by James A. Bacon
Virginia Military Institute’s chief diversity officer, Jamica Love, has resigned nearly two years after taking on the job of implementing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the military institute.
While Superintendent Cedric T. Wins noted that Love served with distinction and professionalism, VMI gave no reason for her resignation. She has issued no statement and turned down an interview request.
My purpose in writing about Love’s resignation is not to highlight her role in the ongoing controversy over DEI at VMI — my sense is that she did exactly what was expected of her — but to explore how The Washington Post has framed her departure. Writer Ian Shapira takes the opportunity once again to recite the litany of racism allegations against VMI and cast the controversy as a good guys/bad guys melodrama with the black hats worn by “a political action committee of mostly White conservative graduates called The Spirit of VMI.”
Now, it is possible that Love’s departure is connected to the raging debate over the appropriate way to address racial, gender and sexual-identity issues at the institution. Should the VMI administration seek to highlight differences in order to combat them, or should VMI stick with its long-standing practice of tearing down cadets’ old identities in the infamous Rat Line and forging a new identity as Brother Rats? Fueling speculation of a political motive is the recent declaration of Martin Brown, Virginia’s chief officer of diversity, opportunity and inclusion, that “DEI is dead” and Governor Glenn Youngkin’s refusal to back away from that statement.
However, there is zero hard evidence that Love’s departure was motived by ideological or political considerations. Neither Wins nor the Board of Visitors have slackened in their support of Love or the DEI mission. Moreover, I have it on the authority of a VMI employee that Love was absent from VMI for several months beginning in October, which engendered speculation that she was dealing with medical issues. The fact is, outside of VMI officialdom, Love, and her circle of intimates, nobody knows why she left.
But that doesn’t stop The Washington Post. Shapira never mentions the possibility that Love departed for personal reasons. Rather, he slaps this latest news development onto the template that he has recycled in dozens of articles over the past two or more years. Despite a paucity of evidence, he portrays Love as a victim of nasty conservatives. “The online vitriol against Love has been relentless,” he writes.
I’ve seen plenty of vitriol in Shapira’s articles directed against those on the opposite side of the culture wars — witness the article describing a Matt Daniel cartoon as racist — and I’ve seen plenty of criticism against VMI’s DEI policies, but I’ve seen no personal attacks on Love. In the essays, letters and columns published in Bacon’s Rebellion, dissident VMI alumni have been careful to attack VMI policies, not the individuals devising and executing the policies. Perhaps commentators have been vitriolic in anonymous online forums, but Shapira doesn’t cite any.
This is as close as he gets:
In one Facebook group for VMI alumni, parents, and cadets, the school’s announcement in May 2021 was posted and immediately attracted denunciations.
“Total crap. So are we searching for the best or just filling quotas. The whole idea of diversity officers is repugnant. You look for the best in a colorblind way as MLK would have said,” wrote Charles Gardner, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a 1974 VMI graduate and a family physician. “To bring in unqualified people just to fill a quota does [a] disservice to everyone. So once you bring unqualified people in and they leave, flunk out, or get drummed out do you now change the rules to keep them in anyway?”Reached by phone on Thursday, Gardner told The Post he stood by his words and expressed approval at Love’s decision to resign.
Even here, Gardner was criticizing the DEI philosophy and the appointment of a DEI officer, not the appointment of Love personally. He expressed his approval of Love’s resignation only in response to Shapira’s prompting.
No, VMI’s dissident alumni are not the ones who have made the DEI debate personal, it has been the Post.
Nothing illustrates the point better than a recent article the Post has written about The Cadet alternative student newspaper. The newspaper, which has been at loggerheads with the VMI administration, won a Virginia Press Association award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service, but that award has since been called into question for the failure to alert the judges of a conflict of interest. That article, a rarity not written by Shapira, used the incident to skewer and discredit Bob Morris, The Cadet’s mentor and outspoken foe of the VMI administration. The real target, in my estimation, was Morris. The students were collateral damage.
That heinous excuse for journalism is worthy of another column, which I will write if I can find the time. In the meantime, readers can rest assured that the Post, afflicted by VMI derangement syndrome, will continue to discredit itself in its reporting.
Update: See M. Purdy’s post in the comments section. He says Love was subjected to vile language in anonymous online posts and provides a screen grab of at least one of those posts to prove his point. Clearly, that kind of language has no place in civil discourse, and it should be condemned.
Just for yucks, though, let’s cherry pick some of the comments posted to Shapira’s column.
These guys don’t even have to wear their precious white robes to announce their racism…. These people are white nationalists who oppose anybody else getting the rights they’ve enjoyed for hundreds of years. They loved to keep blacks as slaves when they could.
One thing for sure, Love being forced out and attacks on diversity proves 100% that members of The Spirit of VMI are 100% racists. They are also still fighting the civil war with the mind-set of Virginia slave masters.
VMI is a joke. It would admit anyone with a pulse. And its alumni seem to be racist, misogynistic cretins.
Those appear in just the first 25 or 30 comments. Do we tar all defenders of VMI’s DEI policy with the verbiage of a few posters who throw around loose and indiscriminate charges of White supremacy?
A tried-and-true tactic of the Post is scrounging up dreck from anonymous trolls and using it to discredit principled and reasoned voices through guilt by association. Perhaps we should turn the tables and hang VMI’s defenders based upon the inflammatory comments of left-wing trolls.