With the recent triumph of the Democrat Party in the 2019 statewide elections in Virginia, it will only be a matter of time before an effort is made to rewrite Virginia law concerning “memorials for war veterans.” Progressive efforts to topple these monuments have been thwarted by legal obstacles, and now, with a majority in both houses of the Virginia legislature, Democrats will undoubtedly include a potential revision to any monument protection law as part of a larger “social justice” legislative package. The culture war will consume Old Virginny.
Part of the problem, of course, rests with the modern education system. The minds of mush who run around demanding an end to symbols of “white supremacy” are encouraged by an academic establishment more interested in activism than understanding and knowledge. Two recent pieces on Virginia history, written or influenced by professors at the University of Virginia, underscore the problem.
The first by Professor Elizabeth Varon–“UVA and the History of Race: The Lost Cause Through Judge Duke’s Eyes“–places Confederate monuments in Charlottesville entirely within the context of “white supremacy,” an argument that violates even the basic tenets of Logic 101. The second is a new book by Professor Alan Taylor which considers slavery to be the heart of the UVA experience. Jefferson may have thought otherwise, but according to Taylor, you can’t train “despots” to be good republicans. In other words, republicanism could never exist in the South, but racism could. Harvard Professor and Jefferson-Hemings myth-maker Annette Gordon-Reed, who scribbled the review, couldn’t agree more.
That this drivel drips from the pens of University of Virginia “scholars” shows the depths of the problem of activism masquerading as scholarship. It also exemplifies why Virginia will undoubtedly expunge everything Confederate–and perhaps everything truly Virginian–from its historical record in the coming years. And while these professors continue to blame traditional Virginia for every problem afflicting the people of the Old Dominion, the people piling in to Jefferson’s country will lap up the academic crusade against the Southern tradition and vote for their political accomplices in Richmond and elsewhere. Demographic displacement is not and has never been kind to tradition.
On the other hand, educational material like the following documentary from Kent Masterson Brown on the Virginia origins of the Confederate Battle Flag won’t be listed on any university syllabi. Why? Because he doesn’t talk about race and slavery, and he displays respect for the men who fought and died under the “Southern Cross.” This would have been the standard interpretation just thirty years ago. Unfortunately, seeking to understand rather than condemn or disparage has become the real “lost cause” in the historical profession. And the ghosts of the Old Dominion weep.