Tag Archives: Ann McLean

The Fascists Next Door

Displaying dangerous fascistic tendencies… Photo credit: DailySIgnal

by Ann Mclean

Want more evidence that the University of Virginia has become an impermeable thought bubble where people can say the craziest things without fear of contradiction? Consider this: Two University of Virginia professors —Manuela Achilles and Kyrill Kunakhovich — taught a history course this spring that portrays American conservatives as fascists. They weren’t being hyperbolic. They really meant it.

In their analysis, the wellspring of fascism is not worship of the all-powerful, totalitarian state — which conservatives totally reject — but the traditional American virtues of family and patriotism.

I first learned of this class from a young friend of mine. Here is her description: 

Recently, I enrolled in a fascism class thinking it would be a great way to weed through the constant accusations that politicians make about who is fascist and who is not. The class started out great. We studied Hitler and Mussolini and other fascisms in Europe, then moved to Asia to look at Japanism, but the more the course progressed, the more I was confused about what fascism actually is. My professors chose to leave fascism undefined and allow each student to come to their own conclusion. That seems pretty reasonable, right? I thought so, too. Continue reading

Packing the UVa Law School Faculty

Risa Goluboff, dean of the University of Virginia Law School

by Ann McLean

Earlier this week UVA Today touted the addition of 17 high-profile professors — packed with former U.S. Supreme Court clerks, Rhodes Scholars, and even a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship genius grant recipient — to the University of Virginia Law School.

“Our new and incoming faculty are either already academic superstars or superstars in the making,” said Dean Risa Goluboff. They are “highly influential voices in their fields whose scholarship will have an impact at UVA Law, both inside and outside of the classroom, and well beyond it.”

The law school’s run of prestigious hires, who include nine women and seven “people of color,” have sparked envious praise on Twitter, gushes the article, written by Eric Williamson, associate director of communications for the law school. “I feel like they must be amassing this incredibly all star faculty for a reason,” one woman is quoted as tweeting. “A new Marvel series? Avengers: Endgame 2?”

The article omitted one salient fact of interest to the broader UVa community — there is no intellectual diversity in the group. Every new hire tilts to the left ideologically. There’s not a conservative among them. Continue reading

Richmond Ballet: From Celebrating the Sublime to Defining the Dysfunctional


by Ann McLean

Who does not love “The Nutcracker” performance by the Richmond Ballet at Christmas? The beautiful costumes and magnificent stage sets, the grace of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara, the drama of the Mouse King and the delightful vision of the prince and princess traveling in the sleigh together, are visions many look forward to experiencing. White tulle tutus,  dancers on “point,” a hand held just so…a lift, a twirl, a gracefully held arm… the precision and careful movements of classical ballet transport the viewer out of the mundane to a place where the human spirit can soar with possibility.

Human potential — a vision of the goodness and promise of mankind — is on view with classical ballet. Viewers can enjoy the vocabulary of the practiced movements, beautiful set designs, and the carefully choreographed arrangements. Classical ballet is a transformative experience. Nothing quite heals from the drudgery of a long winter like the ballet, especially when combined with the musical arrangements and skill of Pytor Tchaikovsky.

So, it was with tulle and tutus in mind that I attended the Ballet’s February 18th Studio Series performance. After nearly a year of COVID restrictions, social distancing, masking diktats, sheltering at home, and disappointingly small Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, I needed the ballet. The fall production had, sadly, featured only one “classical” piece — but that magnificent opening dance had lingered in my memory for months. The contemporary pieces, though athletic and skillfully performed, did not transport the spirit in the same way. Continue reading