After calling supporters of Joe Biden “ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian” in a Facebook post, Paul Ewell has resigned his professorship and deanship at Virginia Wesleyan University. His resignation was announced by the university after his remarks went virtual, even attracting a tweet from President Trump and sparking outrage from students and alumni.
The university statement, dated Nov. 16, was terse and to the point: “Last week, Dr. Paul Ewell resigned as Dean of Virginia Wesleyan University Global Campus. Today, the University accepted his resignation as Professor of Management, Business and Economics.”
A tenured professor, Ewell had made his comments on a private Facebook post that was made public by one of his “friends.” In his post, he asked Biden supporters and Democrats to unfriend him, alleging that they had “corrupted” the recent election, “our youth” and the country. “I have standards and you don’t meet them. I wouldn’t hang out with you in real life, I don’t want to hang out with you virtually either.”
‘I SPOKE OUT OF ANGER AND KNOW THAT GOD HAS FORGIVEN ME’
In an email to Poets&Quants, Ewell showed little remorse for his post, even after it attracted a storm of protest last week. “The comment was directed at some of my Facebook friends after they attacked my faith. I apologized to them and they apologized to me. We forgave each other and moved on. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
But he apparently had a change of heart after the clamor rose for his dismissal with more than 800 comments flooding the university’s Facebook page. In a statement to the student newspaper on campus, Ewell apologized for his comments as unbecoming of a Christian and asked for forgiveness. “I spoke out of anger which I should not have done,” he wrote. “Second, I don’t believe what I said. I have friends and family who are Democrats and I love them dearly. I have apologized on both accounts profusely. I set a poor example in that post of what a Christian should be. I know that God has forgiven me and already died for my sins. I hope others will forgive me as well.
“We all need to be a little less quick to anger and a little more willing to forgive and that certainly applies to me,” he added. “I am a Christian work-in-progress for sure.” Ewell also made an apology statement on his Facebook account, which has gone private in the wake of the original post’s reception.”
THIS MAN IS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO THE ENTIRE VIRGINIA WESLEYAN COMMUNITY’
His resignation occurred after many students and alums called for his head. “What a neutered response to what amounts to very clear hate speech by one of your tenured faculty,” wrote Ryan Shaw on the university’s Facebook page. “As an alumnus of the College, and veteran of the esteemed Religious Studies program, the xenophobic privileged post by “Dr” Ewell turns my stomach and spits in the face of the spirit of 95% of the faculty. We demand more than a milquetoast virtual slap on the wrist to the perpetrator of this attack on the liberal arts tradition of fair-minded critical thinking.
“This ‘man’ is an embarrassment to the entire Virginia Wesleyan Community from the youngest freshman to the oldest alumni. I expect to hear of a more ardent and stringent response to this attack on decency. I am proud to not be this person’s friend in any possible context of the term and I hope that the last string of connection (that he works at my alma mater) will be severed post haste.”
A few posters came to Ewell’s defense as well. “If he had said the exact same thing about Trump, he would have been hailed as a hero, given a raise and promoted,” wrote Dave Krafsig. “Leftists are hateful and vindictive. No conservatives allowed in academia.”
SUPPORT FROM TRUMP IN ONE OF NEARLY 25 TWEETS ON NOV. 15
Trump helped amplify Ewell’s original comments by quoting an NBC affiliate’s article about the incident with the comment “Progress!” Trump’s tweet, made at 9:55 a.m. on Nov. 15, had amassed nearly 175,000 likes, 38,000 retweets and more than 28,000 comments. It was one of nearly 25 tweets Trump made that day.
At first, the university issued a statement that did not condemn Ewell, much to the chagrin of his many critics. “The University is aware of a recent comment made on social media by a member of the campus community. These views and opinions are expressly the individual’s own. Civic engagement and religious freedom are at the core of the University’s values, and we remain an inclusive and caring community that empowers meaningful relationships through listening, understanding, and communication.
Later, however, Virginia Wesleyan President Scott Miller was more direct. “While we respect Dr. Ewell’s right to free speech, his comments, particularly coming from a dean of the institution, contradict the values and culture that are such a valued part of who we are,” Miller told the university’s governing board, according to the Virginian Pilot.