The Washington Post’s Ian Shapira and his social justice allies in Richmond and Lexington, Virginia, must be worried, big-time. For nearly two years running, their Axis-Against-VMI has enjoyed remarkable success: forcing an honorable VMI superintendent to resign; removing Lt. Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s statue, and his name from Jackson Arch; renaming buildings and recontextualizing the past; inserting divisive ideology into courses; and establishing a diversity office at the school. To explain all of this, and the sheeplike climate that has permeated a once-willing-to-stand-apart-from-cultural-faddishness military school of high reputation, one must return to the previous, disgraced governor of Virginia. Ralph Northam came within the proverbial gnat’s eyelash of being forced from office in 2018 when his own racial insensitivities as a younger man came to light. But the VMI 1981 alumnus and former President of the VMI Honor Court – he included this on his official stationery – apparently experienced a change of heart. He embraced the demands of neo-Marxist-based, Critical Race Theory (CRT) devotees within the ranks of Richmond’s political powerbrokers, and he kept his job. In September 2019, he hired Virginia’s “first cabinet-level Chief Diversity Officer. . . . also the first [position] of its kind in the nation.”[1] In the aftermath of Northam’s insensitive behavior years earlier, one year after it had come to light he established a powerful new office – one previously unknown to the cabinet-level apparatus of any state in the country. This was astounding.

One year later, in October 2020 Northam leveled his sights at his alma mater with his infamous letter to the president of VMI’s Board of Visitors, a broadside replete with outrageous, unsupported assertions against VMI, which I’ve previously addressed. That letter became the catalyst to the dramatic and damaging changes embraced by VMI in the last 18 months. All of this, in some cases perhaps meekly accepted but in others vigorously embraced by the school’s leadership, has been even more astounding.

A cabinet-level office in Richmond – promoting so-called diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE) – was intended to promote divisiveness, distrust, and discord within the commonwealth’s citizenry, to the advantage and advancement of those running the show. It is Marxism repackaged, based on skin color in lieu of class.[2] Gone is Dr. King’s judging based on content of character; now it’s content of melanin that counts. At VMI, the intended divisiveness and discord has been achieved, manifested by verbal attacks against those (especially alumni) who disapprove of the ongoing cultural revolution they are witnessing – which they are asked to support financially, by the way. Distrust among the corps of cadets has been evident as well, including some of those who are soon to graduate expressing fears of speaking their mind even among their classmates. It must only be worse for the underclassmen. VMI’s long-running newspaper, The Cadet, has struggled under administration pressure to retain its independent voice.

The divisiveness and fraudulence of CRT-DIE programming was seen in the words of Dr. Janice Underwood, Virginia’s first Chief Diversity Officer, who in response to an interview question in August 2020 on how the administration in Richmond was addressing “racial inequities” said the following: “Because racism is institutionalized, we realize we must institutionalize mechanisms to confront it.” Really? What did the interviewer mean by “racial inequities”? What did Underwood mean by institutionalized racism? These definitions – no doubt best understood only by the intelligentsia, to use the eminent Professor Thomas Sowell’s favored term – were left unanswered. To charge or assert something is one thing, but for the assertion to carry weight in a culture (that expects to last very long) requires facts, evidence, argumentation. In his The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, Sowell writes, “. . . the vocabulary of the anointed requires no clear definitions, logical arguments, or empirical verifications. Its role is precisely to be a substitute for all these things.”[3]

Today’s brand of neo-Marxism – whether voiced by Dr. Underwood or other spokespersons in the movement – is consistent with a trait described by the noted British military historian, Major-General J.F.C. Fuller, who wrote sixty years ago:

A fundamental principle in Marxian dialectics is verbal inversion. When the accepted meaning of a word or an idea is turned upside down, not only are Communist intentions obscured [to the unsuspecting], but the mind of the non-Communist is misled, and mental confusion leads to a semantic nightmare in which things appear to be firmly planted on their feet, but actually are standing on their heads.[4]

In terms of behaviors with an actual or perceived racial component, CRT-DIE disciples love to confuse structural-systemic-institutional racism with occasional misbehaviors. (In the misbehaviors category, evidence collected by the not-so-independent investigation of racism at VMI conducted in 2021 showed the school ranked favorably with other undergraduate institutions – the report’s main complaint, rather, was unequal outcomes between white and non-white cadets, one of many situations Sowell argues is adjustable only by God or one with a view of the cosmos.) Likewise, neo-Marxists use the favorable-sounding term “equity,” when what they actually mean is “payback” for the injustices of earlier generations.[5]

In the interview, Dr. Underwood went on to say proudly, “My entire family and I have participated in the BLM protests,” before adding, “I am determined to turn the Black Lives Matter movement into actionable items.”[6] BLM, it should be stated, is Marxist. Its leaders have openly stated this, even though they decided to take down from the internet their intent to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” a Marxist aim as old as Karl himself.[7] In fairness, when Underwood admitted this not all of the 30 or more deaths, 1,500 law enforcement officer injuries, and $2 billion of destruction in American cities had yet taken place under the approving nods of BLM apparatchiks.[8]

But now that the Gov. Glenn Youngkin administration is established in Richmond – with a very different view of such matters – why even mention what happened in 2020 under Northam’s misrule? Answer: because in 2022 VMI is continuing to implement the “actionable items” of Northam’s diversity officer, albeit it seems with furtive backward glances toward Richmond. This is perhaps the reason for Shapira’s latest exercise in disgracing the field of journalism as he has (“VMI alumni push to reverse diversity reforms, invoking critical race theory,” dated April 16, 2022).[9]

In his latest hit-piece, Shapira focused attention on an alumni-organized petition protesting the entrance of CRT-DIE programming and ideology “into the VMI realm.”[10] The 1,100 signatories – no small number for a school of VMI’s size – requested that Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares halt further contract-award actions at VMI pending an investigation into the incessant – but still unsupported – charges of structural-systemic-institutional racism at the school – in contrast to the occasional acts of individual misbehavior that characterize a fallen world. The most titillating of the fraudulent charges, that a white second-year cadet made a serious threat to lynch a black first-year cadet, has been shown to be utterly without merit. While the word “lynch” was, in fact, used – and it ought not to have been – it was uttered in the heat of the moment during a workout session of the first-year “Rats” during which the black Rat deliberately sought to disobey the upper-class cadet trainers; he later admitted so. The offending upperclassman was suspended.

Shapira may not be alone among VMI watchers in having missed or forgotten a recent statement by the new VMI superintendent. On February 27, 2022, Gary Robertson of Virginia Business wrote: “While past acts of racism have occurred at VMI, [Maj. Gen. Cedric T.] Wins says that charges of ‘institutional racism’ at VMI are not supported by the facts.”[11]

This is a transformative admission. Let me repeat that last part, for it undermines, indeed, destroys the rationale for nearly every major change that has befallen the Institute since late 2020: “. . . Wins says that charges of ‘institutional racism’ at VMI are not supported by the facts” (emphasis added). It is exactly what a number of VMI alumni have rightly concluded from their own examination of the facts and the evidence presented. To ensure that General Wins (VMI, 1985) had not been misquoted or taken out of context, on April 19, 2022, I emailed Col. Bill Wyatt, VMI’s communications chief and asked him those two questions. Wyatt replied: “He was quoted correctly and in proper context.”[12]

So, after nearly two years of nonstop assaults against VMI, including the implementing of far-reaching CRT-DIE measures based upon an assumed structural or systemic or institutional racism the VMI Superintendent now admits is not supported by the facts, where does that leave VMI? Time will tell. But we now know without any doubt that structural-systemic-institutional racism does not exist at VMI. “Behold this, we have investigated it, thus it is; Hear it, and know for yourself” (Job 5:27).

[1] “Q&A With Dr. Janice Underwood, Virginia’s First Cabinet-Level Chief Diversity Officer,” Health Leads [], Aug. 10, 2020.

[2] Dr. Carol Swain, of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, says: “The greatest threat to American society today . . . is coming from the [DEI] industry. It is steeped in Critical Race Theory, which is Marxist. It divides people.” See her discussion, “The Ingraham Angle,” Fox News Channel, Feb. 17, 2021.

[3] “Q&A With Dr. Janice Underwood,” Health Leads, Aug. 10, 2020; Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 187.

[4] J.F.C. Fuller, The Conduct of War, 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial, and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1961), 211-12.

[5] Victor Davis Hanson, “Wokeism Is a Cruel and Dangerous Cult,” American Greatness [], Jan. 23, 2022. He writes: “Wokeism’s natural logic is to destroy the lives of people of both genders, of all races, and – if need be – those of every age, all to leverage an otherwise unworkable ideological agenda.”

[6] “Q&A With Dr. Janice Underwood,” Health Leads, Aug. 10, 2020.

[7] The writer took this quote from “Join Black Lives Matter in Our Request for a Meeting with President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris,” Black Lives Matter official website, Nov. 9, 2020.

[8] Victor Davis Hanson, “The Debasement of Our Professional and Political Classes,” American Greatness [], Apr. 10, 2022.

[9]  One VMI alumnus, Class of 1979, wrote in an email on April 16, “Shapira is an absolute disgrace to journalism.”

[10] Quote not from the petition itself but from the organizer’s interview on the John Reid Richmond Morning News radio program [], Jan. 18, 2022.

[11] Gary Robertson, “On the line: In the shadow of controversy, VMI marches forward,” Virginia Business [], Feb. 27, 2022.

[12] Robertson, “On the line: . . . VMI marches forward,” Virginia Business, Feb. 27, 2022.

Forrest L. Marion

Forrest L. Marion graduated from the Virginia Military Institute with a BS degree in civil engineering. He earned an MA in military history from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in American history from the University of Tennessee. Since 1998, Dr. Marion has served as a staff historian and oral historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Commissioned in 1980, he retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 2010. Forrest L. Marion graduated from the Virginia Military Institute with a BS degree in civil engineering. He earned an MA in military history from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in American history from the University of Tennessee.


  • Rick says:

    So, how long does VMI have to wait for an apology from Mr. Shapira and his inept comrades of social butterflies? Will they be honorable and issue an apology for their malignant maligning of ALL past graduates of the Institute and the current corps of cadets? I hope it’s soon, but then we are still waiting for an apology for the North Carolina students who were falsely accused, ya know, how many YEARS ago?


      Don’t hold your breath on that one. These people never apologize. They are intellectually and morally incapable of doing so.

      • Rick says:

        I agree. My comments were ‘tongue-in-cheek’ knowing it would not be noticed by those to whom it was directed. Thanks for your comment.

  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    If your middle name is Lee or Longstreet, you have the greatest name in Southern history.

  • Valerie Protopapas says:

    These parasitic traitors would never have achieved as much as they have of our destruction as a people and a culture had we stood up to them from the beginning. But the Klan and lynching were trotted out to show how wicked we are while daily headlines showed where most of the crime was located ~ and it wasn’t with ordinary middle class people white OR black. We have allowed the criminals to determine what is a crime and as a result, we are being murdered and moved onto the trash heap of history without so much as an outcry. Time to stop being afraid of being called names and standing up for the Truth. That’s what Col. John Mosby told one of his men to do in a dispute, “Don’t stand up for me, don’t stand up for him, STAND UP FOR THE TRUTH!”

  • Tom Wiggins says:

    I imagine there will be no apology, he was accusing “white” folk. Also, it takes a degree of humility and character to ask forgiveness.

  • Rick says:

    I have been hoping that with a new governor AND a new Attorney General for Virginia that a program of legal wrangling would be taken to apply some accountability to former Governor Northam and his cronies for their despotic actions; saving the Commonwealth, who gave us most all of the Patriot-Founders of Constitutional government, from sliding further into the socialist hell-hole. No sign of that happening – yet, but I still have hope it will come to pass.

  • Ken Comfort says:

    IN MY OPINION: I will be disappointed if the wrongs that have occurred to VMI and this country over the past decade are allowed to go uncorrected. The investigation continuing today over the “January 6” debacle could possibly be a model to use to get to the bottom of the attempted coup by the “left” (BLM , various news media, wokeness etc.). Allowing it to go uncorrected invites another future attempt to destroy this country.

    We seem to talk, talk, talk and do nothing to correct offensive actions.
    It is time to push back against this country’s enemies…yes, including domestic ones.

    VMI ’67

  • Rick Swan says:

    AMEN, especially your last paragraph! It’s time to make ‘responsibility’ part of the destruction.

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