UVa’s Modern-Day Barbarians

Image credit: Bing Image Creator

by James A. Bacon

The latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has stirred up emotions at the University of Virginia more than any event since the George Floyd riots. Not only are students holding demonstrations and counter demonstrations, faculty, parents, and alumni are chiming in.

Eighty University of Virginia professors signed an open letter proclaiming themselves to be “unsettled” by the tone of a statement previously issued by President Jim Ryan concerning events stemming from Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks on Israel. Ryan expressed sorrow for the atrocities inflicted upon Israeli citizens, the writers aver, but did not acknowledge the sufferings of the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, more than 15o parents and alumni have signed a letter expressing concern for the safety of Jewish students in an atmosphere of increasing antisemitism nationally. The university, they say, needs to create a task force to eradicate antisemitism within the UVa community.

The Jefferson Council members with whom I am in contact — and I have heard from many — are unanimously supportive of Israel. The Jewish state is far from perfect when measured against a utopian ideal of pluralistic, democratic, rights-respecting nations, but Hamas, a terrorist organization masquerading as a state, bears no comparison. It is in the same league as the Huns, Vandals, Goths, Vikings and other ancient barbarians who laid waste to the settled societies around them. Council members have chosen to side with the heirs of Western Civilization and against those who seek to destroy it.

The pro-Palestinian rallies at UVa have driven home a fact that some of us suspected but never fully appreciated. The diverse factions of the far left that have taken root in Charlottesville — the anti-Zionists, the radical feminists, the LGBQT militants, the racial and ethnic identitarians, and the old-fashion class warriors — have united in a grand intersectional alliance. While their preoccupations may seem splintered and contradictory, they rally around a nihilistic impulse to tear down “structures” erected by colonizers, racists, homophobes, the patriarchy, and other oppressors, that is to say virtually every institution the rest of us hold dear.

The soft, liberal do-good wing of the left at UVa — one might call it the “Great-and-Good” faction — is acutely sensitive to the world’s injustices but is disinclined to violent remedies. It shares many suppositions of the militant left regarding systemic injustice and the flaws of Western Civilization yet maintains a vestigial dedication to democratic process, freedom of speech and the rule of law. Though disapproving of the nihilists, the Great-and-Goods are paralyzed by conflicting moral impulses, thus ill prepared to deal with the challenge the zealots pose.

Indeed, the Great-and-Goods created the intellectual environment that allows modern-day barbarism to thrive. They have fostered the fracturing of the student body into racial, ethnic, sexual-orientation and gender identity groups. They have legitimized the rhetoric of victimhood, grievance, and resentment. They have presided over the intellectual and cultural transition from philosophical and viewpoint diversity into stifling leftist monoculture. The obscene willingness to justify the slaughter of Israeli innocents on the supposed grounds that the state of Israel has done worse to the Palestinians could never have taken root at UVa had such an idea been subject to vigorous fact checking and moral reasoning in classrooms and dormitories and public fora.

It is no accident that 80 faculty members at UVa express their support for Palestinians while not one faculty member has publicly defended Israel. It is no accident that 15 or more student groups endorse Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) while not one student group (other than Jewish ones) has openly opposed it. It is no accident that the only voices openly siding with the Jews are parents and alumni who are not immersed in UVa’s leftist monoculture and, thus, are capable of thinking for themselves and can speak without fear of retaliation.

The lesson to be learned is not just, as some have suggested, that professors should be chastised for giving students extra credit for attending pro-Palestinian rallies, or that UVa needs to create an antisemitism task force, or even that President Ryan should more forcefully condemn the advocates of Israeli genocide. The lesson is that UVa has become a profoundly diseased place — a hothouse of intolerance and an incubator of hate — arising from an intellectual environment that allows pernicious ideas to run unchecked and unchallenged.

Restoring viewpoint diversity to UVa is the necessary condition for the flourishing of free speech and mutual tolerance. We should never take our eye from that goal.

3.9 11 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

27 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Patrick Ryan
Patrick Ryan
5 months ago

I could not agree more – UVA has become a cesspool of toxic factions.

Tom Leinbach
Tom Leinbach
5 months ago

I wonder what the official position of UVA’s Department of DE&A is on the current harassment of the protected class(jews)? Shouldn’t they be leading efforts against antisemitism?

Legacy Grad 69'
Legacy Grad 69'
5 months ago

Yesterday a Palestinian spokesperson said: “homosexuality is an abomination and we don’t want any here.” Can the letter signers name one Arab Muslim country where LGBTQ+ people would be safe from prosecution or worse? Idealogical blinders sadly rule the day. An end to Hamas could give the Palestinians a future.

walter smith
walter smith
5 months ago

Kalven principles NOW!
Restore mandatory SAT next.
Get back to education.
Meanwhile, today, the BOV meets, and 99% of the meeting will be in closed session to receive legal advice. The “open” parts will be to declare the closed session, to come out of closed session, and to adjourn. You can watch that, or the grass grow….take your pick.

HOWEVER, I suspect the legal advice will be as a result of the amoral, not education, indoctrination of “Great and Good.” I raised my kids to be “good” without the “help” of Marxism – in fact contrary to Marxism – the oppressor/oppressed is a dynamic of hate and power and has NO BUSINESS at UVA.

BOV – drop your political tribalism and do your job!

ConcernedUVAEmployee
ConcernedUVAEmployee
5 months ago
Reply to  walter smith

That sounds like the university is about to be sued for something in particular. This is not a regular meeting.

walter smith
walter smith
5 months ago

Correct. Special meeting.
It is to go over the report on the 3 kids shot by the disturbed kid, which appears from the outside to have been badly bungled, as the shooter was known to some extent. What extent? We don’t know. Presumably, this report will have some indication.
I believe the families of the shot kids have filed lawsuits. If I were UVA, I would try to settle quickly with a pot of money from the self insured retention and any limits on any applicable policies to keep everything from getting filed and eventually public, and to minimize the real “reputational” risk (as opposed to ESG “reputational” risk which is just another form of censorship and should be abolished).
Meanwhile, at some point, the report should be released. I believe there have been statements to that effect.

ConcernedUVAEmployee
ConcernedUVAEmployee
5 months ago
Reply to  walter smith

UVA is playing defense. Did from the start. It is going to be bad…even if the university does settle quickly.

ConcernedUVAEmployee
ConcernedUVAEmployee
5 months ago

I have a question: what if university presidents did not feel the need to comment on everything that happens in the world that is not about the education of its students or the research of its faculty? What if we asked President Ryan to adopt a new policy not to make those comments because we don’t look to him for moral or political clarity anyway?

Then, he wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of not saying things, i.e. then he wouldn’t have to spend every single day considering something in the world deserving his commentary and he could focus on what really matters.

I know that is a hard turn to make now that he has opened the flood gates, but I think it would make sense to deal with the abuse and make the turn.

Peter Heller
Peter Heller
5 months ago

Don’t disagree but thankfully he does because otherwise he’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I’m happy we know EXACTLY who he is. Now we need to find a way to replace him

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Heller

RYAN MUST GO!!

walter smith
walter smith
5 months ago

I believe you just enunciated the purpose of Kalven principles. Way to go!
The concept is that a university should not take official, endorsed, university positions, so that there is an ability to have true, uncensored intellectual inquiry. By taking political or social positions, the university and The University chill speech. And get out of their “lane.” Stick to education.

Allan
5 months ago

What you call “the Great-and-Good faction” is what the communists used to call “useful idiots.”

walter smith
walter smith
5 months ago
Reply to  Allan

That’s gonna leave a mark!
But true.
And like in all revolutions, when the useful idiots are no longer of use… see Martin Niemoller.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
5 months ago
Reply to  Allan

Absolutely. Plenty around today. Here’s some historical data on Vladimir Lenin’s original “useful idiots” intent:
https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/lenin-used-useful-idiots-to-spread-propaganda-to-the-west/

Hal Juren
Hal Juren
5 months ago

Mr. Bacon, Just want you to know that there are a lot of alumni out here who think that you and the Jefferson Council are doing good work. We admire your energy and tenacity, and are happy about your efforts.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
5 months ago
Reply to  Hal Juren

Ditto, Hal. Please spread the word….and contribute to our cause! We need donations to continue the battle.

joseph a miller lll
joseph a miller lll
5 months ago
Reply to  Hal Juren

You are correct The Jefferson Council is my new Alumni Association. Joseph A Miller lll,Esq. BA 1970

GRob
GRob
5 months ago

From the article: “Restoring viewpoint diversity to UVa is the necessary condition for the flourishing of free speech and mutual tolerance.”
Unfortunately the toxicity stems from UVa’s faculty and administration.
UVa needs a complete rebuild of the institution.
One might look at how DeSantis is reforming education in Florida as a start.

GRob
GRob
5 months ago

In addition to the influence of the progressive Left, we have this from City Journal: “Mullah from Mullahs”
“China contributed $1.2 billion to American colleges between 2014 and 2020. It has spent roughly another $1 billion since 2020.
 Between 2014 and 2020, Muslim-majority countries together donated $4.86 billion to American higher-educational institutions, representing 29 percent of all foreign donations.”

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
5 months ago
Reply to  GRob

UVA has aggressively recruited mainland Chinese Communist students for 2+ decades. Our middle daughter (UVA’14) had one as her roommate 1st year. The girl was a nightmare.

UVA should stop recruiting them immediately, as well as kids from radical Islamic countries that breed the anti-Semitism we now see evident on Grounds.

Email Ryan and the BOV. Apply pressure. And donate to TJC so we can continue the fight.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
5 months ago

Jim, this was just a SUPERB article. You tackled the key systemic philosophical issues permeating UVA and nailed it.

TJC will continue the fight. Daily and relentlessly. I hope the readers of this post will contribute to our cause. We cannot survive without your contributions.

Know we will not retreat. We will continue the battle until UVA returns to its core Jeffersonian principles. On our honor….which still holds water for us.

Peter LeQuire College '65
Peter LeQuire College '65
5 months ago

Ironic. While the University has been and increasingly is fixated on “inclusion, equity and diversity” it become less inclusive, more grasping of establishing advantages for admission and less tolerant of others.

It’s been a long time since I graduated, and a lot has taken place that obscures “old” history – such as the Russian Revolution, WWI, the interwar depression and social upheaval that took place after the Treaty of Versailles, the conquest of Europe by the Nazis, the genocides of their populations by the Russians, the Chinese, the Germans,the defeat of the Axis powers, the Marshall Plan, etc. I remember my uncle coming home from WWII; I remember seeing the horrifying film taken of the German concentration and extermination camps as they were liberated. (Many of those films can be found on the www.)

That history also includes the maltreatment of European Jews; their harassment, the destruction of their businesses, their excision from the economic life of their communities (Kristallnacht) – all of which began with the anti-Semitism we see on the steps of the Rotunda and on other “liberal” college campuses.

This harassment, and the anti-Semitism from which it arises is many things, but, overall, it is evil -evil in the sense of morally wrong, wicked, ruinous, injurious, harmful.

It makes me sad that faculty at the U are either willfully ignorant of the nature of their antipathy toward Israel and Jewish people, or are committed to ignoring the history of the 20th. Century. Worse, to mis-educate students is academically indefensible. For the University to refuse to defend an accurate curriculum for its students is inexcusable.

The University’s history and culture have been and are under attack. It may be to late, and the response to tepid, to reclaim them.

Dennis Hughes
Dennis Hughes
5 months ago

I believe the University can be saved only by radical changes.
Immediately fire Ryan, Baucom, all DEI deans and when the Marxist faculty and children start a rebellion like was done with Sullivans attempted removal, fire the faculty and send the children home.

Dennis Hughes
Dennis Hughes
5 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Hughes

BOV must stop letting the tail wag the dog.

walter smith
walter smith
5 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Hughes

You are definitely on the right track.
Obviously, leadership changes are needed, badly. The 95% political contributions going one way illustrates a problem. The mandated DEI statements without mass protests by professors indicates a problem (academic freedom is only squealed when a conservative item is proposed, much less implemented). The Covid violations of civil rights and religious freedom…without ANY law professor raising a hand = problem. Same with lockdowns and no ECON or History prof raising a hand. All of that points to a political monoculture AND fear to speak, despite UVA’s so-called “unequivocal” support for free speech. UVA is sick. Very sick.
1. Abolish Great and Good (a secular humanist manifesto)
2. Adopt Kalven principles of official political neutrality
3. Remove DEI – root and branch – not just the department, all of the departments in all the schools and all of the departments by subject – GONE – all of it – a poisonous Marxist ideology that is actually divisive, and hate-filled
4. Re-require SAT scores
5. Follow the law and get rid of the race-based (wink wink) questions on the application
BOV – you set policy. Ryan is supposed to implement the BOV policy, which is supposed to have as its #1 priority – duty to the Commonwealth. Turning my daughter, and all of her classmates, into “global citizens” is not UVA’s job.
Get back to education!