by James A. Bacon
As a critical vote approaches in the Virginia state senate, The Cavalier Daily has doubled down on its denunciation of Bert Ellis, and in so doing has revealed its real motive for campaigning to block his appointment to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors: Ellis represents a threat to Business As Usual at UVa.
In a Jan. 28 column, the Editorial Board rehashed its absurdly one-sided portrayal of Ellis’ actions as a member of the University Union 50 years ago and the two-and-a-half-year-old thought crime of intending, but never following through, to use a razor blade to cut down the infamous “F— UVA” sign on the door of a Lawn resident. The editors have persisted in their cherry-picking of facts despite the publication of multiple articles providing the full context of these incidents. (To refresh yourself on the details click here.)
The Cavalier Daily is not engaging in journalism. The editorial, like its previous articles and editorials libeling Ellis as a racist and homophobe, is a partisan polemic. Sadly, as the student newspaper’s charges have been amplified by the UVa Student Council and Faculty Senate and propagated through social media and the rumor mill, they have inspired Democratic Party opposition in the General Assembly to the confirmation of Ellis, who was nominated by Governor Glenn Youngkin last June.
Normally, Virginia’ governors’ nominations for state boards and commissions are lumped together in a single bill and approved en masse. This year, two of Youngkin’s nominations have been stripped out for separate confirmation: State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, who has expressed skepticism of “systemic racism” as a cause of racial differences in racial health outcomes, and Ellis.
Why has Ellis been singled out? Why the grotesque misrepresentations? Why have the CD’s allegations transmogrified into claims so outrageous that even the CD would not recognize them — for instance, that Ellis used a razor blade to assault the young woman who penned the F— UVA sign?
Militant leftists perceive Ellis as a threat to their stranglehold on UVa’s culture and power structures. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
Three days ago the National Lawyers Guild at UVA condemned the invitation of Erin Hawley, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, to a Federalist Society event previewing a U.S. Supreme Court case touching upon religious freedom. The “progressive” law student group cited Southern Poverty Law Center designation of the Alliance as an anti-LGBTQ+ “hate” group.
In the aftermath of the triple-murder shooting at the University of Virginia Sunday night, the Federalist Society canceled the meeting “out of respect for the tragedy,” said Julia Jeanette Mroz, president of the UVa chapter. “As a student group, we felt it appropriate to follow the University’s lead in designating today a Day of Observance. No other circumstances bore on this decision.”
The Society is working with Hawley to reschedule the event this spring.
The Federalist Society, a group of mostly conservative and libertarian law school students, invited Hawley to a discussion of 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a pending Supreme Court case. The Alliance Defending Freedom represents the plaintiff in that case, Lorie Smith, who believes on religious grounds that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and refuses to design websites for LGBTQ+ couples.
The National Lawyers Guild (NGL) at UVA “condemns the views of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as well as the Federalist Society’s decision to give them a platform by inviting them to speak at an event at the law school,” stated the NGL Facebook page in a post that garnered 88 “likes.” Continue reading
Leon Trotsky, People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs, 1918
by James C. Sherlock
Leon Trotsky, who headed the Red Army from 1917-22, did not trust it.
On 6 April 1918, he wrote in Isvestia:
The military commissar is the direct political agent of Soviet power within the army. His post is of the highest importance. Commissars are appointed from the ranks of exemplary revolutionaries, capable of remaining the embodiments of revolutionary duty at the most critical moments and under the most difficult circumstances…. The military commissar ensures that the army does not become isolated from the Soviet system as a whole and that individual military institutions do not become breeding grounds for conspiracy.
With commissars at every level of the army, they had their own reporting chain independent of the operational chain of command. And punishments both quick and much to be feared.
Progressives, themselves unwilling to entrust the revolution to those who may subvert it, are fond of similar structures.
Witness the broad and deep Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) system at the University of Virginia. Continue reading
The percentage of campaign donations from University of Virginia employees fell from 95% in 2020 to only 91% this electoral season, according to data compiled from Federal Election Commission records by Walter Smith, a member of The Jefferson Council.
Polls show that Hispanics, Blacks and suburban White women are deserting the Democratic Party in droves this year. Of course, there aren’t many of those constituencies at UVa. The university population represents in its purist form the Whites-with-advanced-college-degrees demographic. When you lose 4% of those people, you know the Dems are in trouble!
What else do these numbers tell us? We already knew in 2020 that, among the university faculty, staff and other employees who made contributions, only 5% swam against the anti-Trump tide of that year. This year we discover that UVa has a swing vote amounting to 4% of employees employee donors. Continue reading
Bert Ellis. Photo credit: Washington Post
by James A. Bacon
The University of Virginia Faculty Senate has voted to censure Bert Ellis, a Board of Visitors member, for violating the university’s “foundational values” two years ago when he “prepared to vandalize a protest sign” by a resident of the Lawn.
Ellis acquired a paint-scraper razor with the aim of removing a large sign that said, “FUCK UVA,” but did not act upon his intention when two student ambassadors (unarmed volunteer adjuncts to the university police) advised him not to.
The resolution expressed the Senate’s opposition to Ellis’ appointment to the Board and censured him for behavior “which neither reflects the Mission Statement of the University of Virginia nor fosters the safe space requisite for the free investigation, deliberation, and exploration of ideas.”
Sixty-one of 84 Faculty Senate members voted in an online tally after the resolution was proposed last week. Thirty-seven members voted in favor of the resolution, while 15 voted against and nine abstained, according to Senate Chair Tish Jennings.
Ellis was one of four board members appointed in June by Governor Glenn Youngkin to the UVa Board, which was, and still is, dominated by holdovers from the Northam administration. A conservative businessman and alumnus, Ellis is president of The Jefferson Council, which is dedicated to protecting the Jeffersonian legacy at UVa, upholding the dignity of the Academical Village of which the Lawn is a part, preserving the Honor Code, and protecting free speech, free expression and intellectual diversity. Continue reading
From our indefatigable filer of Freedom of Information Act requests, Walter Smith, we get the following description of a course, “Trump, Tea Party Women, and the Rebirth of a White Christian Nation,” offered by the University of Virginia departments of Politics and Religious Studies. The course description and required texts speak for themselves — no commentary needed. On a positive note, Professor Larycia Hawkins does demand adherence to the Honor Code and penalizes students for late papers! — JAB
Depts of Politics and Religious Studies
The idea that women’s main role in the republic is birthing citizens has experienced a renaissance. This course explores the politics of evangelical Tea Party women, including their construction of authentic citizens as white and Christian; explains the cultural logics that secured Trump’s election; and analyzes the effects of this version of reproductive politics for public policies in the Trump era ranging from immigration to welfare. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
In June 2022 a University of Virginia alumnus took his college-bound daughter to visit Mr. Jefferson’s university. UVa was one of the young woman’s two top choices, and she looked forward to a tour of the Lawn and the Grounds. But disillusion set in quickly. At the orientation, a senior assistant dean welcomed prospective students with a four- to five-minute discourse on how UVa’s land had been stolen from the Monacan Indians and how the University was making amends for this historical wrong. And that was just the warm-up act.
Toward the end of an otherwise engaging tour of the Academical Village, a student guide launched into a “lengthy diatribe” recounting injustices ranging from the building of UVa on the backs of oppressed slaves to the infamous 2017 Unite the Right rally. The young woman was not impressed. If the recitation of left-wing grievances defined the zeitgeist of UVa today, this was not the place for her. She dropped UVa from her list of preferred colleges.
Sadly, the young woman’s experience was not an isolated one. Indeed, denigrating themes are woven through many, if not most, tours. Arguing the need to “tell the whole truth” about Jefferson and UVa, as they put it, student guides frequently cast the University of Virginia in an exceedingly negative light. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
The University of Virginia Student Council has called for the immediate resignation of alumnus Bert Ellis from the Virginia Board of Visitors, and chastises Governor Glenn Youngkin’s decision to appoint him as “rewarding behavior that endangers students.”
Ellis stands in a long line of violent racist oppressors, says the proclamation. “From the bondage and abuse experienced by enslaved people, to the violent occupation by Nazis and KKK members, to Bert Ellis — the Lawn is no stranger to racist violence under the guise of ‘Jeffersonian ideals’ in order to maintain power for the white elite.”
No, Ellis hasn’t marched in neo-Nazi rallies. He hasn’t burned any crosses. He hasn’t even used the N-word. His primary offense was a professed intention — never acted upon — to use a small razor blade to cut the infamous “Fuck UVA” sign from the door of a Lawn resident. “Whether or not Ellis used his blade, whether or not Ellis threatened the student directly,” the Council statement declared, “his conduct is reprehensible.” Continue reading
The Editorial Board of The Cavalier Daily has taken a dishonorable, unenlightened, and untenable position. The March 17th op-ed stating that students at The University are incapable of listening to a speaker and that speech threatens their very “lives” reveals a childish and churlish attitude that is in opposition to the values of The University, the values of civil society, and the values of America. Jonathon Haidt correctly noted that this generation has minds that have been “coddled” so much that they lack understanding of basic principles and are guided by many “untruths.” This article has the hallmarks of all of those untruths, starting with the headline. Continue reading
Letter to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors from Walter Smith.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I expect you will ignore me, as usual, but, for purposes of establishing a record when the time for your contextualization comes, I must document your many failures and refusal to do your fiduciary duties, because I believe, if you had any honor, you would resign.
You have the distinct honor of being in charge of one of the world’s premier public universities, with an historic legacy few other schools could match: a UNESCO World Heritage site designed by Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, third President, author of the Religious Freedom statute, and perhaps history’s greatest proponent of free speech. The University of Virginia was Jefferson’s dream, established as a public university to pursue truth wherever it may lead.
Supposedly, you have been trained in your duties as Visitors. I sincerely doubt it. I have reviewed the Board Manual and the Board Basics booklet. The Board Manual’s first two duties list (1) the preservation of the ideals and traditions of the University and particularly encouragement of the maintenance of the Honor System by the student body and (2) the establishment of general education policy. As the recently released Alumni Association survey showed, support for the Honor System has dropped precipitously over the last 20 years, and the “single sanction” was overwhelmingly defeated in a March vote. Continue reading