Category Archives: Speakers, Panels and Events

A Conversation on Israel with Victoria Coates

Our friends at the Open Discourse Coalition at Bucknell University invite Jefferson Council members and friends to a zoom session featuring Victoria Coates, a former national security advisor to Donald Trump.

Students and attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about the terrorist attacks against Israelis and the implications on foreign policy and national security. Dr. Coates’ expertise is informed by her time as Deputy National Security Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa, overseeing the Maximum Pressure Campaign against Iran and initiating the negotiations for the Abraham Accords.

Register here.

“Seeking a Better World” by Defending the Beheaders of Babies

by James A. Bacon

A week ago the Students for Justice in Palestine at UVA created a furor by publishing a statement defending Hamas’ attack on Israel. “Yesterday’s rebellion was not ‘unprovoked,’ as many have claimed, but is the consequence of years of mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and oppression from Israel,” the group wrote. “The events that took place yesterday [October 7] are a step towards a free Palestine. … We stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance fighters and all oppressed people around the world seeking freedom and a better world.”

The same group organized a demonstration yesterday at the steps of the Rotunda in the shadow of the statue of Thomas Jefferson. I made a point of attending to hear what the protesters had to say and observe what transpired. I had one major question: Who were these people? What kind of person living in free society could defend the atrocities perpetrated upon Israeli civilians of all ages? What could they possibly be thinking?

As executive director of the Jefferson Council, which is dedicated among other things to free speech and free inquiry at UVa, I supported the right of the pro-Palestinians to hold their rally and make their case. But the Council also stands for viewpoint diversity, which is under threat from the steady leftward drift of the faculty and staff and the slow extinction of professors openly professing conservative, libertarian and independent views. While the far left is a distinct minority at UVa, it is a highly vocal and influential one. How representative, I wanted to know, were the Students for Justice in Palestine at UVA? Continue reading

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of UVa’s Transgender Movement

by James A. Bacon

I learned a lot about transgender activists and advocates at the Abigail Shrier event at the University of Virginia last night. Some are bitter, angry people who hurl non-stop invective. Some are close-minded but willing to engage in rational conversation. But at least one is courteous, friendly and willing to engage in a thoughtful, one-on-one exchange. I look forward to having lunch with her next week.

Shrier, the author of “”Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” was herself polite, charming and attentive. Even as more than 100 protesters were chanting and demonstrating outside Minor Hall, she remained unflappable inside the auditorium under questioning that ranged from skeptical to hostile.

Shrier is the object of venom in the transgender community because her book dared to ask questions that many do not want to be asked. While acknowledging the gender dysphoria is real and those who suffer from it deserve compassion, she argues that much of the transgender “craze” is a social contagion mainly affecting teenage girls, that “affirmative” treatment such as testosterone shots and top surgery are fraught with ill-understood risks and dangers, and that a legion of affirming educators, counselors, and even medical doctors have abandoned science in favor of ideology. She elaborated on those themes in a Q&A session hosted by the Jefferson Council in partnership with the Young Americans for Freedom and the Common Sense Society. Continue reading

Abigail Shrier Will Be Livestreamed Tonight

Abigail Shrier, author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” will be speaking tonight (Oct. 11) at 7:00 p.m. at the University of Virginia. Register here.

If you can’t make it to Charlottesville, you can livestream the event by clicking here.

Free Speech and the Abigail Shrier Event

by James A. Bacon

It is gratifying to see the editors of The Cavalier Daily engage in an exchange of ideas, albeit indirectly through dueling editorials, with conservative proponents of free speech at The Jefferson Independent, the University of Virginia’s independent student publication, and The Jefferson Council.

It is even more gratifying to see that the CD editors embrace a principle in an editorial yesterday with which we whole-heartedly agree: “Free speech does not guarantee comfort” (even though we’re pretty sure that it’s our comfort that deserves no guarantee, not their own).

However, even as they tout the University of Virginia’s No. 6 ranking in the Foundation of Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) 2024 free speech survey, the authors argue that there are justifiable limits on speech — and that those limits should apply to people at UVa whose views they happen to dislike.

The event precipitating the editorial is the impending visit to UVa of Abigail Shrier, a journalist whose writings about the role of social contagion in the spread of transgender identity among adolescent girls has triggered trans activists across the country. “We must … recognize that certain types of speech simply should not be tolerated here on Grounds,” writes the editorial board, “even if this speech is technically permissible under the law.”

Shrier is scheduled to speak at 7:00 p.m., October 11, Room 125 of Minor Hall. You can register to attend the event here. Continue reading

The Transgender Contagion

Abigail Shrier

by James A. Bacon

Abigail Shrier deserves a Pulitzer Prize for her 2019 work of journalism, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” She’ll never get the recognition she deserves from the literary establishment, though, because her conclusions transgress some of the holiest orthodoxies in the progressive canon. Despite the outcry that greeted her book, it became a best seller and transformed the way many people think about transgenderism. I am one of them.

Anyone reading the book, as opposed to imbibing the mischaracterizations of her critics, will readily see that Shrier is no “transphobe.” She is highly empathetic to the struggles that transgender people undergo, and she respectfully refers to them by their transgendered names and pronouns. She also acknowledges that gender dysphoria is a real (but exceedingly rare) phenomenon that occurs mainly among boys as young as three or four who believe that their minds and bodies are mismatched.

Shrier is reviled because she regards the unprecedented surge of transgender identity among adolescent girls as a cultural contagion, and she sees “affirmative” practices of hormonal treatment and breast removal as one step removed from medical malpractice. She criticizes teachers, psychiatrists and medical professionals who automatically “affirm” transgender identity rather than inquire about other potential explanations of emotional distress.

One critic described her work as “a fear-filled screed, full of misinformation, biological and medical inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and propaganda.” Perhaps. I’m no expert. But I found her credible.

Virginians can hear Shrier speak for herself when she appears at the University of Virginia October 11, Room 125 of Minor Hall, at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by The Jefferson Council and the Common Sense Society as part of our ongoing effort to bring diverse voices to UVa. Register here Continue reading

Afrotopias and Christianity’s Broken Bargain

Imagine what the University of Virginia would be like if the Jefferson Council wasn’t getting speakers like former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to speak on the grounds. Here follows a list of offerings found on the UVA Today calendar of events for the current week. It’s very woke, though not uniformly so. The East Asia Center, founded in 1975 and not recognizably afflicted by progressivism, is putting on two lectures this week. And Jonathan Rauch, a pioneering advocate of gay marriage, describes himself as an admirer of James Madison and Edmund Burke and as a skeptic of utopian ideologies. I dare not predict the tenor of his remarks about Christianity’s broken promise. — JAB

New Frontiers in Black Placemaking
Panel discussion followed by a reception.
September 25

The notion of the Western frontier prompts recognition of the genocide and forced removal policies informed by notions of Manifest Destiny that dismembered Indigenous and Native communities. Native and Black landscapes of the West have historically lost population, been destroyed by development, and industry has extracted water and oil. Post-Emancipation, Black Western place makers sought a promised land in places like Nicodemus, Kansas, Blackdom, New Mexico, and Allensworth, California. During this event, descendant activists, planners, preservationists, and scholars from these towns will share their experiences preserving and planning in these emancipatory landscapes or Western Afrotopias. Continue reading

Pompeo Charms, Enlightens Crowd of 400 at UVa

Photo credit: UVa Today

The Mike Pompeo speech Monday night to an audience of 400 at Alumni Hall was a great success. View the speech in the video above. And read an excellent account of it in UVA Today.

Many thanks to our collaborators in putting on this event: the Young America’s Foundation, the University of Virginia Center for Politics, and the College Republicans-UVa.

Beat the Rush — Register for Mike Pompeo Now

As previously announced, Mike Pompeo is coming to the University of Virginia Sept. 25 to speak on the topic, “Talk softly but carry America with you: Inside negotiations on the world stage.” Registration is now open!

Register here.

Speak Softly… and Listen to Mike Pompeo

Save the date: Monday, September 25
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Location: Newcomb Hall Ballroom

Former Secretary of State and Director of the CIA Mike Pompeo will speak on the topic, “Talk softly but carry America with you: Inside negotiations on the world stage.

Michael R. Pompeo served as the 70th Secretary of State of the United States, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and was elected to four terms in Congress representing the Fourth District of Kansas. Mike graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986. He served as a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, leading troops patrolling the Iron Curtain. He left the military in 1991 and then graduated from Harvard Law School, having served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Up next was almost a decade leading two manufacturing businesses in South Central Kansas – first in the aerospace industry and then making energy drilling and production equipment.

Please join us for what promises to be an exciting evening listening to one of America’s premier statesmen of the last half century.

SPONSORS: The College Republicans, The University of Virginia Center for Politics, The Jefferson Council for the University of Virginia, Young America’s Foundation.

We will post a registration link shortly.