This is how you do it: Make woke academics live up to their own rules

Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” apply to all radicals, including those who take the radical position that patriotic constitutional conservativism is a good thing. Conservatives need to enshrine his sixth rule: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” That’s the wonderful move the descendants of T.C. Williams made when the University of Richmond deleted his existence.

The University of Richmond is a private liberal arts college in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy. It was founded as a Baptist institution in 1830 and officially became a college in 1843. During the Civil War, its entire student body enlisted in the Confederate Army, while its buildings were a hospital for wounded Confederate troops.

The college fell on hard times after the Civil War and was saved thanks only to a $5,000 donation ($93,332 in 2023 dollars) in 1866 from James Thomas. Thomas’s papers are at the Duke University Library, which describes him as “one of the largest of antebellum tobacco manufacturers.” If he wasn’t a slave owner, I’ll eat my…well, I don’t have a hat, but I’d eat it if I did. [UPDATE: I don't have to eat my hat.] No schools or buildings, however, carry his name.

And then there’s the law school. It was founded in 1870 but got its real boost in 1890 when T.C. Williams, a trustee, passed away, and his family donated $25,000 ($803,999 in 2022 dollars) to start an endowment for the law school. That endowment was so important that, by 1920, the University of Richmond renamed the law school. Up until last year, it was The T.C. Williams School of Law.

What changed in 2022 was the left’s crusade to wipe out the stain of American racism by renaming everything that carried the name of someone associated with racism or slavery in any way. (I’m still waiting for Democrats to rename everything associated with Woodrow Wilson, who segregated the federal government.) So it was that The T.C. Williams School of Law will henceforth be called the “University of Richmond School of Law.”

Image: The entrance to the “University of Richmond School of Law” by Snapper Tams.  CC BY-SA 4.0.

However, the college kept T.C. Williams’s money, leading to the beautiful and brilliant thing T.C. Williams’ descendants have done: Acting via their attorney, Robert C. Smith (also a descendant), they’ve demanded that the University return the money, including compounded interest, for a total of $51,000,000. Smith’s letter is seven pages long, but I’ve distilled the high points:

The Board has insulted the honor of my family….


I can tell you the difference between T.C. Williams and the cancel culture mob. T.C. Williams believed that all men were made in the image of God, and his mission was to love and serve others.


Obviously, the Board is interested in illustrating how virtuous it is to its very “left” leaning and out of touch political contingency. But how virtuous is it for the University to accept the services and largess of the Williams family for 150 years and then disparage the name of their benefactor? If suddenly his name is not good enough for the University, then isn’t the proper ethical and indeed virtuous action to return the benefactor’s money with interest? At a 6% compounded interest over 132 years, T.C. Williams’s gift to the law school alone is now valued at over $51 million….


Against all odds, T.C. Williams amassed a great fortune. [snip] And what did he do with his wealth? He hired thousands of workers, [and] many were blacks and women. Productive work and industry is the only thing that lifts people out of poverty.

Along the way, Smith also explains how idiotic it is to pretend that slavery was confined to America when one of the miracles of America is that an institution that has spanned human existence is no longer present. He also castigates the Board members for their ahistoric ignorance and arrogance in believing that they could have created a better society from humankind’s inception, making all other people throughout time moral midgets.

Smith isn’t just blowing smoke. He’s talking total war, including investigating the “morally superior” academics (seemingly including both board members and faculty) who have defamed his family: Satan worshippers, Marxists, people supporting mutilating children’s bodies, anti-free speech absolutists, and vaccine totalitarians.

In closing, Smith demands not only the return of the $51 million that the campus turned its back on when it defamed and rejected T.C. Williams but also “the other substantial gifts my family made to the University and the return of this money as well.”

And that’s how you do it: Make them live up to their own rules. Indeed, considering that the Confederacy-supporting college survived the post-Civil War era only because of a gift from a tobacco planter (which means a 99.999% certainty that he was a slave owner), there are only two honorable actions left to it: Either close the University down entirely and distribute all remaining cash and property to the descendants of those Blacks who worked, voluntarily or not, for T. C. Williams and James Thomas, or oust every employee and student who is not a descendant of slaves and sharecroppers in favor of those who are.

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