In an editorial Suspension, (Jan. 15, 2009) a Richmond-Times Dispatch editorial writer notes that the University of Virginia (UVA) is suspending classes from 11:00 a m to 1:00 p m on Inauguration Day. The editorial further notes that other institutions of higher learning are doing things such as taking buses to Washington.
The editorial notes that this is a historic inauguration worthy of celebration. But it cannot resist mounting a self-styled conservative hobby horse--liberal bias in academia. It concludes: "It seems doubtful that UVA and other schools would be so enthusiastic about a black president-elect named, say, Clarence Thomas."
Then came Times-Dispatch columnist Karin Agness with a column Why Did UVA Cancel Classes Only This Time?. (Jan. 18, 2009) Ms. Agness notes that classes were not canceled four years age or the second inauguration of President George W. Bush, and she answered her rhetorical question with predictable self-styled conservative tommyrot. You guessed it--liberal bias in academia. Ms. Agness is a law school student at UVA, and she says she will attend those suspended classes.
Will she teach herself?
Well, at least the editorial writer gets the historical significance; although, Minister Louis Farrakhan has a better chance of being elected president than Mr. Justice Thomas.
There is ordinary history, and there is unique history. President Bush's second inauguration was ordinary history. President-elect Baraka Obama's inauguration is unique history. When President Dwight Eisenhower's second inauguration took place in 1956 Mr. Obama would not have been able to attend UVA. When President Lyndon Johnson was inaugurated in 1964, Mr. Obama's parents' marriage would have been illegal in Virginia. The founder of UVA--the venerable President Thomas Jefferson--was a slaveholder.
Mr. Obama's inauguration means our country has moved another step away from its racist past.
I teach at a university, and one of my classes has been cancelled for observation of Inauguration Day. But I, and any competent teacher, can compensate for a missed class. But I doubt if I, or any teacher, can teach anything that could compete with observing the inaugural activities of this momentous ocassion.
And I am willing to pay new money to watch a recording of Ms. Agness attending those suspended classes.