geometry? Why the Enslaved Worker Memorial might even present some dangerous shape. Maybe we should redo all of the architecture in Mies Van der Rohe brutalist style as a precaution to avoid any curves or elegance. In fact, why should the Serpentine Walls exist at all? Will french fries be safe for students of Irish descent in the cafeteria? Will Jewish students need protection from Egyptian influences? Certainly, all the Palladian bricks could remind them of their forced labor making bricks, and we might be required as a moral imperative to convert everything to brutalist architecture and cement as the answer.

OK, I’m done being stupid on purpose. My point was the athletics logo was an easy “no.” If it was truly “painful,” then I respectfully suggest mental medical intervention to cure an irrational fear. But, if you had stepped up and put an end to the insanity then, maybe we would not be dealing with the Lawn door controversy. (And the logo looks even more cartoonish without the grips!) Nature abhors a vacuum and your lack of firm, non-politicized leadership has created this firestorm.

And now the Board has endorsed the report of the Racial Equity Task Force, including the need to contextualize Thomas Jefferson. How many members actually read the entire report? I don’t have the time to deconstruct the deconstruction in the Racial Equity Task Force entire report, so I’ll make two
observations. First, how is it that none of the task force participants and apparently not one of the Board of Visitors members objected to the abandonment of content-of-character and all-men-are-created-equal
principles in favor of explicit race-based color of skin requirements? Is that not racist per se?

Second, the term “inclusive excellence” is an oxymoron, hiding an underlying post-modern Marxism. “Excellence” appears 37 times in the task force’s report – 25 times it is preceded by “inclusive.” In about half of the 12 other excellence mentions, the context implies “inclusive.” The word “excellence” is exclusive – excellence occurs when one excels at some task or skill over a lengthy period with repeatedly proven results (for example, Ms. Mangano’s soccer career). How exactly does one do “inclusive” excellence? My take is it is Newspeak for a racial spoils system – the new and improved Jim Crow for money and advantage. Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr., would not approve of the report which the BOV just endorsed. One would think being true to Jefferson’s intellectual legacy would be somewhat important to the BOV. And, since you provided legal advice on defamation in Rector Murray’s letter, you might want to check the 4th line of the first paragraph on page 5 of the Racial Equity Task Force report. The overstatement could be defamatory per se.

The profane Lawn doors have finally awakened the alumni to ignore no more the politics of the BOV and administration. Perhaps this will prove to the good of the University by providing needed oversight from alumni who exist outside of the elite academic world. Hiding behind advice of counsel on First Amendment grounds only confirms a demonstrated lack of leadership. Consistent with free speech and the BOV’s mission you could have said, “Of course, her message is offensive, and I believe grossly inaccurate. Nonetheless, at Thomas Jefferson’s University we revere the value of free speech, and our student has the same right as all others to express her opinions. We do not approve of her manner of
expression as it violates our values of the collegial exchange of ideas and mutual respect. Additionally, residency on the Lawn is an honor and carries responsibilities to respect not just the University, but its status as a UNESCO/World Heritage site. I, with the entire Board of Visitors, strongly encourage her to express her opinions in a manner consistent with all of these expectations I have laid out.” Since you have not chosen to express any disapprobation, it now falls to alumni and the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia to shine sunlight on the day to day and long-term governance of “Mr.
Jefferson’s University.”

I have exercised my First Amendment rights in writing you and expressing my opinions. I suspect many alumni agree with many points, but I would doubt any alumnus is in total agreement on all points. Human beings are not monolithic groups. That is the point of free discourse. Similarly, I would expect that you and anyone who may see this letter would be capable of responding with reasoned discourse and not seek to cancel me, my family or friends. I think many students, alumni and faculty are fearful of expressing dissent, and it is your charge, Mr. Jefferson’s wish, that such fears should be unfounded.

The problems at the University of Virginia are due to you concentrating on politics rather than the pursuit of truth. I am sorry to be blunt here, but you could take the accomplishments of all participants in drafting and creating the documents and websites related to the Racial Equity Task Force, add them
up to one number, multiply that number by 100 and it would not begin to compare to Thomas Jefferson’s accomplishments and contributions to the world. That alumni are having to step in to defend Jefferson and to upbraid you for your dereliction of duty is a disgrace. Please, on behalf of the entire
University of Virginia community – students, faculty, alumni, and friends worldwide – drop the politics and get back to real academic and research excellence. The alumni would support that, and it would be “Jeffersonian.”

Walter L. Smith
College 1979
JD/MBA 1984

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26 responses to “Newspeak for a Racial Spoils System

  1. “How did this alumni disconnect happen?”

    They forgot the principles of the man who founded the place… or maybe they didn’t.

  2. see… you sorta know where this guy really is when he knows what “cancel culture” means and uses it in his argument. He’s already decided. Right?

    then he says: ” Additionally, residency on the Lawn is an honor and carries responsibilities to respect not just the University, but its status as a UNESCO/World Heritage site.”

    Now, do you think he thought that up himself or he is on an email chain or similar ?

    So, the opponents are all sharing info with each other – including phrases like “cancel culture” and “world heritage site” – and engaging in a good old fashioned letter writing campaign.

    Nothing wrong with that – except when it’s presented as individuals who independently are opposed to UVAs actions.

    Instead, they’re really part of an organized group and apparently Jim is also and able to view their letters and use them here.

    Nothing wrong with that – but fair to characterize it as an organized group not a bunch of independent letter writers.

    • So these alumni are an “organized group” but antifa is not?

      Or BLM for that matter.

      You have very recently denied that either of those groups are “organized”, but you see “organization” here?

      Talk about a double standard – this “boogeyman” you have invented doesn’t even have a name, yet you criticize them raising similar questions about recent events at their alma mater.

  3. James Ryan is the perfect Marxist for our times. From his unelected post he happily charges some students more to get a UVa education so he can charge other students less. A champion of defending the free speech rights of an apparently unhinged undergraduate I’m sure he has no comment on the rights of Virginians to gather and practice their religion. Rights denied by Lord Blackface. I also wonder how he views Comrade diBlasio’s decision that large gatherings of BLM protesters would be allowed in NYC while mid-sized gatherings for Jewish funerals would be broken up by the police.

    However, like all good Marist elite, the state’s coffers are quite kind to James Ryan. The government supplied house in which he resides on Carr’s Hill across from the Rotunda has recently been renovated at a cost of $13.9m. This is a house. A large house but a house nonetheless. It has 7 bedrooms and 8 baths. Now, think long and hard about $13.9m. If I gave you a prime piece of land (free of charge) and you had to build a house from scratch, how nice a house could you build for $13.9m? Normally you’d answer this question by considering cost per sq ft to construct the house. A 5,000 sq ft house at $150 per sq ft would cost $750,000. Again, without the land cost. Do you think a $750,000 house (without land cost) is a nice house? I don’t know how big Carr’s Hill (the UVa president’s residence) is. But it has 7 bedrooms and 8 baths. Let’s aim high and say 20,000 sq ft. At $13.9m that’s $695 per sq ft. For a renovation!! Remember that 5,000 sq ft house discussed earlier? At $695 per sq ft it would cost $3,475,000 (assuming the land were free). And that’s building from scratch, not renovating.

    “Now reopened after two years and $13.9 million in long-deferred repairs, renovations and updates inside and out, Carr’s Hill rejoins University life.”

    From fancy dachas on the Black Sea to shining palaces atop Carr’s Hill, sacrifice for the little people doesn’t apply to the elite princes of socialism.

    “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” Karl Marx. Apparently James Ryan has extraordinary needs when it comes to housing.

    • geeze DJ… blackface, plantation elite, snowflakes and now this?

    • 13,700 square feet, according to the story at the link you posted.

      So, about $1,015/SF.

      • Over a thousand dollars per sq ft for a renovation? That’s just stunning. It’s a house!

        That amount could have knocked $1,000 off every UVa student’s tuition (or thereabouts).

        • Pretty sure at least $800 per square foot is for graft and corruption.

        • HISTORIC house…. And renovations (especially of historic old houses – likely with haz mat present) often cost a great deal more on a sq foot basis than new constructions. Any plumber worth his weight in salt knows that to be true.

          • I have been involved in the renovation and restoration of a couple of historic building which are much older than Carr’s Hill. No matter how you slice it, $1,000+ per square foot is a positively ridiculous price to pay for the renovation of a house – especially one that was only a little more than 100 years old.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      For a few sheckles more President Ryan could have bought Walter Chrysler’s old estate in Warrenton and open a UVA satellite campus on 1,400 acres.

      • And if T. Sullivan was Pres, the same rhetoric from the same usual suspects would be exactly the same, right?

        Sullivan was as “woke” as could be – she just did not know it cuz the blatherbutts had not yet been using that pejorative…


      • At just shy of $30 Million list (and you could probably get it for $22.5), it’s an absolute bargain compared to the scandalous cost of the Carrs Hill renovation.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          North Wales is amazing. Chrysler’s garage is better than Carr Hill. Walter built an elevator for his classically styled garage so he could store all of his roadsters.

          • The irony is – on one hand we have folks yammering about “Marxism” and on the other about how people who work hard for success, deserve the things that come with it (like big expensive houses).

            So the very same folks then argue that the folks who achieve success are …somehow.. undeserving of it… “corrupt”, “woke”, “bad”.

            The same folks who argue that hard work and success is a good thing – go after the guys/gals who become Presidents of Universities… for their salaries…

            go figure! 😉

          • I visited there a couple of times many years ago when I was living in Fauquier County. I knew a guy who knew a guy who was a caretaker (or some such function) at the estate.

            It is truly magnificent.

    • They paid a huge amount to have all of the chimneys on campus lined, hundreds of them.

  4. To those above doubting the legitimacy of Walter Smith or his independence, you are wrong. I am one of the alumni/ae who have written President Ryan and the BOV. We are united in one sense only: respect for Thomas Jefferson coupled with a love for our alma mater.

    This is not a right wing conspiracy. It is an effort by hundreds of alumni/ae who are finally speaking up to combat the onslaught of a Progressive faculty and Administration who have forgotten what has historically made UVA a great institution. If allowing “F UVA” posters on the Lawn are considered a permissible demonstration of free speech, then any vulgar, ill conceived political opinion is fair game.

    We view this as the desecration of the Academical Village. If you don’t, you’re welcome to your opinion. We are welcome to ours, and will not be silenced.

    Tom Neale

    • No conspiracy. But an organized letter-writing campaign? some truth there.

      I wonder how many of the Alumni AGREE with what UVA is doing?

      Is this a situation where most of the Alumni are opposed or is it more like the split we see in society?


  5. Jim, are you going to post any letters supportive of the UVa. administration or are you not privy to those?

    • I have yet to see a pro-Ryan alumni letter. But I’ll continue to post communications from the administration. Ryan has written a fairly lengthy piece, which I need to highlight…. but I may want to comment on it as well.

  6. I think if Jim actually saw such letters, he’d likely run shrieking from the room looking like this:

  7. Jim, I suggest that Walter L. Smith’s comments, that you posted, deserve to be properly formatted within your post. Reed

  8. One example:
    The closest I could get to that would be to say I know people who know Ralph Northam, and I presume he knows who is in the Klan
    …. robe in his infamous yearbook photo.

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