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Ian Shapira Email

Hi Matt,

As you know, I’ve been working on an article about the conflicting visions between you and Cedric Wins over VMI’s direction and DEI reforms. I reached out to you last month by phone and text, but didn’t hear back. Here are my questions for you.

My deadline is Thursday morning. It would be great to get answers back by then.

Thanks so much.

Sincerely, Ian

  1. You formed the PAC to help VMI. How do you think the group has aided the school so far?

  2. You were very supportive in your class notes column of Cedric Wins when he was selected as VMI superintendent. Recently, the PAC released a statement questioning why he received a bonus, citing the 25 percent decline in enrollment. Why do you believe the enrollment crisis is Wins’ fault?

  3. Do you think Wins should stay on as superintendent? Or, do you think he should be removed as soon as possible? For either answer, can you explain why?

  4. Wins has made diversity, equity and inclusion a hallmark of the college’s reforms in the wake of the state-ordered investigation. The PAC has argued against DEI. I read the PAC’s essay calling for Gov. Youngkin to deactivate DEI in the Commonwealth. Can you explain why DEI is harmful to VMI’s Corps of Cadets specifically?

  5. Have you attended any DEI training sessions? If so, what were your impressions? Did anything alarm you, and if so, what? If you have not attended any sessions, have you spoken to cadets about their experiences in those sessions? If so, what did they tell you?

  6. On Oct. 17, author Kimberly Dark came to VMI and delivered a presentation to cadets. Two days later, on Oct 19., you appeared on WRVA radio and twice called her talk “garbage.” Did you attend her talk or listen to a recording of it before your appearance on the radio show? If so, what concerned you enough to call it garbage? If you didn’t listen to the speech in advance, why did you call it garbage?

  7. Are you the author of all the PAC’s cartoons?

  8. One cartoon in the new PAC newsletter showed a trash bin with a sign that read DEI and a woman stuffed inside and upside down with her legs sticking out. VMI’s DEI office is led by two Black women. Can you explain the meaning behind the cartoon and its intent?

  9. Wins called one of your most recent cartoons about a recent speaker’s visit “homophobic and racist.” He said you were “looking desperate and racist” in his own Facebook post before removing the comment and apologizing to you. What do you make of Wins’ reactions to your cartoons and his post calling you out?

  10. In early February, the PAC released an essay headlined, “The Spirit Speaks: Deactivate DEI -- a Call to Action.” Did you write this essay or did someone else in the PAC author it?

  11. You said at a recent PAC meeting at a Richmond brewery that the PAC has met with the governor, the secretary of education, and Youngkin’s chief counsel Richard Cullen. Were they receptive to the PAC’s stance against diversity, equity and inclusion? How would you characterize the outcome of those meetings?

  12. I watched the PAC’s meeting in Richmond on YouTube, where it was livestreamed. We downloaded the meeting and we are using about 30 seconds of the footage to accompany the piece. It’s the part where you tell supporters that you don’t have any problem with diversity or inclusion, just equity because you said it has links to Marxism and critical race theory. But why was the livestream later removed from YouTube? Who removed it?

  13. In 2014, when unrest broke out in Ferguson, Missouri over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, you wrote on your public Facebook account: “Utterly embarrassing: this nonsense, this Ferguson bullshit. Racism is worse in this country than I ever have ever seen. It is rampant. I’ve had enough. Animals. I guess now I am a racist too. You should be ashamed. Remove yourself from me.” You wrote in a comment beneath that post: “Let’s hope all of these destructive animals go home and build a plan to become law-abiding contributors instead of the arsonists, looters, muggers, rapists, drug addicts, pimps, whores, gangster asshole cowards that they obviously are.” Do you stand by those words today? If yes, why? If not, why?

  14. In late 2020, you opened a social media account under the username @EggBoyRises on Gab, a platform popular with neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The PAC also launched a Gab account in May 2021. In the EggBoy account, you drew a cartoon of “Egg Boy” and then wrote “Egg-Boy Uber Alles!” The phrase is considered offensive and was cut from the German national anthem a long time ago because of its embrace by the Nazis. It’s illegal in Germany to be sung at official events there. Why did you use this expression, “Uber Alles”? Were you aware of Gab’s reputation as a haven for extremists?

  15. Last year, on LinkedIn, you touted the Epoch Times as more “reliable” and “credible” than any of the traditional media outlets in the U.S. But the Epoch Times is widely considered a leading disseminator of misinformation. What about the Epoch Times has made it for you a more reliable, credible source of information?

  16. On LinkedIn, you wrote “liberals have imbued” the education system with the “toxic waste and fabricated storyline of systemic racial bias, engineered history, and perverted disgusting sexual hogwash.” Can you elaborate on what you mean?

  17. Late last year, you said on LinkedIn that “the biggest threat mankind faces today are over reaching governments currently working overtime to enable total control of the citizenry” and then wrote in the same post, “But for mankind, it’s the Dr. Evil Gepettos like the Klaus Schwabs, George Soros (and others) that create hell on Earth.” What did you mean by this exactly? Are you aware the Anti-Defamation League says that Schwab and Soros are popular targets among conspiracy theorists and antisemites?

  18. How do you believe that your social media history and presence on Gab impacts your credibility as the leader of a political group that lobbies against diversity, equity and inclusion programs?

  19. My story touches on some of your biography. Can you verify if all of the following is accurate:

    • You were born in Tennessee.

    • You are 60 years-old.

    • You graduated high school in Newport News, Va.

    • Your great-grandfather (William Madison Daniel) fought for the Confederacy under Stonewall Jackson, according to this oral history interview your dad gave.

    • Your father John “Jack” Spencer Jr. Daniel was a 1954 VMI alumnus who became an Army Ranger and served in Vietnam.

    • You had an older brother graduate from VMI in 1977 and another from VMI in 1982.

    • At VMI, you were the cartoonist and humor editor of the student newspaper, ran track, and served as "class historian" for all four years.

    • You joined Promaji in your senior year.

    • After graduation, you joined the Marines in 1985, became a fighter pilot, received an Air Medal for “meritorious achievement in aerial flight” in support of operations in early 1994 over Bosnia-Herzegovina. You remained active duty until the late 1990s and stayed in the reserves until 2008.

    • You served as VMI’s class agent for several years, writing a column on class members and events up until late last year, when you resigned the position. You left the job because you felt like you were not acting fairly by holding the roles of class agent and PAC chair.

21. In a PAC webinar from early 2021, you stated right away that the group was opposed to racism and discrimination. At the PAC’s November meeting in Richmond, you told supporters that your issue is with equity, not diversity or inclusion. You said equity was linked to Marxist philosophies and critical race theory. Is there anything you’d like to add to those comments or clarify? 22. For the article, I use quotes from you from an interview you gave me in mid-2021 that I have not used yet. Is there anything you’d like to add? Here is what you told me:

  • You were friends with several of your Black teammates on the track team.

  • “I’ve never seen anybody at VMI do anything racist at all.” And: “We didn’t sit around and talk about the Civil War...I don’t even remember talking about race — ever.”

  • You said the “most racist thing that I have ever seen come from anybody at VMI” was Gov. Northam’s medical school yearbook page.

  • I also mention, as I did in a prior story, that you believe that the state-ordered final investigative report into VMI drew conclusions that were not based on enough data or survey results. Would you like to elaborate on that?

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