Wins Defends LGBTQIA+ Performance Artist at VMI

VMI Superintendent Cedric T. Wins

The rhetorical battle at the Virginia Military Institute rages like the Bloody Angle in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. In this ongoing war of words, VMI Superintendent Cedric Wins is like the corps commander who wanders dangerously close to the battlefront. Rather than rely upon subalterns and proxies to speak for him, he has waded into the rhetorical fray.

Wins recently distributed a letter responding to the criticism of VMI’s decision to host LGBTQIA+ performance artist Kimberly Dark. He argued that VMI has invited speakers, including conservative Judge Michael Luttig, representing a range of views. Taking issue with “unhappy alumni” who protested Dark’s presence, he framed the voluntary event as an opportunity for cadets to “listen to a speaker, evaluate the soundness of her analysis, hit her with tough questions, and see how well-founded her beliefs are.”

Bacon’s Rebellion has been sympathetic to the “unhappy alumni” Wins referred to, but we think he makes some reasonable points. Accordingly, in the interest of open dialogue, we republish his full letter below. –JAB

From: VMI-Superintendent
Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2022 at 09:10:43 AM EDT
Subject: Last night’s VMI speaker

Last night, VMI hosted a speaker on post whose very presence upset some in the VMI community calling the event “corrosive and divisive social indoctrination.” The speaker, Kimberly Dark, is a sociologist, author, and storyteller who has been invited to speak about body image, gender equity, and LGBTQIA+ issues. Dark’s talk last night was well-attended by cadets with several faculty and staff present as well. Attendance for cadets was completely voluntary.

Last night’s speaker is one of many that are scheduled. Some, such as our convocation speaker, Judge Michael Luttig, are mandatory for the Corps to attend. A number like the one last night are provided as topics of interest for cadets to attend at their discretion.

While I understand and appreciate those who are genuinely concerned about the curriculum, method of education, and various topics of learning that VMI cadets are exposed to both in and out of the classroom, time and time again, there has been a group of unhappy alumni who want to stoke the worst fears and sow seeds of discord about the training and education of students here. These unhappy alumni conduct themselves as if cadets can’t or won’t think for themselves, won’t challenge assumptions or ideas to gain a better understanding of new ideas or individuals with whom they disagree. They assume that many on our faculty and staff are a part of the conspiracy to alter VMI to an agenda counter to their own.

Take the case of Kimberly Dark. She’s been described as a national level speaker, who tackles tough topics with masterful storytelling and blends a pithy sense of humor. By her own words, the topic she intended to present at VMI was about issues concerning women and the LGBTQ+ cadets and how they struggle and are targeted for unfair treatment. What a wonderful opportunity to listen to a speaker, evaluate the soundness of her analysis, hit her with tough questions and see how well-founded her beliefs are. Instead, however, in an aim to project fear and concern, her topic is twisted into “targeted for unfair treatment at VMI” which in no way is she qualified to speak.

Critics called for executive and legislative leaders to put a stop to “social indoctrination” like Dark’s presentation. These are the same critics who just three weeks ago accused the Institute of infringing upon their free speech rights. Now they want to do the same to someone who has opinions different from their own.

From what I have heard, members of the Corps of Cadets and faculty and staff who attended the event listened attentively and engaged with the speaker in a manner that is becoming of the Virginia Military Institute. I suspect that not all who attended agreed with everything she had to say. But that’s alright. This is how critical thinking and civil discourse works.

VMI has a long history of providing a forum for many local, national, and world leaders and experts to share their thoughts and ideas on matters of public policy and social change. In a similar way, VMI has welcomed the likes of President George W. Bush, Rep. John Lewis, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Their talks on post were not about conforming the Corps to their ideas but rather exposure to varied perspectives.

VMI will continue to provide an environment where cadets can hear varying perspectives on the important topics of the day. VMI is not about shielding cadets from difficult conversations and challenging experiences. This is about preparing graduates for the outside world. In every corner of our nation and commonwealth, organizations are working through these issues. We owe it to our graduates the opportunity to avail themselves on these topics, if they choose to attend.

Major General Cedric T. Wins ‘85
U.S. Army (Retired)
Virginia Military Institute

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49 responses to “Wins Defends LGBTQIA+ Performance Artist at VMI”

  1. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Sadly there need be a defense, but we all know from whom the defense was required.

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      More like this blog runs interference for disgruntled alums.

      1. Donald Smith Avatar
        Donald Smith

        Consider it balance. The woke alumni can read the Washington Post, and everyone else can read BR.

        1. M. Purdy Avatar

          Balance would be topics covered, not just denying that documented things are so. For example, the stories from last week glossed over the most egregious anti-free speech statements by PAC and put window dressing upon what was clearly an argument for censorship. That ain’t balance, that’s spin.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Sadly there need be a defense, but we all know from whom the defense was required.

  3. Wow. Looks good

  4. sal vitale Avatar
    sal vitale

    It is interesting that the Wins letter was NOT sent to all alumni. It seems that he only targeted alumni that he has determined are not honest or worthy like me .

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      Maybe he’s tired of all the unfair attacks. Just a thought.

      1. Richard Genetalia Avatar
        Richard Genetalia

        Makes no difference whatsoever. He’s a state employee – maybe people at the DMV should be able to pick & choose whose number to call to be waited on?

        1. M. Purdy Avatar

          Not sure I follow your analogy, Mr. Genitalia.

    2. Jake Spivey Avatar
      Jake Spivey


  5. Richard Genetalia Avatar
    Richard Genetalia

    I don’t think you’ll be able to characterize people who disagree with this superintendent a disgruntled minority after this decision.

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      That’s not exactly the burn you think it is.

  6. Fred Costello Avatar
    Fred Costello

    As I recall, Mark Twain asked a riverboat captain how deep the water was over by the shore. The captain replied that he did not know. He knew only that it was deep enough were he sailed the riverboat. Also, as I recall, a couple got us in trouble because they wanted to know both good and evil.

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

      The myth goes that the couple wanted knowledge. Only to the god of evangelicals is the quest for knowledge the ultimate evil.

      1. That particular myth originally appeared in the Hebrew Bible.

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

          Doesn’t matter in what book the myth is found – I believe it predates that particular one, btw. It is the god of the evangelicals who considers the quest for knowledge to be evil.

          1. Really? Where do you get that bit of insight from? The Bible? MSM? Your 4th point of contact? We would love to know.

          2. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            The text in question: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

            Eve was seeking wisdom. Now what do evangelical say about this particular event:

            “ Not only does the Bible teach us that Adam and Eve were supernaturally created as the first two humans who rebelled against God resulting in death. This has also been orthodox Christian teaching from the beginning of the church, as William VanDoodewaard has demonstrated.”

            “Adam brought sin and death into the world… We are all sinners in need of a Savior because we inherited our sin nature from Adam and have rebelled against God just as he did.”

            Seeking knowledge is rebelling against God and what makes us all sinners.

          3. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the Serpent, and the Party of Personal Responsibility was created.

          4. William VanDoodewaard is talking about how Adam brought sin into the world. He isn’t talking about gaining knowledge. “Seeking knowledge is rebelling against God and what makes us all sinners.” Is not in the Bible. It is one man’s interpretation (Your’s?). Not all translations of the Bible call it the “tree of knowledge.” Some translations call it the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” while others call it the tree of life. The point is, God gave Adam and Eve the gift of free will and then asked them not to eat from the tree. They chose differently. They chose to disobey God and thus bring sin into the world. If you read beyond Genesis, there are many passages that tell man to question his faith and to question God. This is God’s plan to help Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God.

          5. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            The question is what we’re Adam and Eve’s motivation to disobey God. They did it in an effort to seek knowledge and they and all their offspring were damned for it. This is the Christian teaching on this particular myth.

          6. Interesting that you think that this “is” the Christian teaching. I wonder where you heard that. If that is the way you were raised or taught, I pity you that you were exposed to such backward and narrow Christian teaching. However, I think my pity is correct but not about the way you were taught about Christianity, but how you have closed your mind off to God and understanding Christians. By spewing these wrong and hateful messages perpetuated by uneducated and fearful people, you are spreading the lies of those that fear what Christianity can bring. I guess I should suspect no less from a half troll.

          7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Well, thanks for your pity… and your sanctimony…

          8. You are welcome. And I am not trying to be sanctimonious, I truly am thankful for your expertise in Christianity and pointing out that I am going to hell because I have a couple of degrees and that I cannot question God and be a true Christian.

          9. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            I am not the one saying that. It is the evangelical’s god saying that.

          10. Says who? Not in the Bible, but you know so much more than us stoopid Christians.

          11. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Oh, I don’t think evangelicals are stupid at all… quite the contrary… diabolical is the term I would use…

          12. You need to change your Handle to full troll since you fail to answer the question and try to push my buttons. Keep spreading the hate and lies Eric. It is your right.

  7. George  Walton Avatar
    George Walton

    It is good to be even-handed but some further insight is appropriate. Wins has a significant alumni revolt on his hands in large part due to his administration’s lack of transparency with respect to its DEI program and its failure to push back on the unsupported findings of the Barnes and Thornburg report. Given this he had to foresee that Ms. Dark’s appearance would cause an uproar. If he wasn’t deliberately attempting to antagonize his critics he would have simultaneously announced a speaker of opposing views. He needs to be attempting to bring us together rather accuse his critics of base intentions. Wins got off to a good start but with this letter he has probably permanently alienated this alumnus.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I think this is a reasonable viewpoint expressed in a non-confrontational way.
      thank you.

    2. M. Purdy Avatar

      What is your basis for saying the B&T findings were unsupported?

      1. George Walton Avatar
        George Walton

        Read the footnotes. Been awhile since I reviewed but in B&T survey, 12 black cadets out of 111 chose to reply and 6 of those 12 expressed that VMI was discriminatory. B&T used that to conclude the half the black cadet thought VMI was racist.

        1. M. Purdy Avatar

          Black alumni replied too; and perhaps the low response rates (which is endemic to minority populations across the board) was due to fear of backlash. Just as an anecdote, I know many who didn’t speak up for that reason. Furthermore, the results were still statistically significant. Tell me, did you ever see racism while you were there?

          1. What leads you to believe that the results were statistically significant? Do you even know what it means to say something is statistically significant? 12 out of 111 is most likely not a statistically significant sample. Here is a little refresher for you.

          2. M. Purdy Avatar

            12 out of 111 is only the survey respondents of cadets, and doesn’t include alumni, focus groups, or interviews. There were 48 total African American respondents. The alumni respondents for the most part matched the results of the cadet respondents. Now is the sample size small? Yes, it’s inherently small from another small N group. Fair enough.

          3. You failed to explain how the results were statistically significant. I think that is a judgement call that you don’t have enough information to make unless you have access to the data to do the calculations yourself and to identify whether or not the null hypothesis can be rejected.

          4. M. Purdy Avatar

            The data is public and the methodology is described in the report.

          5. The data is not public. The results of the survey are public. Huge difference. The report failed to discuss the R-value as well as even explain the null hypothesis or what hypothesis the survey results were testing. My feeling is that the term statistically significant is often used by people to make them seem smarter than they are and by lawyers to help them sell snake oil. The study also failed to discuss the variance of the sample. This alone could cause the data to be skewed significantly. A sample size that small nearly always has a high level of variability making it unreliable and less than statistically significant.

          6. M. Purdy Avatar

            The confidence intervals are not great, but what do you mean about the data not being public? Did you read the methodology?

          7. I read the methodology and as it is stated, it is sound, but without the raw data, there is no way to prove that. The only thing available to the public is the survey results. Now, those are compelling, but there is no way to determine if the sample size is representative of the whole. Can’t do that without the raw survey data and the demographic data of the respondents. The demographic data in the report is nice, but they did not provide enough information to determine if the sample size was representative of the whole.

          8. M. Purdy Avatar

            Ah, I see what you’re saying. I think we can extrapolate based on the demographics of VMI as a whole. The living alumni based is around 25K, I believe. And VMI has hovered around 5-6% African American for many years. They admitted African Americans in 1968, and only a smattering at that, so my guess is we’re talking about 8-900 living alums and cadets who are African American, so you have a participation rate of maybe 5%. Just back of the envelope here…

          9. Let me give you and example of something I did in my professional life. I conducted a survey of people that access MarineNet. I got over 200,000 respondents that were active, retired, dependent, etc. Seemed like a great sample since the actual population is somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000. The survey results confirmed what Marine Corps Education Command believed. However, I conducted a hypothesis test to determine if the sample represented the actual population. My test determined that I could not reliable believe that my sample represented the actual population. Therefore, we had to throw out the results of the survey. Marine Corps Education Command used the survey results for insights, but could not base money spending decisions on it. This is my beef with the survey that B & T conducted. They did not conduct a test to determine if their sample was representative of the population on the whole.

          10. M. Purdy Avatar

            Got it. I think it’s a fair critique.

  8. DJRippert Avatar

    I agree with Wims on this one. My only question is whether Ms. Dark’s interest in body image really has much relevance at an institution where being fit is a requirement.

    1. M. Purdy Avatar

      None whatsoever. Which is why she should be challenged by the attendees, which I understand she was.

  9. SmallTowner Avatar

    I just had a conversation with someone who attended Ms Dark’s talk and he said it was not controversial at all. She merely said we shouldn’t immediately judge people by their appearances. That was his takeaway. Seems like the alumni hoopla is based on statements on her website but apparently she didn’t share extreme views during her talk at VMI. And as MG Wins said, the cadets should not be shielded from a variety of viewpoints, even those they – or you – disagree with. Liberals who yell when conservative speakers come to their campus are labeled “snowflakes.” What do we call conservatives who want to silence liberal speakers?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Snowflake too.

    2. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy


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