Woke War on VMI Is Just Getting Started

Ian Shapira

by James A. Bacon

Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira does a victory dance in the newspaper today with his coverage of J.H. Binford Peay III’s resignation as superintendent of Virginia Military Institute. Last week the Post had published Shapira’s reporting based on quotes from a half dozen VMI cadets and graduates that alleged “relentless racism” at the military institute. Governor Ralph Northam ordered an investigation into the school’s culture, and Peay resigned on the grounds that Northam had lost confidence in his leadership.

“During Peay’s tenure, multiple accounts of racist incidents have surfaced at VMI,” summarized Shapira in his follow-up. In his original piece, he had recounted six or seven incidents over several years, which today’s article described five separate times as “relentless racism.” He quoted a half dozen or so sources who were unhappy with VMI, implying that their experiences and sentiments were typical of the 130 to 140 African-Americans enrolled at the institute.

Now that he has tasted blood — it’s quite a journalistic coup for a pasty-faced pajama boy to take out a college president with Peay’s distinguished career — Shapira has expanded his indictment against VMI. He described a 2005 incident in which cadets who dressed up in costumes parodying Nazis, Africans, and gay people, and a sexual harassment complaint in 2o11 in which a woman alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a VMI administrator. In the complaint, Peay, according to Shapira, was indelicate enough to ask the woman if she has asked the alleged assailant to stop.

As the progressive left completes its long march through America’s universities and cultural institutions, there have been few hold-outs. VMI was one of them. Now the Northam administration is signaling it is time to bring the Institute to heel.

Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said that “change is overdue at VMI, and the Board of Visitors bears a deep responsibility to embrace it.” She added: “Diversity is a fundamental commitment. Without this recognition, VMI cannot properly educate future citizen-soldiers nor live up to its values of honor, character and service.”

We’ll find out more about the Northam administration’s intentions when he announces who will be conducting the investigation into VMI and how he frames the scope of the investigation.

There is an incredible irony here. Even Shapira’s hit piece did not allege any racism on Peay’s part personally. The 80-year-old retired general had tried to thread the needle between the Institute’s veneration of past Confederate heroes and modern-day racial sensitivities. Yet Peay did the honorable thing under the circumstances and submitted his resignation.

By contrast, Northam refused to resign after revelations that he had posed in blackface attired like Michael Jackson while standing next to an individual dressed in KKK robes during a medical school social event. Indeed, he claimed that the person in blackface in the photograph was not him at all, he didn’t know how the picture got into the yearbook, but that he did recall having once donned blackface as Michael Jackson during a dance contest in Texas. Furthermore, Northam has yet to give an explanation for his nickname, “Coonman,” while at VMI. But now that Northam has embraced Critical Race Theory and is working to implement it in Virginia public schools, all his transgressions and dissembling have been forgiven.

What happens next? The Shapira piece signaled that a possible future target will be board president John Boland, who pushed back against the relentless-racism charge. “Systemic racism does not exist here and a fair and independent review will find that to be true,” he said in a letter to Northam. If the Washington Post stays true to its style of journalistic attack, it is now Boland’s turn to be crushed. America’s deplorables must learn that resistance is futile.

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42 responses to “Woke War on VMI Is Just Getting Started

  1. What surprised me from the article was that there are football scholarships still given at VMI. For what reason? They are Division Three. The board should eliminate that immediately and get back to putting the academy in order.
    ( I think that will remove a lot of the problem.)

    • That’s what you bring? Seriously? The problem is football scholarships? I count 38 black players on the VMI football roster. Is this solution part of your diversity initiative?

    • What does them being a Division Three school have to do with it? They have just as much incentive and just as many reasons to try to field a competitive football team as their contemporaries – or any school from any division for that matter.

  2. “…for a pasty-faced pajama boy to take out a college president with Peay’s distinguished career…”

    Always fun when conservatives let slip the veil and reveal the hierarchical, aristocratic foundation of their philosophy. One should know better than to question one’s betters.

    • In 1977, a year before his run for Senate, John Warner brought Liz Taylor to Lexington to show off (her, not Lexington.) As the bureau reporter, it was my story for a day or so. The National Media, especially the Post, was all over it, treating Lexington even then as a quaint, faded, somewhat Faulkneresque throwback of a college town, stuck in the past. Nothing’s changed in 43 years….

      Yes, victory dance is apt. With a bloody scalp to show off to the Pulitzer Committee.

      Peay probably realized the next step would be Northam firing most or all of the BOV (which he still may do), so the General chose honorably not to be the cause of that. The next president will do what is demanded. I knew Mike Irby and Sy Bunting a bit, better than I’ve known Peay, and considered John Knapp a friend. Peay belongs in their honored company. I’d call for a statue of George Marshall in front of the barracks instead of Jackson, but I’m sure objections will be raised to that, as well.

      • There is a statue of Marshall in front of barracks already, I believe.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        As a young boy I remember my mother pointing out Liz Taylor to me once. She was at the old country store in Rectortown just down the road from the Warner compound (which I believe the senator received from the Mellon divorce). She was driving an old Chevy pickup, wearing flannel, hair all a mess, and smoking a cigarette. I did not believe what my mother was telling me, Liz Taylor is one of the most beautiful women of Hollywood.

        • As a middle age man, I remember Liz up close, She was a shit kicking pistol. Who was sexiest man you ever met? I asked. Hyman Rickover, Liz replied as John Warner sat up straight, as Liz explained how ‘Hyman’ got Warner out of her bed at one in the morning in Georgetown. That is real power, Liz, explained.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Great story Mr. Reed. I am a big fan of Hyman Rickover. I will remember this one.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Back in those days, James, a naval officer, even one as impossibly senior as Hyman Rickover, needed the Written permission of the Secretary of the Navy to marry another naval officer, or heaven forbid, another enlisted or non commissioned naval officer. Hence, Hyman’s mid night Summons of the Secretary of the Navy to the Admiral’s armored Flag Deck high atop its conning tower. Perhaps, too, the sudden onset of sensual urges afflicting the octogenarian Admiral Rickover had been ignited by Naval Secretary’s bedding of none other than Liz Taylor. A quite likely possibility. Hyman was not a man to be outperformed or otherwise toyed with.

    • Yeah, I broke my rule against personal attacks. You’re justified in calling me out. But I don’t regret it. I find Shapira reprehensible.

      • I suspect that Shapira in about 10 years will find Shapira reprehensible like the rest of us.

      • No need for regrets, Ian is a reprehensible human being. Had my experience with him about a decade ago, would like to think I was responsible for the Metro editor transferring him to the hinterlands of Maryland from the NOVA desk at the Post. Guy is a real muckraking POS.

  3. Aha! Today’s ad hominem attack of the day. A”pasty faced pajama boy.” Never mind that .Mr. Shapira has been at the Post for 20 years and was a Pulitzer finalist for his work with the shooting tragedies at Virginia Tech and the Washington Navy Yard. Jim, if you are going to insult someone when you don’t know you are talking about, please spare us. Ok?

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      ага! That’s russian for Aha! The google translator plays it in russian. Sounds better. I’m sure Mr. Shapira can take one little poke in the eye from the Rebellion.

    • I lost respect for the Pulitzer Prize a long time ago.

      • My own admittedly cynical take on the Pulitzer prizes are that they are on par with the oscars, emmys, tonys and other entertainment-related awards. They are a self-congratulatory sham that allows people in a particular branch of the entertainment industry, and of a particular political persuasion, to pat each other on the back and have a party.

        There’s no problem with that of course, unless one takes them too seriously.

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    As frosted over as I am about this I think VMI will endure. In the summer of 1864, David Hunters troops wrecked Washington College, burned Governor Letcher’s house down, and torched VMI. By the turn of the century VMI was back stronger than ever. VMI will long outlive the legacy of Northam and Shapira.

    “In Pace Decus, In Bello Praesidium”

    • Exactly the same story could be written about any of America’s colleges. Thousands or tens of thousands of students and somebody will do something untoward, post something stupid on social media, be offended by something said by a prof, get into a row with another student and slip out with an insensitive epitaph. ‘Tis human nature (right, Governor?). But VMI has that Confederate heritage that it still views proudly, not with shame, and that is what must end or else. So end it will.

      I now regret this, the lesson didn’t take:

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        I remember this discussion. Seems like a life time ago now. So much has happened. My contempt and disdain for Northam remains. Sadly Northam remains, but his time will end too. 441 days.

  5. Jim. It is tacky to make fun and f someone’s physical characteristics. Ever seen yourself in Crocs?

    • You are absolutely right — it is tacky to make fun of someone’s physical characteristics. A person’s physical characteristics say nothing about the quality of his or her argument. I broke my own rule. I’m guilty as charged, and you are fully justified to call me on the carpet.

      I should have funneled my intense loathing for Mr. Shapira into dissecting the quality of his journalism.

  6. Thanks. What about the Crocs?

  7. Got a photo?

  8. I have to agree, Mr. Shapira would be well advised to keep his image off his stories. You are forgiven. ( Except for the Crocs part.)

  9. There can be no doubt now that America is well on its way to destroying itself, and perhaps now is reaching the point of no return. This is plain to see. And the ongoing destruction of VMI and UVA in Virginia is a metaphor for our ongoing rush to destroy the American nation.

    No one sees this more clearly, and expresses it better, than Andrew A. Michta, dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in his opinion piece published today in the Wall Street Journal. Here are excerpts.

    “The American Experiment Is on Life Support

    ‘Death to America!” is a common refrain from antifa rioters from Portland, Ore., to Kenosha, Wis. Children are in the streets calling for the country’s destruction while mobs of college kids trash public spaces, filming themselves as though part of a performance-art spectacle. Neither political party has been willing or able to end this anarchy. Extremism becomes more entrenched in American politics with each passing day.

    These acts of violence encapsulate five decades of neo-Marxist indoctrination in American schools, colleges and universities. The left’s “long march” through the institutions is all but complete. Extreme intolerance has now replaced the liberal notion of negotiated compromise that is the sine qua non of democracy. America’s young, especially those raised in middle-class or affluent homes, have been so brainwashed that they no longer notice how absurd it is to call for the eradication of their own nation-state, and to do so in the lingo of Iran’s mullahs.

    Their ignorance of history is the hallmark of the current crisis. Few seem able to grasp the complex, often painful, but on balance grand story of America—one that is an example of what a people committed to individual freedom can achieve. Instead, they have been indoctrinated to reduce American life to a racial binary of whites vs. “people of color.” It’s much like the communist binary of the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat that the Bolsheviks used to seize power in 1917, with millions perishing in the totalitarian Soviet experiment that followed.

    The violence suggests that tribalism based on group identity is poised to succeed the larger national community that for more than two centuries has protected and expanded freedom around the world. The American nation-state is a unique experiment, unparalleled in history: a political project that grew from an established Anglo colonial settler culture, and that forged a distinct national identity strong enough to acculturate the many ethnic groups that have immigrated, while preserving a strong sense of its unitary creed.

    The American nation has its dark sides, with slavery remaining a deep scar on its history. Nonetheless, the power of the American ideal offered millions something that no other culture could, namely the chance to reinvent and renew one’s life, advance one’s position, and create a better future for one’s children. The passionate nationalism of America has been rooted in the belief in exceptionalism as a people ordained for greatness, and that equality of opportunity under the law could constrain the base impulses of man.

    It is a tragedy that the young seem to have jettisoned this foundational American ideal, or more likely were never exposed to it in the first place. The traditional view that political victory and loss are both part of the democratic process and the gist of a self-constituting polity has been replaced with a Leninist drive to nullify one’s opponent. The principle of the radical politics now consuming the country seems to be “I win, you disappear.”

    Elites, especially the professoriate, bear much of the responsibility for this state of affairs. For decades in classrooms and lecture halls they laid the groundwork for the present moment. The politics of intolerance preached in nearly every realm of American life assumes that those in “flyover country” are in effect no longer fellow citizens, as they are incapable of grasping the shibboleths of the globalist international order. They are irretrievably somewhere, and once stripped of their community—say, because their job was shipped off to Asia—they become internally displaced, with neither their views nor lifestyle deserving of elite respect. Those who speak on their behalf are dismissed as “populists,” all but unfit to be heard in polite society.

    American free-market capitalism has been both the most destructive and the most creative framework for generating wealth and innovation. Yet historically, its destructive quality was tempered by the regnant nationalism of its people, one that ultimately superseded the idea of class … who saw themselves bound to their nation and the attendant principle of mutuality of obligation, giving back in money and service to the country that made their success possible. They saw themselves as Americans first, even though they had the means to be citizens of the world.

    In contrast, America’s corporate elite today, especially its financial plutocrats on the East Coast and digital aristocracy on the West Coast, seem keener to work on “global problems.” The commitment to one’s country is seen as a sign of retrograde populism to be stamped out at the first possible opportunity.

    Corporate elites have pushed a self-serving vision of a world of transnationalism unconstrained by local cultures and institutions, many of which took centuries to establish and consolidate. The new credentialed oligarchy—people simultaneously from everywhere and nowhere—feels an ever more tenuous sense of obligation to its fellow nationals.

    The assault on the constitutional right of citizens to speak freely unless they affirm first the increasingly intolerant orthodoxy has been unrelenting. The nation’s freedom is being abridged by incessant charges of structural racism, white privilege, homophobia and intolerance, with few pausing to consider the effect on liberal traditions. Today the neo-Marxists control almost all areas of elite discourse in the U.S., and can thus cancel any opposition by hurling “populism” or “racism” at anyone who refuses to submit to their ideological line.

    As cities burn and racialists push to resegregate public spaces, the deconstruction of the American nation is coming dangerously close to completion …” End Quote.

    For more of this very clear eyed view of America’s ongoing destruction of itself, see:

  10. I suspect J.H. Binford Peay III’ was already in trouble if the accounts of the students are true.

    If he was presiding over the VMI that was always what it was before, by tradition, and without change, folks can choose/decide if that was the right path.

    One does wonder if VMI had a “reputation” that was known to blacks why they’d enroll in the first place or once they did, if they encountered the racism that they did – why they stayed AND if J.H. Binford Peay III had a clue about any of it or should have and if so, what did he do?

    I cannot think of a College more inexorably tied to the Confederacy, at least in my own mind; that does not mean it could not transition to a more contemporary color-blind Military Academy like West Point – but it would have to actually do it and it be seen by others outside the institution – as opposed to staying like it always was.

    There’s probably a lot more to this but we may never hear all of it.

    I actually hate to see this happen to VMI – but if you don’t change, change will come to you on it’s terms which are never easy.

  11. Reed. I am sorry but this is such utter bullshit. Peter

  12. As far as Reed,he always says America is in a death trap. He sees needed change as a trip to the national cemetery. He does not trust young people. I do. I do not take him seriously.

  13. ” … a pasty-faced pajama boy …” Lol. Is that anything like a “lying dog faced pony soldier”? You and Slow Joe are starting to sound alike.

  14. The unexplored thread is the connection between the VMI students who talked to the Post about their complaints and feelings of alienation, and Miss FU and her fellow travelers at UVA. Same phenomenon, right? Same result of the education up to that point, the social media milieu, and the feeling of empowerment that comes when you Stick It To The Man? Isn’t she saying EXACTLY the same things as the cadets and former cadets? Ryan appeases, acquiesces and survives, Peay is perceived as resisting their demands or disputing the validity of their complaints and he’s toast. The lesson is clear…..

    Again, I remain amazed at the readership stats that Bacon’s stories on the UVA flap are getting, literally off our charts compared to the past. I would assume most of those reading are UVA grads or part of that community and of the same mind as Jim and Reed. They are spitting into a hurricane.

    Ya’ll ain’t gonna like what comes next. Brace yourselves. Bury the silver.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      When Sheridan rode through Lombardy Grove in 1865, my 4th great grandfather Harwood Lockett not only buried the silver he buried the country hams too. They were unearthed in 1868 for his daughters wedding. Takes a lot of work to cure a ham.

  15. “Ryan appeases, acquiesces and survives, Peay is perceived as resisting their demands or disputing the validity of their complaints and he’s toast. The lesson is clear…..”

    Yup – Peay is a man of achievement and honor; Ryan is a _? I’ not sure, Wait, What?

    A coward? A man without spine? An opportunists? A fool? A fraud? Wait, What?

  16. so a couple of comments on the above from a VMI class of 83 graduate
    1 VMI is division 1 in all sports and also has club sports ( rugby ect also) and plays division 1 FCS football ( similar to say Richmond or JMU although those might have moved to FBS now)
    2. VMI athletes live mixed in with the rest of the corp and are part of the corp and are mostly under “permit” to get excused from military duty like parades and such — there are also other “permits” that get you out of this duty so not only is this not a racist term for VMI it is not even strictly used for athletes
    3. as stated by one poster above — there is a statue of General Marshall in front of barracks in front of Marshall arch — there is also Washington arch with a statue of said general and an entry dedicated to Jonathan Daniels class of 58 ( see his wiki page for more info on him specifically as it relates to this issue)
    4. Gen Peay had a multi part plan to improve VMI regarding race issues ( most of this involved real change like more programs to help link recent minority grads with VMI alumni in the professional world – more minority faculty ect ) and this plan also moved the main entrance of barracks to Marshall arch and away from Jackson arch. But no seems to care to much about all that – all the coverage was that the statue of Jackson was staying up.
    5. VMI is a tough school in a lot of respects – always has been and hopefully always will be . Cadets have been complaining about the school since if was formed is my guess. I have no doubt there have racial incidences over the years just like in every organization especially one as old as VMI. It does seem to me however that if you are in the business of selling claims of racism these days — well there seems to be a lot of buyers now

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