Youngkin Decries Higher-Ed Cancel Culture

Governor Youngkin at a Jan. 27 press conference. Image credit: Associated Press

by James A. Bacon

Glenn Youngkin didn’t have much to say about “cancel culture” in Virginia’s colleges and universities when he was on the campaign trail, aiming his fire instead at radical social-justice policies in K-12 schools. But at a speech delivered at the University of Virginia law school Friday, he criticized intolerance in higher education and made the case for intellectual diversity on college campuses.

Vladimir Putin is a tyrant, Youngkin said in an address to The Federalist Society, but the greatest threat to American democracy does not come from abroad. Said he:

The greatest threat to our democracy comes from a growing tendency to loathe rather than listen. It comes from a desire to bully and not persuade. Such a culture of contempt, this cancel culture, is toxic to our democracy, and unless the schools that exist to teach our young people take responsibility for being a solution, our democracy will indeed be in danger.

Youngkin faulted colleges for incubating the cancel culture, according to WSLS television news. When students arrive on campus,  the Governor asked, do they find their communities to be “open, welcoming to diverse ideas? Are they encouraged, equipped and empowered to think for themselves and express their views without fear? Or are they more often subjected to a stifling conformity?”

The Governor gave no indication of what, if anything, he proposes to do about the culture of stifling intellectual conformity. In his first two months in office, he has focused on The General Assembly session, the budget, COVID-19 policy, and undoing Northam-administration social-justice initiatives in K-12 schools.

The remarks at the Federalist Society were the first indication Youngkin has given publicly that higher-ed cancel culture is a major concern.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


22 responses to “Youngkin Decries Higher-Ed Cancel Culture”

  1. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    Good stuff. Virginia parents really, really value the opportunity to have their kids graduate from a top-flight college. As those same parents watch the wokeists run wild in our state colleges and public school systems—on the taxpayer’s and tuition-payers’ dime—many won’t be happy. We’ve already seen it; ask now-Minority Leader Filer-Corn what I mean.

    1. VaNavVet Avatar

      Surrounded by “wokeists” on the right, ” wokeists” on the left, and nobody found in the middle.

    2. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      It seems that many parents are still happy with UVa., despite the “wokeists running wild.” The school received a record number of early decision and early action applications last fall.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Yep. All those critics apparently don’t have a problem with their kids attending! 😉

  2. VaNavVet Avatar

    The greatest threat to our democracy is not the culture of higher ed but rather the subversion of the electoral process across the states. Is Youngkin adopting the new Republican standard that dissenting opinions will be “tolerated and allowed”?

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Oh spare me. Whether we have 21 days of early voting or 45, whether people who refuse to show any scrap of identification can cast a true ballot and not just a provisional one, whether people can stuff the mailbox the day after the election with no postmarks — no, those are not questions of electoral subversion. Either there are rules or we have chaos. Democrats seemed to win plenty of times before using those victories to tear down the rules.

      1. VaNavVet Avatar

        Subversion is about who counts the votes not about the voting process itself. Laws are being changed so that state legislatures can overturn the actual voting for little or no reason to merely appoint their own slate of electors. Are you in favor of this? When this happens we will see real anarchy in the streets.

  3. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    Once upon a purge, it was fear of Reds under Beds. Now, it’s wokeists and baby boomer faculty in higher education. Worry not, Righties, since the truth, beauty, and power of your ideas will prevail – as soon as wokeists can comprehend what it is you are saying. Measure the resistance to cancel culture by the number of PhD theses on the topic.

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “The Governor gave no indication of what, if anything, he proposes to do about the culture of stifling intellectual conformity.”

    Maybe another hotline will do the trick… oh and another EO mandating conservatism on campus….

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Agree completely! And the AG can “investigate”…..

  5. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    As usual…the critics act like this is all false. Well, if it is, why do you care?
    The reality is something quite different. What do you think of faculty political contributions running 94% Democrat? Just happens…by chance? At UVA, VaTech, JMU, W&M, VCU? W&L is the most conservative at 15% Republican contributions?
    Have you talked to any students? Any faculty who aren’t Leftists? Do you think TAs counsel students that what they write could be a micro-aggression?
    And the imbalance doesn’t affect admissions? Who gets scholarships?
    You Leftists make me sick – the hypocrisy – oh, the Red scare… No, you just do it through policy and censorship, and are quiet when you sic the mob on people who engage in CrimeThink. And deny it exists…
    Here is what is going on –
    And UVA says it believes in free speech…but it will not go out of its way to show it. The Federalist Society is too big – but the Woketivists oppose YAF, College Republicans, etc. And JR lets it occur and pretends.
    Also, the UVA DEI policy and DEI peer review is on its face illegal. Where is any UVA Law professor with the cojones to stand up?
    Most agree with situational justice and the rest don’t want to commit professional suicide…with the Tolerant Left (who are not engaging in McCarthyism themselves!)

    1. VaNavVet Avatar

      Sorry Walt but found this rambling and hard to follow.

  6. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Uh, the untold story here is that the Federalist Society even exists and is allowed to meet openly at UVA. Based on what I’ve read here, I’m stunned it hasn’t been fully repressed. Next you’ll tell me they have a College Republican branch there still….

    1. Cathis398 Avatar

      it’s very strange because I could swear I’ve read on this very site, and not even all that long ago, that UVa basically doesn’t allow conservatives to speak on grounds anymore

      1. Donald Smith Avatar
        Donald Smith

        If y’all want to make the case that there’s no hostility to conservatives on Virginia college campuses, or that conservative and liberal/leftist opinions are aired and respected equally, go right ahead. The election results in November make me think that a critical mass of Virginians won’t agree with you.

        In fact, if Governor Youngkin makes the politicization of Virginia universities a campaign issue for 2023, I think he’ll have a winner. No matter how much the Washington Post complains about it.

      2. Really? I don’t remember that. Please provide citations.

        I have consistently maintained that ideological diversity is shrinking at UVa as an intellectually diverse and tolerant baby boomer faculty is replaced by a younger generation with a much more leftist orientation. I’ve also said that, with the spread of cancel culture, many faculty members and students are afraid to express themselves. I’ve also made a point of highlighting the few that are willing to speak out.

        1. VaNavVet Avatar

          Do the woke conservatives busy looking for leftists in the bushes really want ideological diversity? Perhaps they are really looking for their chance to be the recognized bullies.

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      In Republican Party, culture cancels you.

      The only culture in the RPV is in petri dishes.

  7. Greg Long Avatar
    Greg Long

    You want to see repression look at the Virginia Military Institute where the administration is threatening to start its “own “student newspaper as a way to replace the 115 year old one actually run by cadets under the false narrative that alumni (not cadets) writing the paper. Seems the Honor Code at VMI does NOT apply to the current administration. See this article on the situation at VMI:

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      As a former student editor who once had words with the principal, that has my attention. Nothing new about hostility from administration towards a raucous student paper, the the pesky First Amendment still applies. Again, the good news is they are fighting back, as indeed the good news in the other post from JMU is the role of the student paper in airing things out.

  8. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Mr. Fleece admires DeSantis… good luck, Bubba.

  9. david Beauregard Avatar
    david Beauregard

    The Governor joins and increasingly vocal majority that challenges the entire Socialist/Progressive agenda. The fact Higher education has taken up the Progressive chant is not surprising. The line is drawn when their love affair with socialist dogma becomes a barrier to learning at the highest levels. These schools are anxious to join the chorus of those seeking to eliminate debate, disparage other opinions or support university student governance in the absence of due process. Social Progressivism is a failed dogma and yet it continues with life in the intellectually sealed capsule of the University. It seems higher education has reached its limit with the majority.

Leave a Reply