by Larry Houseworth
Charlie Beckett of the London School of Economics addressed journalism’s turn to emotionalism in a talk given at the 2015 Science Festival in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England (“How journalism is turning emotional and what that might mean for news.”) He stated, “the value of objective journalism is the idea that journalism can attempt to give an account that is balanced, fact-based and that gives a fair summary not just of what has happened but the context around it without the distortion of the journalist’s own feelings.”
Beckett acknowledged there is a place for tempered emotion. He said, “Making a drama of a crisis has always been part of mass media. The theatre of news is as old as broadcast journalism. … If news does not get your attention, if you do not find it interesting, amusing, frightening or uplifting than you are less likely to take notice.”
The balance of emotion and objectivity “can only be an aspiration,” he conceded. “All journalists are human and have different factors that shape their worldview and their understanding of particular circumstances. … By selecting a story for reporting you have made a choice. The facts that you omit, as well as those you include, are selective.”
To validate Beckett’s opinion, we need look no further than the media’s recent treatment of the Virginia Military Institute where the omission of relevant facts has colored the coverage. Continue reading
Bacon’s Rebellion publishes here a thought piece by University Professor Allan C. Stam, a professor of politics and public policy at the University of Virginia. Although the column describes research universities generally, Stam says that his critique applies to Virginia research universities and the University of Virginia. JAB
by Allan C. Stam
Large research universities have evolved into amalgamations of housing complexes, food service industries, semi-pro sports franchises, health systems, research enterprises, vocational training centers, and education systems. The administrative design of complex universities is such that they are nearly incapable of being efficiently managed. Running a modern research university is a bit like running a small city absent democratic accountability. Both jobs are growing more complex with layers of byzantine regulations often overwhelming their leaders.
Both types of organizations, universities and city management, are also inherently political which today means increasing polarization and conflict. Political systems distribute resources and services not by market means, but instead by power-based mechanisms. At the same time as the administrative burdens in our universities rises, they have, like most large cities, become single-party systems.
The combination of these two challenges: single-party rule combined with unmanageable complexity is leading universities down an unfortunate road. So-called administrative bloat is a direct consequence of excessive administrative complexity. Ideological intolerance and the stifling of free speech and thought is the consequence of universities’ emergent political monoculture. The combination of these two factors has created tremendous risks for the future of the American research university. Continue reading
by Jock Yellott
It seems there is a vein of quartz underground in Buckingham County sparkling with gold. The General Assembly almost prohibited mining it, but then backed off. This time.
A string of historic gold mines going back to the 19th Century appear as red dots on the county geological survey map like chigger bites on the skin of the land. Exploratory drilling by a Canadian company, Aston Bay Holdings, found significant new quantities of gold there.
From about the depth of a water well — 150 to 300 feet– Aston Bay’s diamond drills pulled up broken columns of translucent white quartz flecked with yellow metal. They drilled and drilled again for about 200 yards, two dozen holes, rarely drilling without finding more quartz glinting with gold. Continue reading
by Paula Harkins
A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my employer requiring me to report my vaccine status. Ummmm… what?!?
Let’s back up a moment. Since March 2019, I have been working from my home in Northern Virginia for a D.C. government contractor. I have limited my visits with friends, family, and the public. I had turned off the news. I had reduced my exposure to social media.
I am a fitness fan, so shortly after my employer went to a mass telework environment, I decided to stand up and lead a #INTHISTOGETHER program to encourage employees to keep moving in a pandemic environment, whether that was on a treadmill or on a hiking trail and to share experiences and pictures. We had over 800 participants! Folks stayed active, safely. This was my way of turning a lemon into lemonade. I was able to do something positive in a world that was struggling to feel and be “normal.”
Let’s fast forward to March 2020. Vaccines became available. I wasn’t sure about someone injecting me with a vaccine that had not gone through full trials, but I considered the odds and how it might affect me and the ones I love and decided to get vaccinated. My choice. Continue reading
By Paula Harkins
Yesterday I was invited to join an advisory panel for a Women in Leadership course hosted by a university in Washington, D.C. Excited to learn about the possibilities, I read up on the course only to find the words, “From the ongoing battle for equal rights to the breaking of barriers on the workplace, women face complex issues in a dynamic environment that has been dominated by men for centuries.”
At that point my excitement ended. Let me explain.
Obviously, I am a w0man. I advocate for women in leadership roles, and I mentor young women. I urge my mentees to lean in, know their value, and to speak up about their value. What I don’t understand is why women feel it necessary to include rhetoric on male domination in the workplace and leadership. Let’s look at some stats. Continue reading
by Elizabeth Schultz
After claiming endlessly that Critical Race Theory (CRT) does not exist, or that it is not being ‘taught’ in schools, the two largest teachers’ unions – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, funded with teachers’ dues, – finally admitted they support it. In fact, AFT is so committed to CRT that the union announced a multi-million dollar legal fund to protect those who teach it to students.
In doing so, the unions confirmed, despite all the protestations otherwise, what parents already know: Critical Race Theory has been embedded into compulsory professional training for teachers and classroom practices across the country.
The NEA recently resolved to “oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.” Not to be outdone, the AFT headlined chief CRT advocate, Ibram X. Kendi, and hosted curated sessions, such as “Racial Diversity and White Culture: Using Picture Books for Anti-Racist Teaching”, and “Race, Racism and History: We Need to Talk.”
These unions are not alone, as 5,000 teachers pledged to continue teaching CRT this year. They not only know that CRT is in the schools, they embrace it. In fact, they have participated in purging and rewriting curriculum for years. Continue reading
by F. Vincent Vernuccio
Local government leaders are negotiating with union executives who have not been officially recognized by public employees they claim to represent.
Counties in northern Virginia are taking steps to allow public sector collective bargaining. But they are doing it with the support of union executives – not a groundswell of voter or public employee support. Continue reading
by Jim Kindig
My 3rd great grandfather came to Augusta County in the 1820s, cleared land and established crops on land that is still in our family. Several of my neighbors could tell similar stories. We love farming, but it’s a hard life. Incredible increases in productivity have kept agricultural commodity prices depressed for 80 years. To keep up with the latest and greatest agricultural machinery and technology, farmers have borrowed heavily, using their ancestral lands as collateral. One or two bad years, and they go broke. Many see no way out of their cycle of indebtedness.
Today there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and that light comes from the sun. Large-scale solar farms offer landowners a low-risk means to keep their farm land. They can lease acreage to a solar developer for a guaranteed income over 25 years. At the end of the lease, they can easily convert the land back to agricultural production with no degradation of soil quality or health. Continue reading
Here follows the transcript of an entirely fictional videoconference between University of Virginia President Jim Ryan and his Executive Cabinet. The author is not intending to be satirical. He is illuminating the issues that any honest effort to implement a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion agenda will encounter. — JAB
by Jon Jewett
President Ryan: I have called this meeting to address the most important problem facing the University today — systemic racism. It is imperative that we make significant progress towards a solution during the 2021-22 academic year. In view of their critical roles in determining how we as a university address this problem, I have asked Greg Roberts, Dean of Admissions, Ian Baucom, Dean of Arts and Sciences. Risa Goluboff, Dean of the Law School, and David Wilkes, Dean of the School of Medicine, to join us.
I trust that by now you have all read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. If not, you should. Make that “must.’ Kendi’s basic message can be summed up as “No More Excuses.” We all know that all races are equal. Yet there are huge disparities between whites and blacks in this country, and in this University. Supposedly we have been working to eliminate those disparities at least since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, but they have barely changed over the last 50 years. What we have been doing has simply not worked, and it is time to recognize that reality. Kevin McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Partnerships, will first explain what our goals must be if we are to have an anti-racist university, and then I will call on others to explain how we will achieve those goals. Kevin? Continue reading
by Carmen Villani
At the conclusion of sporting events, the Corps of Cadets, players, and alumni join as one in singing the VMI Doxology. It ends with – “God Bless our team and V-M-I!”
During its nearly 182-year history, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) has aligned itself with Judeo-Christian values, emphasizing character and servant leadership.
God calls upon us to not be of this world, yet the VMI leadership is making changes to align VMI with the world. Driven by the mantra of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” “Don’t do ordinary” is on the verge of becoming “We do ordinary.” Continue reading
Robert E. Lee statue on Richmond’s Monument Ave. Photo credit: Jay Paul/Reuters.
by Catesby Leigh
After George Floyd’s fatally brutal arrest, dozens of Confederate monuments were banished from civic settings throughout the South. And their ranks were further thinned last weekend, when Charlottesville’s equestrian statues to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were finally hoisted off their pedestals after a prolonged legal battle.
But the fate of what may be the most important Confederate statue of all has yet to be determined. The magnificent equestrian tribute to Lee on Richmond’s Monument Avenue — the old Confederate capital’s principal venue for Lost Cause commemoration — is still standing. Its majestically rusticated granite pedestal, 40 feet tall, was hideously defaced with obscenity-laced graffiti during last year’s Black Lives Matter–Antifa agitation. Rings of graffitied jersey barriers and chain-link fencing eight feet high now gird the monument, situated on a turfed circle 200 feet wide. Despite some splashes of paint, the bronze statue itself appears undamaged, and its handsome silhouette, when viewed from a distance, is unimpaired. Continue reading
Stay in step…. Or else.
TO: The President, the College Board, the Faculty, the Staff, and the Constituents of Northern Virginia Community College
FROM: Dr. A Schuhart (DACCE), Professor of English, NVCC-Annandale
RE: Letter of Dissent
After completing the required DEI training, it is clear to me that the claims of this training are a direct expression of Critical Race Theory (CRT). There is also absolutely no question that CRT is a scholarly claim, not an objective truth; therefore, it is a tentative, constructed truth about which individual Faculty may rightly and legally have professional disagreement, and whose construction and communication is governed by principles of academic discourse; and, that among these principles are:
- the individual scholar’s right to determine the truth of any scholarly claim independently,
- and, that truth is created through democratic consensus, and it cannot be imposed through process or force or law without invalidating the claim itself, nor can a scholar be required to enact such a truth against individual belief or conscience without infringing on that right of independent evaluation;
- and, that the majority opinion cannot impose its view upon the minority using institutional process or force or law, and that the principle of Academic Freedom specifically and intentionally protects minority opinion in every scholarly claim;
- and, that these rights are asserted not for the scholar alone, but also for the Citizens in our classes. Continue reading
Lord Thomas Fairfax
by John Thomson
Present-day controversies on renaming institutions are often about whether we judge the worth of our historical figures by the singular issue of slave-owning.
One particular controversy needs a referee to call a foul: over a historian’s error in a biography of the English lord, Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693-1781).
Fairfax lived at Greenway Court, one mile from White Post, Virginia. He had moved from England to manage 5 million acres of an inherited land grant. He resided here, became a part of local history, and was buried in Winchester.
Several decades after the biography was published, the error was unearthed and recently used to justify effacing his name from the local 50-year-old Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC). Continue reading
Map of South America showing the meridian dividing the new world in Pope Alexander VI’s papal bull.
The University of Virginia in recent years has devoted considerable resources to an excavation of unpleasant aspects of its past, from slavery and Jim Crow to the dispossession of land from the Monacan Indians. Other than the controversy over Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with his slave Sally Hemings, the scholarly findings have rarely been disputed. Perhaps this scholarship warrants a closer look.
Steve Adkins, an amateur historian who claims 25,000 hours of independent study, alleges several factual errors in the Encyclopedia Virginia maintained by UVa as well as UVa professor Jeffrey Hantman’s book, “Monacan Millennium.” In the narrative below, he describes the failure of Hantman, the University of Virginia Press, and university authorities to correct them. His account delves into historical minutiae that may enthrall only antiquarians. But his charge that UVa humanities and social sciences are afflicted with “an arrogant facts-be-damned, circle-the-wagons culture” may be of interest to a wider audience. — JAB
The loss of academic freedom on American campuses has been accompanied by the erosion of academic rigor. I offer this outsider’s glimpse.
by Gilbert Piddington
Perhaps in more ways than any school in the world, Cadets at the Virginia Military Institute are all treated equally and the same in a very structured and systemic environment. Let me explain.
The VMI Honor Code, “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do,” applies equally to all Cadets. One example, no cheating means that all cadets compete fairly on all tests and assignments. This is one of many examples of systemic and structural equality, fairness, and impartiality at the Institute.
Cadets come from many different states and countries, schools, families, backgrounds, religions, nationalities, and financial circumstances. Some are poor and some are rich. Some have expensive cars and beautiful clothes … at home, but not at VMI. Cadets differentiate themselves through their character and personality, academic, military, and athletic achievements. Like other colleges, VMI offers many academic majors, each with its own unique curriculum; but nearly everything else in Cadet life is the same, equal, fair, and impartial. Continue reading