Yesterday, the editorial board of the Washington Post went on the attack again against Virginia Military Institute, claiming, among other things, that VMI “has an obligation to take seriously disturbing revelations in reporting by the Post.”
Well, there is nothing like adding a bit of pomposity and arrogance to a controversy. Who died and made the Washington Post a standard with which people or colleges are supposed to comply?
Let’s focus on one of the Post’s biggest complaints — VMI’s relationship to the Civil War, something that clearly rankles the woke members of the newspaper’s editorial board.
The Post’s editorial praises VMI for removing from campus a “previously revered statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who owned six enslaved people.”
Now, if VMI was revering Stonewall Jackson for owning six enslaved people, I could understand the Post’s point. But I don’t know of anyone at VMI who has ever revered Jackson for owning slaves. Jackson was revered and honored for being a Civil War hero, a military genius, and a military instructor at VMI — and for fighting for his homeland, the state of Virginia, after President Lincoln’s troops invaded the South.
What’s wrong with honoring a man for those things? After all, correct me if I’m wrong but Thomas Jefferson owned a lot more slaves than Jackson did. I don’t see the Post calling for the removal of the Jefferson Memorial. What’s up with that? Does that mean that the Post favors honoring Jefferson for owning hundreds of slaves?
Indeed, unless I’m mistaken, George Washington, who is sometimes referred to as “the father of our country,” also owned more slaves than Jackson. I don’t see the Post calling for the removal of the Washington Monument from Washington, D.C. Indeed, I don’t even see it calling for a name change for our nation’s capital. What’s up with that? Surely, the Post doesn’t favor honoring George Washington for owning those slaves.
VMI’s removal of Jackson’s statue, which it should never have done, isn’t the only thing the Post is happy about. According to its new attack, VMI has now “de-emphasized the role of VMI cadets who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War Battle of New Market.”
As a VMI graduate (1972), I sure hope that isn’t true. It’s bad enough for the VMI administration to cater to these people by removing Jackson’s statue from the parade ground in front of the VMI barracks. To also downgrade commemorating the Battle of New Market only make things worse.
What’s wrong with commemorating a Civil War battle in which VMI cadets, displaying phenomenal courage and battlefield tactics, were able to turn a stalemate into a rout of Yankee forces at New Market, Virginia? Sure, the battle was — and is — embarrassing for Lincoln’s forces, but is that any reason to downgrade commemorating it? After all, there were VMI cadets who died in that battle, fighting courageously and patriotically in the defense of their homeland against Lincoln’s invaders. Why shouldn’t VMI continue its long tradition of honoring the memory of those brave boys?
The Post’s editorial shows that once VMI gives into the Post’s mindset, the editorial board is not going to stop. I wouldn’t be surprised if the board later demands that VMI change the quotation by Jackson that is inscribed over Jackson Arch in the VMI barracks from “You may be whatever you resolve to be” to “We apologize so profusely for our ancestors’ decision to secede and now wish they had never done it.”
Like so many other enlightened people, the Post no doubt wants to maintain the charade that holds that Lincoln initiated his war with the aim of freeing the slaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the very beginning, the war was about stopping secession, not freeing the slaves, and Lincoln made that perfectly clear.
Even his much-ballyhooed Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free all the slaves in the South. Why not? What’s up with that? It was after the war was over that Lincoln and later generations convinced themselves that freeing the slaves was a better justification for the massive death and destruction that Lincoln’s war ended up wreaking. The notion that Lincoln started his war in order to free the slaves has always been a lie. The war was always about stopping secession.
After all, if freeing the slaves was what the war was all about, Lincoln could have permitted the South to secede and then declared the Northern states as a permanent sanctuary for escaping slaves. That would undoubtedly have broken the back of slavery in the South. But Lincoln wasn’t about to do that, given his repugnant belief that blacks were inferior to whites and his reprehensible conviction that it would be better to simply “send them back to Africa.”
I also find it interesting and revealing that the Post isn’t calling for the removal of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and the William Tecumseh Sherman Monument, both in Washington, D.C., owing to the massive war crimes committed by both men after their military forces invaded the South. Those war crimes included burning down VMI (in retaliation for what the VMI cadets had done to Yankee forces at New Market). The war crimes also included the targeting of innocent women and children in the South for extermination through starvation and exposure to the elements. Maybe grave war crimes committed by Grant and Sherman just don’t count though, given that the North won the war.
As I pointed out in my recent article “The VMI Controversy,” the real problem in all this is that the VMI administration, obviously fearful of losing its state funding, chooses to remain on the state dole. It doesn’t have to do that. If it got off the dole, it wouldn’t have to be catering to the Washington Post or to the members of the Virginia state government. It would be free to run the school the way it sees fit.
After all, Hillsdale College in Michigan isn’t on the dole and is totally independent of governmental control. Many years ago, the feds, obviously unhappy that there was a college beyond its control, declared that they now controlled Hillsdale’s admission department because some of Hillsdale’s students were on government grants.
No problem. Hillsdale simply prohibited students from taking government grants and replaced the monies with funding from voluntary donations. To this day, the school is totally independent of government control by both the state of Michigan and the federal government, much to the chagrin of U.S. officials.
Of course, VMI might argue that people might not be wiling to voluntarily donate the same amounts of money it receives in the state dole. That might well be true, but then doesn’t that reflect that VMI, like other state-supported colleges, is engaged in nothing less than political stealing from people who might not otherwise wish to support the school with voluntary donations?
So, just consider the dark irony here. The VMI cadet corps arguably has the strictest student honor code in the country, one that condemns and punishes stealing. At the same time, the VMI administration, through its dependence on the state dole, is actively engaged in the act of political stealing and, consequently, has to jump through whatever hoops the members of the Washington Post‘s editorial board and the Virginia government tell them to jump through.