How many topics can the editorial board over at the Republican Times-Disgrace, aka Richmond Times-Dispatch, be dead wrong about? Well, we can add another one to the list: this time the case of the Koch brothers buying up one of our leading state-funded schools, GMU Law School, and renaming it after an extremist and bigot, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
According to the Republican Times-Disgrace, concerns about this situation – and there are many serious ones, which I’ll get to shortly – are no more than “laugh out loud” “hand-wringing and pearl-clutching.” Why? It’s hard to say, because frankly, this editorial reads like it was written by a (not-very-bright) third grader.
Thus, the editorial begins by calling Del. Marcus Simon, the author of a petition calling for “further examination” of the name change an donations — a petition that has gathered more than 1,200 signatures – a “concern troll.” (Note to RTD: that’s the exact opposite of what Del. Simon is in this case — click here for a definition of what “concern troll” actually means, as opposed to whatever you erroneously think it means)
The RTD screed then moves on to the classic “everybody knows” line of non-argument, in this case that since academia supposedly tilts “heavily to the left,” it’s a great thing that the right wing finally bought up a school of its own. Go (red) team! LOL
In short, the RTD’s argument combines the following elements: a) an ad hominem attack – but no serious counterargument – against one of many people (including GMU faculty members) raising serious concerns regarding the process and substance of this name change; b) essentially, elementary-school-playground-level “everybody knows” they started it; c) a non-sequitur, in this case that other schools are named after people, so…whatever; and d) nyah nyah!
I mean, I’d say this is beneath the dignity of the RTD editorial board, but this is the same bunch that stood by Eric Can’tor for years and that recently claimed, without any evidence whatsoever, that Gov. McAuliffe’s restoration of ex-felons’ voting rights amounted to “flouting the state’s Constitution.” (Note: for a good explanation of why McAuliffe is very much within his rights to do what he did, see Sen. Scott Surovell’s explanation here).
As for the change of GMU Law School’s name to #ASSLAW, this move raises a host of serious, substantive issues which the RTD editorial board would clearly prefer not to address, and/or don’t have the intellectual capability of addressing. In contrast, here’s a really smart attorney explaining what’s at stake here (bolding added by me for emphasis):
In my mind, this is not about Scalia, at least not any more. If someone really wants to name a law school after him, following proper procedures, fine.
My problem is that this law school is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It’s not a private school (like the University of Chicago or Liberty (Falwell) University (which started its own law school the old fashioned way). Even with this money, most of its funding comes from the state. It’s mission is to educate Virginians. Its mission is not to propagate an ideology. There is no room for secret deals with the State government. It is not proper for the state to sell naming rights to its law school. And it is certainly not proper for a private donor to give money (and the state to accept it) conditioned on a state official (the Dean) staying in office, and conditioned on the state teaching a certain ideology. We just had a governor convicted of a felony for less.
That’s what I’m concerned about – selling control of a state agency to the Koch brothers. (As if they don’t already own the majority of the General Assembly).
Of course, the RTD doesn’t address any of these concerns. Nor does it address this letter from a dozen Virginia State Senators and Delegates (all of whom are “concern trolls,” I presume? LOL) raising a host of concerns including lack of input on this move, the future of GMU Law School, academic independence and integrity, etc. None of which, I’d reiterate, have been seriously addressed by the RTD – or anyone else, for that matter.
Finally, I’ll turn the mic over to Del. Marcus Simon, someone who’s shown tremendous leadership on this issue, and who should be praised for that leadership – not insulted, even by the likes of the RTD. As Del. Simon told me earlier today:
It’s disappointing that the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board would resort to name-calling rather than addressing the issue on its merits. They keep trying to dismiss serious, substantive objections as being politically motivated and/or insincere. Nothing could be further from the truth.