The “Rat Pack” Makes the Point

By Peter Galuszka

On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman took the historically enormous step of integrating the U.S. Armed Forces. The Virginia Military Institute, which prides itself on its warrior panache, didn’t get around to that until 1968 and even today there are serious questions about racism at the state-supported school.

The past few days have seen story after story about charges of widespread racism at the school that led to Gov. Ralph Northam, a VMI graduate, ordering an investigation. The school’s superintendent, an 80-year-old retired four-star Army general has resigned.

The Washington Post got big play for its investigative report about the atmosphere in Lexington, where the school is located. Actually, the Roanoke Times first had a story this summer that Black alumni were concerned that racism was getting out of hand. This morning, the Post has a story about anonymous posts that VMI students apparently made on Jodel, a Website.

If anything, the posts prove the media’s point. Black athletes are referred to insultingly as “permits” because they are excused from normal military exercise because they work out in sports. They are said to be at VMI because they are not good enough at sports to get into a better college.

It goes on. A gay female cadet, a track runner, left because she couldn’t take the abuse for her gender identification (yes, gay women can be in the military). VMI didn’t bother to allow women as students until forced to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1990s. And who says the place isn’t run by a bunch of entitled white guys?

Even a Washington Post reporter who has covered the story has been called a “Soy Boy,” a term used on white supremacist Web sites to imply a less-than masculine man. Regretfully, a similar insult appeared yesterday on Bacon’s Rebellion.

This is the second Virginia school to get into disputes about racism in the past months. A senior at the University of Virginia was subjected to insults of all sorts, including some on this blog, because she used a cuss word on a sign on her dorm door. The woman, who apparently is a star student and works part time as an Emergency Medical Technician, is a Pakistani-American. She endured slights of all types, including that she needs to go back to her home place or otherwise leave UVa.

One rude commenter said she should marry someone from ISIS, the radical Muslim group. I was truly disappointed with the comments at BR on the topic and was embarrassed to be associated with it. After all, this is 2020, not 1955. Naturally, I will be called out by one of the BR White Guys for helping destroy Western Civilization.

Not to be judgmental, but the problems at VMI are more portentous. Although VMUI cadets play at being soldiers, they aren’t really, and a little more than half go on to serve in the military.

The last thing we need right now is to have an officer with an attitude insult a member of the Armed Forces due to race, sex or sexual gender. That probably wouldn’t go well in combat. I remember the stories by cousin told me. He became an Army lieutenant after graduating from UVa in 1966. Racism in the military was really bad then. And there was a war on.

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24 responses to “The “Rat Pack” Makes the Point

  1. How “woke” of you Peter. Geeze. Get your flak jacket on.!!!

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      I “woke” a bit early this morning Mr. Larry. My beagle puppy George found his howling voice about 4:30 a.m. Raccoons were pillaging my trash cans again. I feel like a zombie. I turned George loose on those racoons and by god if he didn’t tree both of them.

  2. I was in Vietnam in 1968 and, yes, racism was prevalent. Fragging was the
    worst example, I recall. In that, black infantryman who disliked their commanding officers would shoot them while their unit was in a fire fight with the enemy. Happened a lot.

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    “Like activists shopping for grievances to feed their unquenchable fury.” From Jock Yollett. Institutions such as VMI and UVA are highly vulnerable low hanging fruit. Will it be possible to address the grievances and the fury with a positive outcome in the end?

  4. Baconator with extra cheese

    I agree. Virginia should defund any and all institutions that did not instantly desegregate.
    This will save me lots of tax money!
    A boy can only dream….

  5. VMI is famous for its special vocabulary, and my recollection is the “permit” tag was applied to more than just Black athletes and didn’t just appear with desegregation. If not that term, there was another nickname for athletes exempt from military duties. But as they say in testimony, that is subject to correction by somebody more directly familiar. I last wrote about the special vocubulary in the late 70s….stoop, sinks, running the block, mink, dyke (do they still use THAT one?)

    Time for a remake?

    • Mr. Haner,

      The term “permit rat” has long been associated with “rats” participating in athletic events in lieu of traditional military training. It is NOT a systemic racist term. When I was a “rat”, I had four roommates on “permit”, thus often leaving me alone in my room to face alone the wrath of upperclassmen. I had always felt it amazing, having graduated public high school in Virginia just a few years after desegregation in my locality, with all of that racial tension, that going to VMI was completely devoid of racial tension. I wonder now if I have lived in an alternate universe.

  6. Where to start, where to start.

    VMI is a public military college. It is not a Service Academy, it has no affiliation with the Military, and the relationship you’re attempting between it FPOTUS Truman’s EO 9981 isn’t even in existence. That EO had zero effect on VMI, desegregation would been a BOT’s and state decision.

    VMI uses ROTC to Commission Cadets, those programs are Cadet Command and as such they are required all the same training that someone who attends VTech and is in ROTC. That criteria is again different from all Service Academies.

    Since you haven’t bothered to research that I won’t even touch the following two paragraphs.

    You want to bash them for women, although I’m not sure what being LGBT has to do with the allowing of women in the University. Your very own ala ma mater, allowed, disallowed and reallowed women in a span of 70 years (1980 was when full coeducational finally, again).

    “Even a Washington Post reporter who has covered the story has been called a “Soy Boy,” a term used on white supremacist Web sites to imply a less-than masculine man. Regretfully, a similar insult appeared yesterday on Bacon’s Rebellion.”

    Soyboy was coined on 4chan, which is a bunch of anti-social individuals hanging out in their parents basements rambling about conspiracies’ theories or promoting spoofs (that some individuals fall for). While I’m certain that some are “white supremacist’s” that’s not a conclusion found in evidence. The evidence is that the patrons of it will never get laid.

    “This is the second Virginia school to get into disputes about racism in the past months. A senior at the University of Virginia was subjected to insults of all sorts, including some on this blog, because she used a cuss word on a sign on her dorm door. The woman, who apparently is a star student and works part time as an Emergency Medical Technician, is a Pakistani-American. She endured slights of all types, including that she needs to go back to her home place or otherwise leave UVa.”

    That is complete and utter reimagining of the events that took place. Said student was mad that her lawn room couldn’t accommodate a temporary disability (which they offered her alternative lodging). She proceeded to make that about oppression, I’m rather certain she would tell you to f’ yourself if she met you too (only for the fact that you attended Georgetown Prep, you oppressor).

    “One rude commenter said she should marry someone from ISIS, the radical Muslim group. I was truly disappointed with the comments at BR on the topic and was embarrassed to be associated with it. After all, this is 2020, not 1955. Naturally, I will be called out by one of the BR White Guys for helping destroy Western Civilization.”

    Context, Peter, context. The poster explained their reasoning and it wasn’t based in “bigotry” which in your implication.

    “Not to be judgmental, but the problems at VMI are more portentous. Although VMUI cadets play at being soldiers, they aren’t really, and a little more than half go on to serve in the military.”

    I just honestly don’t know how to respond to that, the training that is undertaken regardless of Commission isn’t playing. The prospect of leading peoples son’s and daughter’s into harms way is a very dauting task (something to which you have zero understanding). As someone who Commissioned via ROTC, I’m aghast that someone who claims to be inclusive and understand is so completely tone deaf and unaware.

    (PS, your fathers service conveyed you nothing, before you bring it up. That just made you a dependa).

    “The last thing we need right now is to have an officer with an attitude insult a member of the Armed Forces due to race, sex or sexual gender. That probably wouldn’t go well in combat. I remember the stories by cousin told me. He became an Army lieutenant after graduating from UVa in 1966. Racism in the military was really bad then. And there was a war on”

    “”The last thing we need right now is to have an officer with an attitude insult a member of the Armed Forces due to race, sex or sexual gender.”

    In Combat we don’t care about who, what or where your from as long as you cover my six and put rounds down range.

    Your “cousins” story is anecdotal and doesn’t make fact, learn the difference.

    They tell their story, they do not speak for all.

    Larry,

    We don’t use “flak jackets” they are heavy, pointless and outed dated in the 70’s for the soft armor we use today (thanks, DuPont Dr. Kwolek you rocked).

    • “That is complete and utter reimagining of the events that took place. Said student was mad that her lawn room couldn’t accommodate a temporary disability (which they offered her alternative lodging). She proceeded to make that about oppression …”

      That is exactly right. UVa wouldn’t install a ramp for the spoiled little asshat so she threw a hissy-fit.

  7. Steve: Great art!
    Yes, UVA and VMI are low hanging fruit. That is why Rolling Stone chose UVA, given its reputation as a prestigious place and a party school. I still don’t see what the big deal is about the young woman and the curse word. Why can’t the school just get her help for her foot?

    • Silly movie, but I also had an uncle who went there…

      Seriously, once I finally read her rant in the Cavalier Daily, were there not strong parallels with the complaints about a hostile and racist environment to those raised by the VMI cadets? I re-read the Post piece. Do you give her less credence than them? Did you see the story today in the RTD about Maggie Walker and the complaints from its Black students and alums? Do you doubt similar issues could be raised at JMU, Tech, or ODU?

  8. Don’t know about JMU, ODU, etc. I used to string about HBCUs for Diverse Issues in Higher Education so I reported on Virginia State, Norfolk State, Howard, Spellman and even a little prep school in North Carolina that Dizzy Gillespie attended.
    As I have said, I fail to see the big deal about UVA and the injured senior. I see a lot of problems with VMI since their grads could end up leading troops in combat. Some of my money pays for VMI (as I would pay for the Citadel as a South Carolina resident or Norwich in Vermont. (Gee, I guess I know that these are not USMA, Annapolis etc.)
    The U.S. military has strict rules about putting out abusive comments and no longer allows flying the Confederate flag. I’ll put something on Bacon’s predictable blog if I find the time.

    • Peter,

      “The U.S. military has strict rules about putting out abusive comments and no longer allows flying the Confederate flag. I’ll put something on Bacon’s predictable blog if I find the time.”

      That has about nothing to do with my comment, congrats on the obfuscation.

      “(Gee, I guess I know that these are not USMA, Annapolis etc.)”

      Clearly you did not, as you implied FPOTUS Truman’s EO would’ve had any barring on VMI acceptance.

  9. Steve, I also did a story on Confederate emblems at Washington & Lee for for The Chronicle of Higher Education

  10. I’m as white bread as white bread gets, and I was called a worthless permit. So was my father, although the variation in that day was “permit worm.” I’m sure my grandfather was called something similar in the 1940s when he was there.

    Nice to know reporters are careful to get the facts straight before they publish, and are mindful of the serious lack of public trust in media.

    • I was a dot and or cadidiot for most of my education in ROTC. It’s rather obvious that some people commenting on items have been endured them, themselves.

  11. Matt Adams,
    You have no idea what I know and do not know. As a matter of fact, my former brother in law went to Annapolis. Is it okay if I email you my resume? You seem so intent on taking me apart, you’d have plenty of ammunition. You’re a lawyer, right? Well stop making all of these little lawyerly arguments. I have been dealing with lawyers for years and actually like some of them. Otherwise, I’ll just skip reading your comments. It’s not like I am getting paid for this. If I do not meet your standards. Fine,. Read someone else.

    • Peter,

      Full stop. You attended Georgetown Prep and Tufts, period. Your brother-in-law, cousin and your fathers experience service are not your own and do not constitute knowledge that keydet and myself personally experienced.

      I don’t need your resume, it’s on linkined in and there isn’t any ROTC or service academy listed on it, nor is there any Military experience.

      I’m an Electrical Engineering who was also a Commissioned Officer in the Army. Two things that you would’ve gathered if you’d read a single one of my posts without jumping to an erroneous conclusion.

      “Otherwise, I’ll just skip reading your comments. It’s not like I am getting paid for this. If I do not meet your standards. Fine,. Read someone else.”

      You clearly don’t read what I write anyway, given your recent statements. If you do not wish to have someone critique your writing, I suggest not doing it in a public forum. If you do not wish for me to point out your inaccuracies, do not make said inaccuracies.

  12. This information came from the Post quoting a Black alumnus, if I recall.

  13. Also, please keep in mind that blogging is opinion combined with aggregating other sources. I do not confirm most if this stuff. I would if this were a straight reporting job. It isn’t and I get no pay for this. I just do not have the time or resources to confirm major news outlets. If you have a problem with that, just don’t read me. No matter to me.

  14. Sure, I can stop reading your posts, but the problem is other people will continue to read them while you take the most racially offensive interpretation of any given aspect of VMI.

    You wonder why VMI might bristle at an outside investigation? This is why. It’s a strange place that takes years to understand, but people who have probably never spent more than a few hours on post are going to blather on.

  15. Keydet,
    If VMI were a private college I really would not care. Nor do I care if you read my posts. I have no idea who you are anyway. At least I put my name out front and face the music (“Dixie?”)

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