Shapira Hits All-Time Low in VMI Coverage

Superintendent Cedric T. Wins at a VMI ceremony. Photo credit: The Washington Post.

by James A. Bacon

New rule at The Washington Post: it’s OK to insinuate that conservatives are racist for disagreeing with an authority figure who happens to be Black. No evidence of bias required.

The democracy-dies-in-darkness newspaper set a new low yesterday in an article published Monday describing how conservative alumni of the Virginia Military Institute decry the implementation of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion by the Board of Visitors and Superintendent Cedric T. Wins. Reporter Ian Shapira never comes out directly and calls the dissident alumni racist, but he makes the implication unmistakable. His rhetorical devices are a case study in slimy journalism that stops just short of libel.

Let’s start with the headline, which may or may not be Shapira’s composition but accurately reflects the tone of the article:

“VMI’s first Black superintendent under attack by conservative White alumni”

See the trope? The superintendent is Black, the alumni are conservative and White. The headline doesn’t say explicitly that the alumni are attacking the superintendent because he is Black. But the phrase invites readers to assume that there must be a link between the superintendent’s race and the race of the alumni — why else would race be injected into the headline, which by its nature is sparing and economical with words?

Shapira then leads this article with this:

Ever since Virginia Military Institute began rolling out new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives last year, a fierce and well-funded group of conservative alumni has been attacking the efforts to make VMI more welcoming to women and minorities.

Here he supplies a motive. The alumni are attacking “efforts to make VMI more welcoming to women and minorities.”

The charitable word to describe this phrase is “misleading.” True, alumni are criticizing the DEI program, but they are not attacking it because they oppose making VMI more welcoming to Blacks and minorities. If they had ever expressed such a desire, Shapira would have quoted them to that effect. But they haven’t.

Rather, dissident alumni are attacking the DEI program because they believe DEI encourages cadets to focus on their identity by race, sex, and gender, which is antithetical to the egalitarian Rat Line/regimental system, which tears down previous identities, basic training-style, and remolds cadets as “brother rats” and VMI citizen-soldiers. One might disagree with the dissidents’ philosophy. One might disagree with their analysis of how DEI is being implemented at VMI. That’s fine. But Shapira ignores the philosophical differences entirely and frames the issues as based on race.

He continues:

Now the mostly White alumni group has turned its sights on a new target: the first Black superintendent at the nation’s oldest state-supported military college.

Again, Shapira frames the controversy as a matter of race. I have interacted with dissident alumni for some two years now and I have never heard them allude to Wins’ race other than in passing and never as a negative. Shapira is making Wins’ race an issue.

True, some alumni have criticized the Board for giving Wins a $100,000 bonus, and others have called for him to be fired. Why? Because he is Black? No, because VMI has seen a 25% decline in entering 1st-year students. Reasonable people can disagree about why VMI saw such a decline and whether Wins bears responsibility. But it is not gratuitous to suggest that the decline might have been due in some degree to the massive wave of negative publicity (perpetrated largely by Shapira and the Post) of VMI as a racist, sexist institution and the seeming validation of that assessment by the Board and Wins through the implementation of DEI training and programs.

Shapira then runs this quote from Chuck Rogerson, a retired White Army colonel who roomed with Wins when they were cadets:

They can’t handle the change because they’ve never had to deal with it before — a man of color leading the institute. Did they ever question prior superintendents’ salaries?

Here the insinuation of racism becomes more explicit: Wins’ critics can’t handle the idea of a “man of color” leading the Institute. Rogerson’s putative evidence: they never criticized prior superintendents’ salaries. True, they didn’t. But that’s because they regarded the previous superintendent with great respect — not because he was White but because they shared his values and priorities. As it happens, dissident alumni disagree not only with Wins, who is Black, but with members of the VMI Board, most of whom are… White.

Almost comically in this context, Shapira quotes Board Chairman Tom Watjen, whom Shapira credits with overseeing the launch of the DEI program.

Any time people are attacking the superintendent, I’m going to be unhappy.… He’s the one that we’re counting on for helping to bring us forward and protect the mission and purpose of the institute to bring us to the next level, said Watjen, who is White. Every time he gets attacked, I feel attacked.

Here, Watjen poses as the Great White Savior. But he doesn’t need to feel attacked when Wins gets attacked. Dissident alumni have criticized Watjen directly. It is grotesque to suggest that dissident alumni have singled out Wins for criticism. Alumni have had plenty to say about the role of Watjen and the Board in the governance of VMI.

The article continues in that vein. Alumni, says Shapira, have “assailed” VMI’s first chief diversity officer, Jamica Love, “the college’s highest-ranking Black woman.” Get that? Alumni have assailed her, a Black woman — not the DEI policies she is implementing. “Angry” alumni, writes Shapira, have found a forum on WRVA’s John Reid Show. Shapira proceeds to quote not the alumni who appear on his show but Reid, a conservative but not a VMI alumnus, and to take issue with his views on DEI.

None of the alumni in question responded to Shapira’s requests for comments, which is understandable given his long-standing hostility to them, but he does quote Thomas Gottwald, a former board member who resigned during the Northam administration and was reappointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin, based on a recording of the board meeting. (Gottwald, Shapira reminds his readers, is White. And he donated $77,500 to Youngkin’s campaign.)

It’s not a small group of alumni who feel like their voice isn’t being heard right now. It’s a big group. To make broad generalizations about alumni, about anyone being critical of what is going on, is just one further implication that alumni need to just shut up and get in line, that dissenting opinions, different opinions aren’t encouraged or welcomed here.

Gottwald makes a valid point. That is the way the dissident alumni feel.

One might argue that I’m misconstruing Shapira’s article, that I’m reading insinuations of accusations of racism into his words. Let me respond by noting that the article has generated some 4,400 comments at last count, and most of the commenters are reading its intent the same way I do.

“Sounds like VMI is an incubator for white supremacy,” says one.

“The spirit of VMI might as well be the spirit of the KKK. Sickening,” says another.

“I am SO SICK AND TIRED of elderly white southern racists clinging desperately to their white supremacy dreams,” says another.

There are genuine philosophical issues at stake. How is DEI being implemented at VMI? Is the emphasis on racial, sexual and gender identity compatible or incompatible with the Rat Line? These are issues that Shapira could explore if he chose. But to my recollection, he has never done so. Instead, he has cast alumni dissidents as reactionary White conservatives. With this article, he has gone further by insinuating racist motives.

Ironically, as much as the dissident alumni may disagree with Wins, any negative feelings they bear for him pale in comparison to the animosity they feel for Shapira. Alumni accord Wins respect for his distinguished military service, and they had high hopes for him when he was first appointed. The person they detest more than any other is a smug, Princeton-educated heir of a wealthy Kentucky bourbon-distillery conglomerate who uses The Washington Post to signal his superiority over his moral inferiors — Shapira himself.

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141 responses to “Shapira Hits All-Time Low in VMI Coverage”

  1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “His rhetorical devices are a case study in slimy journalism that stops just short of libel.”

    He must be a regular BR reader…

    1. That is certainly true of many of your comments here at BR.

      1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
        Eric the half a troll

        Not a so-called “journalist”…

        1. That was “journalism” not “journalist”. Don’t get above your raising.

          1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Neither a so-called “journalist” nor practicing so-called “journalism”… just a half a troll…

          2. … short of a full troll

          3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Neither a so-called “journalist” nor practicing so-called “journalism”… just a half a troll…

  2. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    JAB’s dudgeon May be blinding as he stands on a soapbox channeling the feelings and animosity of the VMI alumni toward the reporter. Who knew this ESP existed?

  3. Someone has definitely reached a new low, but it ain’t Shapira.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having had personal experiences with Shapira, he is and always has been a reprehensible POS making for worst manner of muckracker. Thus he gets shifted from newsdesk to newsdesk within WIPO as he systematically wears out his welcome with each editor that has deal with the complaints that inherently follow his “news” articles.

    1. Were you featured in any of his articles? If so, which one?

      1. Randy Huffman Avatar
        Randy Huffman

        You don’t have to be featured in an article to have personal experience with someone.

        1. That’s beside the point. I’m asking if Mom was featured.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        I thought Shapira had won awards for his writing, no?

        1. I think that’s right.

      3. Not me, others who were under my watch that I had to defend against his shoddy research and libel. Got him transferred from the Virginia desk to the Maryland desk by the Metro editor.

        1. Wait, what? When did this happen? He’s been part of the Virginia desk for as long as I’ve been reading the Post. And wouldn’t this be something that would have some record of it? Like what story are you talking about? You said “libel,” was there a lawsuit?

          1. Happened about 14 or 15 years ago, been keeping an eye on the scumbag ever since.

          2. Can you describe the story that led to the dispute? I’d like to look it up.

          3. I would rather let that sleeping dog lie, careers and reputations were ultimately ruined as a result of his articles. No sense reopening those wounds.

          4. OK, but the article was obviously published and therefore part of the public record. It’s not like anything new will be revealed. I could also just query the Post, but I’d rather not. They’ll know what you’re talking about presumably.

          5. I looked into it, and Shapira was not transferred the MD desk 14 or 15 years ago. He hasn’t been part of the MD desk. Can you provide more details?

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    So if enrollment rises next year will General Wins lose some of his salary?

    1. Depends. Are the admittees neo-confederates and kids of racist alums?

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        What is a neo confederate?

        1. Welp, it’s people who today pine for the Confederacy (really the mythology around it), its iconography, its way of life. But latter day, you know, “neo,” you know, new.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            e.g. – neo nazi ??

          2. Etymology, helluva a thing!

          3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
            James Wyatt Whitehead

            You mean like this? If so, Uncle Jesse and I will be over Thanksgiving tomorrow. We like dark meat.

          4. Oh, c’mon off it. You know you only like white meat;-).

  6. Bob X from Texas Avatar
    Bob X from Texas

    I hate everyone regardless of race, religion, and country of origin. I will treat you all equally, like the unwashed vermin you are! You will say nothing unless spoken to. You will start all communications with Sir. You will follow my instructions not to the best of your ability but to exceed my expectations.

    My Black Drill Sargent , 1972

    He would now be considered the black face of white supremacy

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Well, like the Irish always ask, “Is this a private fight or can anyone join in?”

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        My Irish immigrant mother sometimes said my Irish immigrant father would pick a fight with a pinhole. Not sure what the image means but the idea seems appropriate.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      My drill sergeants (same era) came down hard on anyone calling them “Sir”. It was to be, “Yes,

      Drill Sergeant!” or “No, Drill Sergeant!” The rest sounds familiar, though.

      1. Bob X from Texas Avatar
        Bob X from Texas

        They wanted you to call them sir so they could respond “I work for a living, do I look like some kind’a butter bar.”

      2. Matt Adams Avatar

        Depends on branch, typically the Corps refers to their DI’s as Sir. Outside of them you’ll get the response, don’t call me “Sir” I work for a living.

  7. The insinuation that white men disagree with black men because they are black is antithetical to the ideals of ‘equity’.

    If I can have a philosophical disagreement with a white man without being called a racist, then I should be able to have the same philosophical disagreement with a black man without being called racist. That would be real equity.

    As an example, when I disagreed with Bill Clinton, his supporters argued with me based on political philosophy. When I disagreed with Barack Obama, for the very same reasons I disagreed with Clinton, his supporters called me racist.

    But the truth of the matter is, I was being equitable, they were being racist.

    1. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      Presumably, such ‘equity’ is applicable to gender other than men.

      1. Substitute Hillary for Barack and genderist for racist in the example and you have applied it to the other gender. Substitute neo liberal elite for Hillary and you have applied it to the entire panoply of genders in your wildest dreams.

      2. Substitute Hillary for Barack and genderist for racist in the example and you have applied it to the other gender. Then substitute neo liberal elite for Hillary and you have applied it to the entire panoply of genders in your wildest dreams.

        1. James McCarthy Avatar
          James McCarthy

          Shazam!!! TV’s newest game show: Name That Substitute. Substitute Sherlock for JAB and, voila, woke conservative; Youngkin for Republican produces Presidential candidate; Violence for ballots and the product is January 6th.

          1. I think you’re on to something. However, you missed substitute demented octogenarian and you get President Joe. Also clueless and inappropriate laugher and you get VP Harris.

            A bipartisan game has wider appeal and a surplus of participants on both sides.

          2. James McCarthy Avatar
            James McCarthy

            You invented it!!! Congrats. Self-amusement will be mentally beneficial. Also, attempting always to be clever and have the last word. There is no substitute for you.

        2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore


          1. It had a certain appeal. With so many available these days sexist seemed simplistic, outdated, and anti-inclusive:)

  8. “But the phrase invites readers to assume that there must be a link between the superintendent’s race and the race of the alumni — why else would race be injected into the headline, which by its nature is sparing and economical with words?” Race is injected into the headline, because race–specifically the opposition to DEI as “racism against white people” and push back against the finding of systemic racism–is at the heart of the debate. The PAC, Old Corps Spirit, and other folks are overwhelmingly white and the objects of their attacks are 100% black. In fact, they’re the highest ranking African Americans that VMI has ever had. If you don’t believe, Mr. Bacon, that there is a race component, I invite you go to VMI Old Corps Spirt website, or perhaps look at the VMI Instagram feed announcing the hiring of Dr. Love, or perhaps go to Jodel to look at the various antisemitic attacks directed at Shapira, or perhaps watch this video that was recently posted by a group of anti-change alums. No one believes your cover story (outside of these pages), because it’s not true. There is and always has been a race component about everything related to VMI. It’s a historical fact. The people who told their stories to VMI are not lying. Sorry to break the news.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      The school’s proudest moment was an act of white supremacy that they celebrate annually.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        George Marshall’s graduation?

        1. That, and Jonathan Daniels graduation. His valedictory address is must read, and essentially ignored by the regressive alumni cohort.

        2. That, and Jonathan Daniels graduation. His valedictory address is must read, and essentially ignored by the regressive alumni cohort.

        3. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Nah, some brawl at a downtown Newport News shopping mall.

    2. MisterChips Avatar

      What if the opposition to DEI is not because “It’s racism against white people” but rather because it’s destructive to what most alumni experienced and what they feel makes VMI so unique That is the esprit de corps that exists between Brother Rats and all alumni. That bond develops because of the equally rotten treatment given to all rats. I hope VMI survives all the “improvements” being made.

      1. What makes you think DEI undermines that experience? What makes you think that pain is dealt out equally in the first place? What’s wrong with preparing kids for what they will see the private sector, and especially the military where over 40% of the active force is minority? Implementing DEI is precisely what will help VMI survive into the future. Further, if it weren’t at some level about white people feeling threatened, why is the message so closely intermingled with racism, bigotry, white victimhood? In VMI’s case, you have the added element of Lost Cause mythology. It’s a terrible look.

        1. MisterChips Avatar

          VMI is designed to take in new cadets and see them as nothing but rats. Anything that tries to see rats as anything but that is problematic. For example, rats who escape parts of the rat experience because they are on an athletic team have been causing division in the corps for decades. Rats should just be rats.
          Some cadets absolutely have a harder ratline (and cadetship) than others so the pain is not completely equal but I don’t see that as a problem in need of a solution. You matriculate, you’re part of a group of rats, who are by definition equal, and you become a class someday by working for it and overcoming the struggles together. Maybe you have a good dyke and an easier path and maybe you become a target of upperclassmen and have a harder path. That’s life and probably not a bad lesson for young cadets.
          I prefer a more timeless approach to the VMI mission. You don’t need to prepare them specifically for the corporate world in 2022 or the current iteration of the military. You prepare them to become strong, disciplined, educated and honorable citizen-soldiers. That’s it. Educated and honorable people aren’t racists and they can work with anyone. No flavor of the month DEI training required. I think DEI and other improvements will likely be the end of VMI because they’re divisive. That’s what threatens the alumni who are critical. None that I have spoken to express racist or bigoted opinions about the superintendent or DEI; Only fear that a great school with a unique system will be lost. The VMI system has produced some really great people (and still does) and I’m sure most alumni want that to continue.

          I sincerely hope you have a happy Thanksgiving brother rat.

          1. Thanks, Mr. Chips. I think your description is spot on…as an ideal, but not as a reflection of reality. There are dozens and dozens of documented incidents of racism and sexism that have persisted at the school for decades, not just during the ratline, but during the remaining 7/8ths of one’s cadetship, and then even after graduation among alumni. You can peruse VMI’s Old Corps Spirit FB site, or head over to the app Jodel to see for yourself. There’s even a recent U. of Chicago Masters thesis on the racism that the first African American cadets suffered back in the late 60s that I’d be happy to supply to you. Now, if that’s all happening now and for decades, how can you realistically say that the ratline is a leveling factor? Perhaps it is to some extent for that 5 months, but afterwards societal ills and personal biases come right back to forefront. If that’s the case, how can VMI as an institution not address it? Failing to address it would be the ultimate betrayal of the VMI egalitarian ethos, which is why DEI–especially the idea that we’re not all born in the same place and that we have inherent biases that we should seek to resolve–is so critical for VMI. It actually fulfills the ideals of VMI. Can I ask, if you don’t mind, when you when through the ratline, and whether you’re a minority? I

          2. MisterChips Avatar

            I agree with you about the idealist part. I try to be an optimist (and realist) but I do understand the points you make. However, I think VMI comes closer to equality than you give credit for. We didn’t all get along but I never saw any prejudicial behavior because of skin color among brother rats or even between classes. VMI was an oasis of equality compared to the rest of the world I experienced. It certainly wasn’t perfect and didn’t live up to the ideal but it was close.
            In a way, the ratline was DEI before it had an abbreviation. Rats of every race, background and economic status came in (Diversity), were treated equally badly (Equality) and you are forced to develop class unity (Inclusive).
            This is a hard topic that needs to be discussed in the VMI community and the comments section doesn’t do it justice I appreciate being able to explore it with you and understand your perspective. I hope we get a chance to talk someday.
            I am caucasian and was a rat 1986-1987.

          3. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

          4. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I wrote you a detailed response, but somehow it didn’t show up. The overall point in my disappearing post was that, I think we should view DEI as a part of VMI’s commitment to egalitarianism. Despite the ideal you quite eloquently laid out, the reality is that biases and toxicity still manage to show up in the VMI experience. DEI, as a means to address inherent biases and societal inequality, is essential to support the egalitarian ideal.

        2. So you think that what they are doing at VMI will prepare them for future service in the Military? How do you know this? The problem is, there is only one race in the Army and that is soldier. My fellow soldier didn’t care what color I was as long as I did my job, took care of them and treated them with respect. DEI that is being taught at VMI put race in that decision making process as it was explained to me by my VMI Cadet and his roommate of color.

          1. I know this because it’s a policy of the Dept. of Defense, and has been under both R and D leadership.

          2. And that is why the Army and DOD is having a retention problem. Just because the DOD is pushing the divisive DEI policy (my kids and their soldiers laugh at the training they have to give and attend), doesn’t make it right and make it something that VMI should be doing. My mom was pretty smart when she told me that just because my older cousin was doing something, it was probably a good idea that I didn’t copy that.

          3. Sure, I don’t agree that it doesn’t make it right, but let’s go with your take for argument’s sake. You think it would be smart for VMI not to have such training when DoD, Fortune 500, the entire federal govt. have DEI programs? Seems like negligence if you’re not setting up your grads for success.

          4. There was a study done recently by an Ivy League business school (I wish I could remember who so I could cite it) that showed that the Fortune 500 companies that had instituted DEI programs. They found that the people that worked at these companies were less satisfied with their workplace than they were before the program was instituted and that the only business improvement was for the DEI business that was hired to help develop the program and not the company installing the program. I read your article in the Roanoke Times and I think Malcom X said it best. “A man who stands for nothing will fall for everything.” Going along is easy. Standing up for yourself is hard.

          5. That goes against most of findings on DEI in the Fortune 500, including famous studies by HBS and McKinsey. But even if that’s the case, you have to wonder if it’s a matter of having an outlet for expressing concerns, rather than it is an actual reflection of reduced wellbeing. It’s like the old adage, we never had any complaints until we had a complaint department. People were so much happier without one.

  9. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Let us return to the earlier discussion on ad hominem arguments. WaPo says: “The VMI alumni concerns must be dismissed because they are of Euro ancestry and are politically conservatives.” Neither of these are even established in evidence, but once asserted they make moot any and all of the complaints. That is an ad hominem argument (fallacy, actually.) “To the man.”

    OTOH, somebody somewhere is bound to have claimed Wins is happy with and committed to the heavy DEI emphasis because of his own African ancestry. An equally fallacious ad hominem.

    Everybody’s easy go to….

    1. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      Crap in, crap out!! Nice call.

  10. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    It’s possible this is simply business, on Shapira’s and the Washington Post’s part. The WaPo’s readers like to think of white Southerners, writ large, as racists. Shapira gives them racists. As Harry Selfridge said, the customer is always right. Give them what they want.

    1. Donald, as a graduate, it’s not only business. The issues are real. And have finally been brought into the sunlight.

      1. Donald Smith Avatar
        Donald Smith

        Or, the issues are being hyped to take advantage of the George Floyd tragedy and advance wokeism.

        Is VMI making leaders, or people who are easily triggered and think of themselves as victims? You can’t help but wonder.

        1. The only people easily triggered out of this whole “OMG, cadets are exposed to two hours of DEI every year” change, and who revel in victimization nonstop, are people who go on John Reid, PAC donors, the the people and post their screeds on this site. Everyone else is some degree of adult about the whole thing.

          1. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Sorry, no sale here. Who wants to follow someone who shrivels at the sight of a name on an arch? You folks look silly and easily triggered, and you brought it on yourselves. Take your medicine.

          2. Me folks? We won, Don. Check the scoreboard.

          3. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            What did you win? Again, you look silly and weak. People won’t say it directly to you, because (a) no one wants to get canceled and (b) it’s not worth their trouble. But they’ll conclude that you’re foolish. Who wants to be led by fools?

            Many people will conclude that you took advantage of a national tragedy (COVID and the George Floyd murder) and a weak governor. They’ll also conclude that, you really, really did have a pressing need to take down Jackson’s statue and sandblast his name off Old Barracks, for whatever reason.

            I hope this “victory” gives you what you need.

  11. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Yet another racist alumni, AND in face paint too. Must be a VMI thing…

    1. My favorite VMI guy ever, incidentally! Put a statue of Mel Brooks in front of the school.

  12. Not Today Avatar

    VMIs alumni are raking its reputation over the coals, one temper tantrum at a time. Most of the vocal folks are the age of my kids’ grandparents, out of touch. Kids these days don’t share their grandparents’ conspiracy-fueled culture war ethos, have no time/patience for it, and find it a HUGE turnoff. You want VMI to thrive? SHUT UP.

    Plenty of youth want to serve, just not under the banners geriatric bigots are flying. What is the saying? Once a man, twice a child.

    1. Donald Smith Avatar
      Donald Smith

      Remember, this is the same institution whose current administration felt compelled to sandblast Stonewall Jackson’s name off a National Historic Landmark. Presumably because the cadets and faculty of the “new” VMI couldn’t deal with walking under an arch bearing his name. We’re left to conclude that they found it too triggering.

      This makes VMI, in the words of the British, a “figure of fun.” Have you considered that maybe the VMI alumni are concerned that their alma mater is going weak and woke?

      I’ll admit to being a Stonewall Jackson fan—for good reason. He’s one of America’s greatest battlefield commanders, revered VMI and resisted his community in order to teach Sunday School to slaves. Yet, the “braintrust” at today’s VMI can’t even stand the sight of his name on Main Post.

      That makes VMI look silly. And weak.

      1. Not Today Avatar

        Get a frocking grip. Stonewall Jackson is dead. Your institution is dying. These kids don’t give a crap about your fee fees. VMIs weakness is its alumni’s massive fragility problem and overall acerbic nature. Any group that would have them as proud members is a turnoff to Gen Z. I am raising two milkids and follow this only as part of helping my kids choose their colleges. Y’all are a joke. I can send my kid to ODU on a full marine corps ride without any of this rancor or reputational risk. Stop living in the past!

        1. ” I can send my kid to ODU on a full marine corps ride without any of this rancor or reputational risk. Stop living in the past!” And this, ladies in gentlemen, is precisely where the regressive alums utterly fail in every argument they make. Who on earth are they convincing in order to “save” the school? Neo-confederates tend not to go to college.

          1. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “And this, ladies in gentlemen, is precisely where the regressive alums utterly fail in every argument they make.”

            Of course, Purdy, of course. You are 100% right. Oh, VMI grad, “Confederates” is a proper noun, which begins with a capital letter.

            I’m going to issue a challenge which I’m 100% sure you’ll shirk from: Write a column for BR with your complete name, which I’ve done countless times.

          2. Uhh, it’s not hard to find out who I am. I’ve written multiple columns for the RTD and Roanoke Times. I’m a ’99 grad of VMI. I’ve clearly upset you, so I’ll just wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I know you’re not a generally angry person.

          3. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Yes, you have crushed me. I am lying here in the fetal position, typing with one finger.

            Happy Thanksgiving to you. Write a column for BR. Prove that you’re not a silly, shallow-thinking person.

          4. I’m not trying to crush you, Don. I think you’re reasonable. But maybe too much in the nog tonight.

          5. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            I appreciate that you’re not trying to crush me—how generous of you! I simply question your ability to crush me. And, I suspect that I’m not the only one.

        2. Donald Smith Avatar
          Donald Smith

          What are “fee fees?” Will the Marine Corps teach them to use spellcheck?

          “Any group that would have them as proud members is a turnoff to Gen Z.”

          And you speak for Gen Z? Ok, then…

          1. Not Today Avatar

            Fee fees are young folk speak for feelings. If you spent more time around the under 30 set you’d know that.

            Sir, I graduated a college FAR superior to VMI and was horrified that my kid wanted to be a jarhead but such is my lot in life. My kids are empowered to lead; I follow and guide. You’d be freaking lucky to have this kid want to attend VMI but that would never happen b/c cavemen aren’t her type.

            Keep going. Turn off more families like us. Good luck.

          2. OMG…you’re making my freaking night…hahah, ok, off for beer!

          3. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Glad to do it. And, why don’t you link one of your best columns from other newspapers? Let us all see what you can do.

            I won’t be holding my breath.

          4. Roanoke Times republished one of my columns on Tue. Presumably they thought it was on point, given the latest news out of Lexington.

          5. Matt Adams Avatar

            He’s been sourced in one of Ian’s many articles bashing VMI.

          6. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Ummm…he just insulted VMI. (“Sir, I graduated a college FAR superior to VMI”). You seem awfully cool with that. I guess you don’t really care about your alma mater?

            You’re also rooting for someone who was “horrified” that heard his child wanted to be a United States Marine? OK, then.

          7. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            We’re saving this thread, BTW. Please, please keep writing.

          8. Not Today Avatar

            See, your bias is showing. Only a *he* could read you for filth like this? No, Sir. I’m a middle-aged MOM. My upset was because my DAUGHTER didn’t want to be a soldier like her grandfather and great-grandfather or a sailor like her dad.

          9. I didn’t take it as an insult. The fact is that there ARE far better schools than VMI. Obviously, and objectively. And, yes, I am totally cool with that. VMI is not Columbia, Stanford or Northwestern. And I understand why she might be disturbed that her kid wants to be a Marine…Marines do dangerous things (gob bless ’em), and for a parent, especially of a girl, that’s scary. It doesn’t mean that you don’t let them do it, it doesn’t mean you don’t respect the military, or love this country. It just means you’re a parent… I mean, do you have kids?

          10. I didn’t take it as an insult. The fact is that there ARE far better schools than VMI. Obviously, and objectively. And, yes, I am totally cool with that. VMI is not Columbia, Stanford or Northwestern. And I understand why she might be disturbed that her kid wants to be a Marine…Marines do dangerous things (gob bless ’em), and for a parent, especially of a girl, that’s scary. It doesn’t mean that you don’t let them do it, it doesn’t mean you don’t respect the military, or love this country. It just means you’re a parent… I mean, do you have kids?

          11. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “Sir, I graduated a college FAR superior to VMI.”

            1) What makes it superior to VMI? VMI is supposed to train leaders who will lead American soldiers into combat.
            2) WHAT university, pray tell? I’m a UVa graduate, and I’d NEVER claim to be “FAR superior” to Keydets.

          12. Not Today Avatar

            Top 25, nationwide. Review the USNews list and pick. What makes it superior? Besides the alumni base? The expectation that we not only lead (one time, in one role) but be relevant, lifelong learners who contribute to progress and growth at every age and stage of life. Nothing about VMI says lifelong learners.

          13. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “Top 25, nationwide.” OK, what is it? Please, share the name of your alma mater with us.

          14. Not Today Avatar

            Nope. No desire to be doxxed by Bacon’s minions.

          15. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Why, how convenient. But not suprising.

          16. Not Today Avatar

            I attended a top 25 school. I’m no dummy. Lol. You old guys are a hoot and remind me of my Dad, also a stubborn old coot. I run circles around him too. It’s why I’m his fave. 🤣

          17. Matt Adams Avatar

            That’s debatable given the bulk of your comments. They are nothing but a collection of ad hom attacks and a number of other fallacies.

          18. Not Today Avatar

            I attended a top 25 school. I’m no dummy. Lol. You old guys are a hoot and remind me of my Dad, also a stubborn old coot. I run circles around him too. It’s why I’m his fave. 🤣

          19. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            And, you never explained why your college is SO much better than VMI. So, here’s a second chance. I’m asking you directly, for the second time: WHY is your college (in y0ur words) “FAR superior to VMI?”

          20. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            My profession is teaching Army soldiers, most of whom are below 30. And have at least one combat tour. But…do go ahead.

          21. Not Today Avatar

            I will b/c as an instructor you see what they want you to see, not who they actually are or what they actually think. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you know them because of what they do for a living. You don’t. My spouse is an AD officer. You can’t bluff your way into credibility with me.

          22. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “My spouse is an AD officer.” As was I, with a combat tour.

            “You can’t bluff your way into credibility with me.” Let me assure you—I’m not troubled in the least if I have credibility with you.

          23. Not Today Avatar

            Bully for you. DH has done several. I’ve been married to him through it all. Glad we’re on the same page. Appeals to authority aren’t especially weighty. Might I redirect you toward the fundamental issue that the institution’s reputation among prospective students (and their families) is being dragged down by its alums?

          24. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Nice try. You insulted VMI, and won’t explain why. Can you?

          25. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “Might I redirect you toward the fundamental issue that the institution’s reputation among prospective students (and their families)”

            If the “prospective students (and their families)” are types who are easily triggered, and inclined to think of themselves as victims, then shouldn’t we weed these folks out? Shouldn’t those folks go to a school more geared to the needs of snowflakes, and people who are inclined to think of themselves as victims, and oppressed people?

            The world counts on the US for leadership. VMI is supposed to produce leaders.

          26. Not Today Avatar

            And therein lies the importance of LIFELONG learning. Effective leadership requires a measure of trust-building, psychological safety (hello Maslow), authenticity, and self-awareness (of current events, zeitgeist, language, and inflammatory triggers) that you seem to lack. If that’s representative of VMI grads, no wonder there hasn’t been a flag from the last 25 years of classes.

          27. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “If that’s representative of VMI grads, no onset there hasn’t been a flag from the last 25 years of classes.”

            What a word salad.

            I now have an idea of why you won’t tell us WHAT Top 25 university you “went” to. ANY Top 25 university would be embarrassed to see that sentence from a graduate. Of a “Top 25 University.”

          28. Not Today Avatar

            lol, riiiigght…more embarrassing than a military college without flag selections for 25 years??You’re killing me smalls (wait, did that pop culture reference go over your head too??). I do apologize that my text-type feature initially translated WONDER as ONSET. Most folks under 45 don’t confuse typos with brainpower. Tech is fickle that way. This has been highly entertaining but Thanksgiving calls. This year, I am especially grateful that my father demanded I be more assertive.

          29. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            I’ll stipulate that you are a graduate of a “top 25 university.” (If you, or your handlers, say so.) But I suspect that you know that you’re an embarrassment to that university, so you won’t share its name with us. Once again, what is your alma mater? Mine is UVa.

            Does your “Top 25” university pride itself on teaching its students about “pop culture references?” Can’t students learn that for a fraction of the cost by visiting YouTube? What unique value do the graduates of your “top 25 university” bring to America? (Can they burp the alphabet?)

            If you want “You’re Killing Me, Smalls” (in Latin, of course) to be the new motto of VMI, then say so. Like an adult. But, don’t be surprised if a critical mass of adults dismiss you as silly and shallow. Feel free to conclude the same about me.

          30. Not Today Avatar

            I’m not sharing my uni b/c, as I said, I don’t want to be doxxed/harassed/attacked. My friend was recently nominated for a judicial appointment and I don’t want any of us targeted for abuse based on ego grievances. Unfortunately, that’s a risk for outspoken women.

            My pop culture references come from being immersed in and living life outside your bubble, sir. Try it sometime. I parent teens. As for my adulthood, I’ve alternately worked, homeschooled and raised two honor-roll VA students in a prime district while my DH served this nation. I take a backseat to no man or woman, nor will I apologize for maintaining a tether on the pulse of everyday people and the junior sailors/families in DHs commands. Do better.

            You’re NOT helping VMI.

          31. Not Today Avatar

            Asked and answered. Let me use your preferred format to make it more clear. 1) Alumni power and position. Ours is superior and one of the top 10 universities for vets. 2) Lifelong learning. Our university prioritized it and it shows in the impact our grads have well into their senior years.

          32. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Um, no. (“Asked and answered.”) What is the name of your university? Mine is UVA. Can’t you answer? Clearly? In clear English?

            This is a basic question.

          33. Not Today Avatar

            I can and I won’t. See how easy that is? It’s irrelevant. You’re just being a nosy Nelly. Grow up.

          34. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            “It’s irrelevant.”

            No, it’s very relevant, because YOU raised it.

            “I attended a top 25 school. I’m no dummy.”
            “Top 25, nationwide. Review the USNews list and pick.”

            I’m starting to suspect that you won’t tell us, because you can’t.

          35. Not Today Avatar

            Make of my comments what you will. I suspect casual readers will be able to deduce the truth of my assertions. I’m not insecure enough to be bothered by what you think.

          36. Donald Smith Avatar
            Donald Smith

            Same here. I suspect that discerning readers will see the confusion and shallowness in your assertions, and conclude that any institution of higher learning that shares your way of thinking isn’t worthy of support.

          37. Not Today Avatar

            Bwahaaa… what did they say in your day? RIGHT ON?!

          38. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            You cannot win. You are arguing with those who actually believe you can “insult” a collection of buildings.

          39. Matt Adams Avatar

            ” Appeals to authority aren’t especially weighty.”

            Given that’s has been the bulk of your comments, you might do better to heed your own advice.

          40. Matt Adams Avatar

            And your spouse’s accomplishments and experiences are theirs not yours. However, thank you for outing yourself as a dependapotamus and of the more disheartening bred of someone who thinks they hold their spouse’s rank.

          41. Not Today Avatar

            My accomplishments have zero to do with the reputation of VMI but thanks for demonstrating, again, the seriousness of the reputation issues for the school. Alums devaluing their own school by disparaging military spouses, mothers, and working professionals (aka douchebaggery) is not helping.

          42. Matt Adams Avatar

            I didn’t say your accomplishments, now did it. A further illustration as to your inability and to read, I can only presume.

            “Alums devaluing their own school by disparaging military spouses, mothers, and working professionals (aka douchebaggery) is not helping.”

            Who said I was an Alum?

            Now you’re acting like a straight up dependapotamus, a creature all of us who have served have had to endure.

            I also find it highly ironic that you’re complaining about “devaluing” you while using an ad hom attacks. I’d say more like a bottom 25 University and did not graduate, perhaps you went for you MRS. Degree.

          43. Not Today Avatar

            Happy Thanksgiving, may you be loved enough to enjoy a well-seasoned meal.🥳

          44. Matt Adams Avatar

            “Happy Thanksgiving, may you be loved enough to enjoy a well-seasoned meal.🥳”

            Oh lovely, backhand compliments now.

            How very adult of you, dependa.

          45. Matt Adams Avatar

            “Happy Thanksgiving, may you be loved enough to enjoy a well-seasoned meal.🥳”

            Oh lovely, backhand compliments now.

            How very adult of you, dependa.

        3. Matt Adams Avatar

          Just for your edification if you’re going to send you children to ODU on a full ride, you might want to learn Marine Corps is a proper noun. Just a tip..

    2. Thank you!

  13. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Check yourselves. Was it all racist, or not?

  14. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    I understand why so many VMI cadets and alumni value the Rat Line experience, and the intense bonding that VMI life offers. It creates a tight-knit corps of people who stay tightly-knit through life. I think that’s great—for them.

    But, do Virginia taxpayers really need to fund that? Especially when we can’t find enough money to pay police, teachers and nurses?

    Nowadays, Virginia doesn’t need a combat-ready militia. It has no hostile forces on its borders. There’s no real threat of an insurrection. If there’s an out-of-control riot, there are high-quality brigades of the National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division in the state. If they need help, there are two Army and one Marine active-duty divisions, plus a full Army corps headquarters and support structure, in neighboring states (North Carolina and Tennessee.) Our active-duty military services get all the officers they need from the service academies, ROTC and Officer Candidate Schools.

    I’ll stipulate that VMI provides a wonderful, life-enriching experience for its graduates. I support the efforts to fight wokeism there. But, if it comes to a choice between paying for more teachers and paying to create an elite corps of future leaders—someone needs to tell us why, in today’s day and age, we need to prioritize creating elite leaders over hiring more cops and teachers. What does VMI give us that we can’t already get from UVa, West Point and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets?

  15. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Rules for the VMI alumni whinge. These also apply to the Jefferson Council and other old white alumni groups.

  16. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    The Spirit of VMI PAC, and others who oppose wokeism at VMI, are not doing themselves any favors by not talking to Ian Shapira. He is going to write his articles, and people (especially progressives and wokeists) are going to read them.

    Former Senator Alan Simpson said that an allegation unchallenged is an allegation believed. By not talking to Shapira, the MSM can justify ignoring those who feel that wokeism and hypersensitivity to cadet/faculty feelings is weakening VMI.

    There are ways to neuter and disarm aggressive, biased reporting and editing. Record the whole interview. Then, if the reporter and editor edit the story in a way that’s obviously intended to make you look bad, release your recording. Case in point: a few years ago, Katie Couric interviewed some 2A supporters. Her story was deceptively edited to make the interviewees look bad. Unfortunately for Couric, the interviews had recorded the entire interview and they released the recording. Couric was exposed, and her reputation was damaged.

    If you think Congress’ approval ratings are bad, look at the media’s. A critical mass, if not a majority, of Americans think the MSM is progressive and woke. So, if the MSM treats you in an unprofessional, progressive and woke manner, and you can prove that to the public, it will be the MSM that suffers, not you.

    Many of y’all are undoubtedly sick of my Stonewall Jackson stories. But I have yet to hear any of the Jackson critics explain why modern-day cadets and faculty were unable to put Jackson’s service to Virginia and ownership of slaves in context with all the positives about him, and the fact that he lived in different times with different values. No one’s been able (or willing) to explain why future leaders, and the college faculty who teach them, were so triggered that removing Jackson’s statue wasn’t enough, removing his name from the chapel wasn’t enough—they absolutely had to sandblast his name off a National Historic Landmark (Old Barracks).

    Good leaders are able to look at the big picture. At this point, the obvious conclusion is that the wokeists know their treatment of Jackson’s legacy made them look silly, shallow and petty, and they’re hoping that no one will point it out. (I’m sure they’re also hoping that Virginians won’t ask themselves if they want to have a state-supported woke military college. Perhaps the answer is yes, but I doubt it.)

    (For anyone who thinks I’m belaboring this point—I am! But, the WaPo showed us in 2006 that belaboring a point can be effective. It wrote stories about George Allen’s “macaca” comment for months, in all sections of the paper, to keep it in the public eye, keep Allen on the defensive and tarnish his image. It worked; Allen lost his reelection. If it’s good enough for Ian Shapira’s paper, it’s good enough for me!)

    The Spirit of VMI PAC is now entering the same territory. The Post, and many of Wins’ supporters, assert that the opposition to the changes at VMI is rooted in racism and antiquated thinking. If those allegations remain unchallenged, many WaPo readers (and many others) will presume they have merit. I understand that talking to Ian Shapira is like playing a game in your opponent’s home stadium—you are at a disadvantage. But visiting teams win games and series all the time. You just have to play smart.

  17. Ruckweiler Avatar

    Is anyone really expecting anything but this kind of innuendo from, as Mark Levin calls them, “The Washington Compost” and their hack writers? The alumni do have legitimate concerns but, gasp, the Superintendent is black!!! As lefties do, blacks are always portrayed as wrongly under attack and helpless needing defense and trivializing writing to “help.”

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