I am often asked how things are in Charlottesville now that the second anniversary of Smite the Right! has passed. Well, with apologies to Winston Churchill, I’d say: From Free Bridge on the Rivanna to the Stonefield Shopping Center on the stormwater runoff mitigation management zone on Route 29, an iron orthodoxy has descended across Charlottesville. Between these lines lie all the monuments and simple pleasures of the town’s past. The population lies in what I must call the Wokiness Sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to incessant aggressive virtue-signaling propaganda, but to relentless elite and mob determination to compel assumption of collective guilt for grievances, both real and fanciful.
In other words — it’s a mess.
In a town that once took pride in it, local history has become a club to enforce conformity, told from only one perspective — that of the outraged, offended, aggrieved, and oppressed. And like all propaganda, it has been reduced to a spirit-crushing bore. Its only fit subject is the short and simple annals of the poor and, of course, the glorious deeds of their selfless champions, one of whom definitely was not Thomas Jefferson. Culture consists of those forms of thought and expression that identify and interpret White Supremacy, Hate (always capitalized), violence, and oppression, excelling at intellectual feats like enforcing a single interpretation of the meaning of a crouch or a stance rendered in bronze. Now education exists to level, not elevate, even to the point of a major school reform that will be “ending the practice of pulling students identified as gifted out of the classroom in order to provide them with extra enrichment activities. Instead, there will be a switch to a ‘push-in’ model, and gifted specialists will work with all students in their regular classrooms.” By diktat, all the children are now above average, and what are the opportunity costs when it comes to enhancing the self-esteem of others?
And politics? The atmosphere has deteriorated to the point that even a City Council member, who acknowledges dutifully and often her status as a “white woman of privilege” and the imperative of embracing the “legacy of racism” and resultant “righteous anger,” admits that what now passes for political discourse has brought City Council deliberations to a “complete breakdown of respect.” The result? An inability to conduct public business.
In the weeks preceding the Smite the Right! anniversary, public celebrations of unity, diversity, and inclusion abounded, but sometimes even these prompted outrage as the perpetually aggrieved and abused confronted their imagined oppressors. When organizers of one Festival of Virtue or Reclamation or something of that sort petitioned the City Council to appropriate $35,000 over and above what had previously been approved to cover the cost of adding a performance by a rap artist, the three white City Council members who opposed were reviled as “Hitler’s best friends” by citizens in attendance, the more restrained of whom merely claimed the decision was motivated by racism. Subsequently the artist in question agreed to perform gratis, and presumably unity and reconciliation reigned. All the love and mutual respect celebrated in the round of August festivities unfortunately has not extended to Charlottesville’s cops. The force has since the end of 2018 experienced a “mass exodus” of officers, and the police chief blames a “toxic” environment with “people … cursing police officers” and their being saddled with “vocal and biased” civilian [police] review board members.
All of this proves that a town can be ruined by progressive wokiness, even without widespread public pooping and rat-borne diseases like typhus. With enough young entrepreneurs starting up businesses around town to be blamed eventually for the dearth of affordable housing and Jefferson’s statue still standing on University of Virginia grounds at two years and counting since Smite the Right!, Charlottesville’s outrage and grievance futures look healthy indeed.