Principled Leader or Pandering Politician?

by Carmen Villani

As a Virginia Military Institute graduate and former [resident of the Honor Court, I find the remarks made by the Governor of Virginia Monday night before the Corps of Cadets appalling. I do not mention him by name intentionally because I believe that he has placed “personal gain above personal honor.”

On full display was a pandering politician, instead of a principled leader. He spoke of his “pride” and “love” for VMI,  yet his October 19, 2020, letter to the VMI Board of Visitors started with: “We write to express our deep concerns about the clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism at the Virginia Military Institute.”

As VMI graduates, we are called upon to “defend” and “vindicate,” not “throw the Institute under the bus.”

In one context, the Governor mentioned memorizing the Rat Bible, and in another asking “who is that a statue of? When was it erected? Why is that person being honored?” The Rat Bible identified that statue.  You would think that in the four years he spent there, he would come to fully understand that it was of Stonewall Jackson and that it represented courage under fire, character, military genius, and resolve.

He also stated, “The eyes can’t see what the brain doesn’t know,” and then went on to further say, “Gone are the statues that glorify rebellion against the United States.” He used a medical analogy: “If you don’t know what a medical diagnosis is, your mind won’t identify it when you see it – even if all the symptoms are staring you right in the face.” Well the governor’s diagnosis of what Stonewall Jackson represents was wrong. If he had seen what was in his Rat Bible and listened with his ears, his “brain” would have correctly “diagnosed” that the statue represents courage, character, military genius, and resolve.

The Governor also made mention of one of our finest graduates, General George C. Marshall. He should spend some time studying what General Marshall believed true leaders should “continually” emulate — and it wasn’t diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI)-based ideology. From the book General George C. Marshall Rubrics Of Leadership, here are just a few:

  • Be a person of high integrity
  • Be courageous and determined
  • Seek responsibility
  • Be devoted to others

Further along in the speech, the Governor referenced a proverb – “A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will.” While some changes are good, core values should remain the same. The values of honor, courage, and resolve should never be overshadowed by diversity, equity, and inclusion.  There is another proverb — “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Finally, to invoke God, His blessing, and praying is sheer hypocrisy. During an interview on WTOP radio in January of 2019, the Governor spoke of keeping a newborn child “comfortable” while a “discussion” took place in regard to infanticide. Talk about an “appalling culture.”

Carmen Villani graduated from VMI, class of 1976..

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6 responses to “Principled Leader or Pandering Politician?”

  1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

    Thank you, Carmen, for this exceptional post.

    Like you, I wish Northam would just stop lying. All that equivocating about the “black face” photo is just pathetic. Northam and his wife are in that photo, and you could see the fear in Mrs. Northam’s face (during the infamous press conference) that Northam might give them both up.

    But saying that he did not know that the statue in front of “Jackson Arch” was a depiction of Stonewall Jackson is taking things just a little too far. Does Northam really believe that any person on Planet Earth believes that? How stupid does he think the cadets and the alumni are?

    I suppose Northam also did not know that the four cannon that flank Jackson’s statue comprise the famous “Rockbridge Artillery,” and were called “Matthew,” “Mark,” “Luke,” and “John.” No, Northam did not know that. He never noticed them.

    Northam claims to have heard “Dixie” and to have seen Confederate battle flags at VMI. Did he? Northam entered VMI in 1977, either two or three years AFTER the VMI Board of Visitors officially abolished “Dixie” and the Confederate battle flag from campus. So, what exactly did Northam hear and see? That all depends on the situation.

    1. Carmen Villani Jr Avatar
      Carmen Villani Jr

      Thanks for the response. I graduated in 1976 and as I recall, the playing of Dixie stopped being played during the New Market Day Parade before my First Class year. He came to VMI in 1977. I don’t recall it being played during any other event. The math doesn’t add up.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    His excellency is down to 59 days.

    1. Jake Spivey Avatar
      Jake Spivey

      Time won’t move fast enough.
      In addition to Carmen’s and others observations re: the disparity of the governor’s (small ‘g’) remarks and facts. Recall if you pls., the fact Northam is from the Virginia eastern shore. Therefore, a lifelong resident of the Commonwealth. For him to assert he didn’t know who TJJ was (or Lee, or other CSA-related individuals) is way beyond the pale.
      I do find it interesting that his Klan-hood wearing wife doesn’t take away his shovel. The hole he’s dug is already doggone deep. Wonder how his job prospects are shaping up since his endorsement of McMuffin didn’t pan out too well?

      1. Carmen Villani Jr Avatar
        Carmen Villani Jr

        Just can’t make this stuff up Jake!

  3. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    I just looked at the text of GINO Northam’s VMI speech:

    This part caught my eye: “It didn’t occur to me to ask, who is that a statue of? When was it erected? Why is that person being honored? Who decided that we would all salute him?”

    I didn’t see anywhere in the speech where Governor Northam said it was a mistake for VMI to honor Stonewall Jackson. The word “Jackson” is not even in his speech.

    GINO Northam didn’t have the guts to come out and say that it was a good thing that the Jackson statue was gone. How pathetic.

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