Remembering Professor Grayson

SIOGxyLz2eN3ut0TaNnEtuzkgIf5Lcb4tRfQ2q4LBnzI4xivse21RlrvCAwuKMAbVFEEb8kXT3AZhs4QOfeWfXqBWLm_K1zzfUlflP5IR-OXR_fLDTH3RHNJ2oZrGkhjQl7zhl7vjaDC8Uh28imu20usms5Op8QkQqXe_n1t0qCzg4yZcUqbnIvqAVRZfQvGsZXMwJAZ0T8H5rPvLAQP3u6ltHOCfLast week, the Government Department of the College of William & Mary announced the death of Professor George Grayson; He died on March 4th.

My relationship with Professor Grayson was interesting to say the least.  I took but one of his classes, Latin American Politics.  I must say that I found the subject rather depressing, decades of one party rule, military juntas, and coups backed by the U.S. Government.  Although I earned a B or higher in all the rest of my political science classes, in Professor Grayson’s class I had to struggle mightily to acquire a C.

Also, when I began my studies at William & Mary, Professor Grayson had served as the delegate for the area since 1973.  Perhaps not surprisingly, he was a Democrat.  I was an exceedingly active member of the College Republicans and our group had hoped to unseat him.  He did leave the General Assembly during my time at William & Mary, but not due to any efforts on our part but rather as a result of his residence being redistricted into the 64th.  He did not challenge fellow Democrat Delegate Barlow and thus did not seek re-election after the 2000 Census.

Professor Grayson with for Mexican President Caderon.  Photo from the W&M Government Department
Professor Grayson with for Mexican President Caderon. Photo from the W&M Government Department

Although I didn’t have a particularly grand rapport with Professor Grayson given our unfortunate adversarial relationship, it is my hope that my fellow classmates have good memories of him.  I can recall one instance when he opened his home to me and my fellow students.  More importantly, I was impressed by his constant enthusiasm for the subject that he taught, spending considerable time in Mexico and elsewhere, often meeting with the leaders of those countries.

In memory of Professor Grayson, I wanted to share the image of one of his campaign signs, which I have held onto all these years.

Student Politics at W&M

On Wednesday morning, I decided to travel to my alma mater, the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.  As part of my journey, I hoped to meet with William & Mary Students for Liberty that evening.  While on the grounds, I decided to stop in to the office of student activities to discover what sort of political organizations existed on campus.

Besides the aforementioned Students for Liberty and the fairly traditional College Republicans and College Democrats, I also discovered William and Mary Students for Life, a pro-life group created by my former employers, Students for Life of America.  After a few email exchanges, I ended up attending a meeting of this organization.  Although the local Catholic church held a pro-life event at the same time, as thus lured away some of their attendees, Students for Life still had a pretty good gathering.

The William & Mary College Republicans
The William & Mary College Republicans

Even though I planned to leave campus on Thursday afternoon, when I heard that Pete Snyder would be speaking to the College Republicans, I decided to stick around, interested to hear what Pete had to say and to offer him a friendly hello.  Unfortunately, several minutes before the start of the CR meeting, the leader of the group announced that Mr. Snyder was unable to attend.  It was disappointing and cut their meeting pretty short, but these things do happen.  Nevertheless, despite the statewide losses and the defeat of Delegate Watson in the 93rd, the CRs seemed to be in pretty good spirits.

Although not an exhaustive search, I’m glad to see that political activism is still alive and well on the campus of William & Mary.

Remembering Margaret Thatcher

A portrait of Margaret Thatcher as W&M Chancellor by Nelson Shanks.
A portrait of Margaret Thatcher as William & Mary Chancellor by Nelson Shanks.

I’m sure you’ve already heard the news of the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher today.

Let me say that the Iron Lady was one of a handful of figures who inspired me in my early political days, right alongside Ronald Reagan.  She was a strong-willed woman who helped redefine the Conservative Party in Great Britain.  Much like the Republican Party in the United States today, prior to Thatcher, far too many within the Conservative party had given up on the ideals of a constitutionally limited government, merely accepting the greatly expanded power their national government had adopted over the years.  Rather than questioning some of the tasks and burdens that the government had undertaken (which is what any good citizen or government official ought to do), most politicians on the right simply sought to make their government more efficient.  Although facing tremendous pressure and blowback, especially from the big government supporters from within the Conservative Party, Thatcher spent considerable effort and political capital to reduce their government, transitioning the British to a more free market based economy.  In addition, she clearly illustrated the fact that principled women can lead just as well as their male counterparts.

Once Margaret Thatcher concluded her time as prime minister, she was still quite involved in the public sphere, serving as chancellor of the College of William & Mary from 1993 to 2000.  I’m pleased to say that while a student at W&M, I had the good fortune, not only to learn about her in my class on European Politics, but also to briefly meet Baroness Thatcher and have my picture taken with her (though I regret to say I cannot locate the photo at this moment).

Although I have never written about Margaret Thatcher on this blog before, which is a bit of an oversight on my part, I feel it is appropriate to take a moment today and thank her for the great work that she accomplished on behalf of the British people, the larger conservative movement, and in the history of the world.

Thank you again, Margaret Thatcher.  You were a wonderful and powerful woman who will be missed, but it is my hope that your legacy will live on forever.

A Couple of Feathers

Yesterday while browsing Facebook, I ran across the former logo of my Alma Mater, the College of William & Mary. The logo was a green W and M with gold trim accompanied by golden feathers with green tips. I say former logo as it was retired sometime in either 2006 or 2007. The logo did not simply fall out of favor or was in need of a modern facelift; rather, in another case of political correctness gone amuck, it was deemed offensive by the NCAA. But wait! You see Native Americans might take offense to the feathers. What? Feathers?!? First of all, how Native Americans have a monopoly on feather depiction is simply beyond me. Second, if you care to examine potential insensitivity in sports, what about the Washington Redskins or the Chicago Blackhawks? What offends more, Chief Wahoo or a couple of feathers?

Assuming Native Americans have an exclusive right to feathers, let’s move on and consider other national symbols. How about my ancestors, the Germans? What symbol or symbols do you think of when it comes to Germany? Ok, not that one. Although the swastika originated somewhere in India and Pakistan, and was used by the Roman Empire, in the hands of the Nazis it was infused with much evil. That symbol is pretty much beyond redemption in the western world given its association with totalitarianism, rabid nationalism, militarism, and genocide. So how about the Tatzenkreuz? The what? You should know it as the shape of the Iron Cross. Although originating much earlier than the Iron Cross, the Tatzenkreuz came to symbolize the rise of the modern German state both before and during the Nazi Era. Not only used as awards, it also appeared on a number of versions of the flag of the Second Reich. Therefore, should I, as a descendent of Germans, be offended when I see it used by others? Hardly. But, Joshua, you say, that’s different! Is it really? Is it just because of Native Americans minority status? Although whites make up a majority of the American population, I assure you that those of German ancestry are in the minority. Should we be afforded special rights and privileges too? Taking this argument to its illogical conclusion, I wonder if we want a society where every person and every group is treated the same under the law or do we wish to be divided and pitted against each other in racial warfare?

All I ask for is my college logo back. Are two feathers that offensive and racially inconsiderate? If you think so, feel free to tell me why. Unfortunately, I know that the W&M debate is over. Common sense fell prey to liberal/feel-good sensibilities back in 2006, but that doesn’t mean that it has to in the future. Honestly, can you imagine all that fuss over a couple of feathers?