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Journalist David Ignatius Delivers 2019 Fitzpatrick Lecture

Dr. Byron Hulsey ’86 shakes hands with David Ignatius at the conclusion of the Fitzpatrick Lecture on Thursday, September 19.

By Audric Gupton ’20

Last Thursday, American journalist David Ignatius delivered the highly anticipated 2019 Fitzpatrick Lecture. 

Ignatius began the lecture by introducing himself and comparing his experience at St. Albans School to ours at Woodberry Forest. He described the mission of both schools as places which cultivate “a high sense of honor and moral integrity,” adding that “that tradition is why schools like yours and mine survive.” Later, he spoke about how his time at prep school stuck with him, sharing a story about how his headmaster reacted to his unlikely key tackle against archrival Landon by calling him “Tackler” every time he saw him in the hallways.

After endearing himself to the audience, he spoke on a variety of interesting political and economic issues that affect America today.

One such issue that Ignatius felt strongly about was how modern culture has exacerbated the consequences that can occur from one mistake.

He explained that “One mistake can be ruinous.” In his view, however, “To achieve anything real, [one must] step beyond what’s conventional,” urging listeners not to be afraid to make mistakes. He continued the lecture with his thoughts on the country’s political state.

Without hesitation, he referred to our government as incredibly flawed, blaming this on the two political parties, which have been pushing themselves to the extremes in recent years. He blames this on how a growing percentage of the population handles social media platforms and the news as an echo chamber for their political beliefs. Ignatius speculated that unwanted information would not only be tossed away by both political sides but could also harden their favored point of view. To support this, he referred to a Christopher Graves article, which argued that “Facts no longer matter,” suggesting people would only believe what they want to believe.

Toward the end of his speech, he spoke on the Hong Kong protests. He is uniquely qualified, as he recently visited the country and was tear gassed (though wearing a gas mask) while covering a protest. After explaining his trip, Ignatius delved into how the Hong Kong citizens want what Americans have and expressed his support for them.

Later, he predicted the next election would be “A test of character.”

 To end the lecture, he asked the crowd to think about how they could help the world. Then, he concluded with the words familiar to him and every Woodberry boy: Chose the hard right over the easy wrong. 

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