Glenn Youngkin won the governorship of Virginia largely on a platform of anti-wokeness. He campaigned against the critical race theory propaganda that was spreading through Virginia’s public schools. As governor, he has maintained that stance for the most part. He recently scuttled plans at the Virginia Department of Education to remove references on statewide tests to George Washington as the “father” of the country and James Madison as the “father” of the Constitution.
But, strangely, his administration is not challenging the politically correct renaming of Virginia’s community colleges. In fact, Jason Miyares, Virginia’s attorney general, has fought a civil lawsuit against the renaming of the schools. In July, reported Northern Virginia Daily, “Noelle Shaw-Bell, who is the counsel with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and for the Virginia Community College System” defended the schools against a lawsuit “filed by Woodstock-based attorney Brad Pollack, who is also a member of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors, on behalf of four Shenandoah County applicants — William Holtzman, founder of Holtzman Oil Corp., Gregory Kwiatkowski, Wade Guinn and Randall Hamman.” (Holtzman is a prominent donor to the Virginia GOP.)
“The lawsuit sought to reverse the name change of the schools arguing that the proper procedure for the switch wasn’t followed,” according to Northern Virginia Daily. But the lawyer Miyares sent to court, Shaw-Bell, dismissed the lawsuit as a meritless challenge to the “internal operation” of Virginia’s community colleges, and “Judge Joanne Alper dismissed the case in Shenandoah County Circuit Court,” reported Northern Virginia Daily. The case is currently under appeal.
This matter has left some conservatives puzzled. Why, they wonder, is the Youngkin administration in effect defending the woke policy of his predecessor, Ralph Northam? (Calls from The American Spectator to the office of Jason Miyares inquiring about this matter were not returned.)
Oddly, the issue of the woke renaming of Virginia’s community colleges never surfaced during the 2021 campaign in Virginia. And yet it was an open outrage, pushed not by communities but by a left-wing ideologue then at the top of the schools, Glenn Dubois, the former chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.
“The naming of a Virginia community college should reflect the values of inclusive and accessible education articulated in the VCCS mission statement, with special emphasis on diversity, equity, and opportunity, and be relevant to the students it seeks to serve and to the geography of its service region,” declared the Virginia State Board of Community Colleges. Through his manipulation and strongarming of this board, Dubois orchestrated name changes across the state last year: Lord Fairfax Community College became Laurel Ridge Community College, John Tyler Community College became Bridgepoint Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College became Virginia Peninsular Community College, and Patrick Henry Community College became Patrick & Henry Community College.
Dubois cast these admired historical figures — Tyler was America’s 10th president, Nelson and Henry were heroes of the American Revolution, and Lord Fairfax was a friend of George Washington who administered Virginia during the pre-revolutionary British period — as slaveholding monsters. “We enroll lots of people whose ancestors were enslaved, were marginalized, were clearly taken advantage of,” said DuBois. “And what do you say to those students when they’re looking at some of these names?”
But few students were clamoring for the name changes. Nor were Virginia taxpayers, who had to pick up the significant costs for it. The movement to change the names came from Dubois and other critical race theory proponents, for whom such iconoclasm is central to their left-wing revolution. To discredit America’s traditional political order and replace it with a new one, they must discredit America’s founders. To create a new America in their own left-wing image, progressives must erase American history. Consequently, these battles over name changes are far from trivial. The victors in them will determine America’s future.
“Today, I don’t know why anyone would want to name a community college after a British lord,” DuBois said as he moved to change Lord Fairfax Community College to Laurel Ridge Community College. “It just doesn’t make sense.” Only a woke revolutionary determined to cut America off from its origins would make such a fatuous statement.
Virginia Rep. Bob Good opposed the name change to Lord Fairfax Community College, noting the ahistorical nihilism that lies behind it — a nihilism that would mean altering almost everything in the state.
“This decision is a direct response to the ‘cancel culture’ movement, which looks to reject people and ideas that do not fit the current politically correct narrative,” he wrote to DuBois. “Efforts such as these encourage an endless cycle of renaming institutions, buildings, and cities across the country under the ruse of political wokeness.”
Given the stakes in these controversies, why would the Youngkin administration support the woke renaming of community colleges? Miyares has no obligation to send lawyers from his office to defend the change. The Youngkin administration has changed course on other destructive Northam-era policies. Why not that one?
Monique Miles, a black female conservative, worked in the office of Miyares as a deputy attorney general of government operations and transactions. But she says that he fired her after the Washington Post conducted a smearing probe of social media posts she had written about the protests on Jan. 6, 2021. In an interview with The American Spectator, Miles said that the Youngkin administration is not as staunchly anti-woke as it appears. She said that “there are a lot of Never Trumpers in it” who are “hypersensitive” to what appears in the liberal media. “There is a culture of fear,” she concluded.
National conservatives are understandably rooting for Youngkin, who represents a welcome measure of common sense in a politically tricky state. But they also know from bitter experience that selectively conservative Republican governors don’t wear well over time. The woke renaming of Virginia’s community colleges may seem like a small matter. But it isn’t. It goes to whether or not the state will remain connected to American history and tradition. If the nihilistic vision of Dubois prevails — and does so not in spite of the Youngkin administration but because of it — conservatives won’t forget this betrayal.