As of this Monday, there a few things we do know as fact.
- Two Midshipmen were discriminated against, openly, by their chain of command based simply on the basis of their race and gender.
- USNA officials have not denied that this happened, in spite of multiple inquiries by reporters and interested parties.
There is the "8 vs. 6" controversy. If you followed the links from last THU's post, you would have noticed a difference between "6 going or 8 going" between press releases and the PAO's statement.
Here are the simple facts for this case. As anyone who has been on a color guard or precision drill team will tell you - you do not change the number of people on a team on a whim or at the last minute. If you train as a team of 6, you perform as a team of 6.
You do not, at the last minute, throw two more in there and execute - especially at a high profile event - if ever. If you do, your timing is off, your movements are off, and your commands will be off. It would look like a complete c1^5terf^ck. If you train with 6 - you go with 6.
Why, the apologists would say, did they travel with more than 6 then? Well, you goof - because you almost always travel with backup, especially at high profile events. At any time, someone could - as in this case - forget parts of their uniform. Or, especially around Philly and Yankee fans - some drunk idiot could spill something on you, throw something at you, or throw up on you and destroy your uniform. Nice to have the backup. Double if you have Red Sox fans to deal with.
One of the two MIDN who was bumped to make place for "Diversity" did get to march - because he went on the trip and one the Diversity selectees forgot his cover and shoes. Again though - that does not make up for the fact that for a bit, the senior uniformed leadership at Annapolis let the mask slip; they do discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, and national origin. They do it intentionally and with forethought.
What is telling in this case is that those in charge at Annapolis cannot defend their actions, or will not defend their actions. They have ordered the MIDN to clam up and refer everyone to the PAO. As we have seen, the PAO does not answer questions. What we have as a result, is the shameful rope-a-dope sandbagging that is more in line with a politician in trouble than a military institution.
In the course of this weekend, there have been two lines of defense for USNA's actions. They boil down to; (1) What you saw on TV was an all white color guard - so what is the big deal? Go Navy! Beat Army!; (2) Picking on the basis of race to show Diversity - so what? What is the big deal with that - we do it all the time.
Well, the first one is easy; read the full background. What you see isn't the issue. The issues is the active discrimination that is taking place.
The second is the most troubling. Have we as an institution become so accustomed to discrimination that it has become acceptable? As a nation, didn't we accept the fact that ongoing institutional discrimination is no excuse for having it continue? Isn't that why we had a civil rights movement in the first place?
That second excuse shows not only intellectual cowardice - but it also shows moral spinelessness on par with those millions of American citizens who blindly accepted Jim Crow laws because "It is just the way we do things."
Shame on those who use that as an excuse.
Then we have the main stream media. There is one member that I spent a fair bit of time with this weekend, on the phone and email, trying to scare up some sources for him. I won't out him because he was an honest broker with me - I will return the favor.
What I will do though is quote from part of the email I sent him after he told me the story was on hold, as "they" can't publish it without "someone" involved willing to go on the record about it.
That could be very difficult.
The Midshipmen at Annapolis have been issued a legal order not to talk to anyone. If they did, they would be subject to [REDACTED] and all that entails. They will not talk to you, and I wouldn't pressure or suggest they should.
The staff personnel I have talked to [REDACTED] state that they cannot go on the record on this as [REDACTED] would be put in danger. Those are not idle threats, that happens there - and there is [REDACTED] on a different issue.
Those still on active duty cannot go on the record either because they fear their next Fitness Report will be downgraded from what it would be otherwise.
After over two decades of commissioned service, I would say their fear is well founded.
I would ask you two questions:
1. Is there anything that you have found out that point you in a direction other than that a decision was made by the uniformed leadership at USNA to discriminate against specific individuals on the basis of their race?
2. If you had everything you had right now, and the two people discriminated against were black, hispanic, or Muslim - and they were specifically removed from an official event based on the fact that they were black, hispanic, or Muslim ---- can you honestly tell me that [REDACTED] would not run this story as is?
As a side-bar, I had an interesting exchange with one of my sources yesterday. I asked him to talk to you, on background, as he is very close to the issue. Though I know him, his name, his background, and his present position - he stated that he did not want to talk to someone from the [REDACTED]. Nothing personal to you though (hard to get a tone through email) - but to paraphrase, he told me, "I don't trust the [REDACTED] to keep my identity on background, and I don't trust them to get the story out in a true form either. It isn't worth the effort."And there we are. Will some other major paper take up the case? I hope so. Drop me a line - I'll give you everything I gave the other reporter - and more if I can get any.
That is him, not me, saying that. Sad to say, but the [REDACTED], in this case, is reinforcing its reputation among the rank and file military, and that is unfortunate.
This is a good, solid story, and you are missing it. By giving it a pass, you are reinforcing the stonewalling from Annapolis (send an email to [REDACTED] at [REDACTED] and he can give you the note-by-note song and dance that they give him on a regular basis), and you are letting two young men, who in under two years will be commissioned officers in the Navy or Marine Corps, know that, as they suspected, they cannot rely on the media to go after a story that has a theme that goes against the grain. These future leaders in the Navy will start their careers with a jaundiced view of the press, something they will take with them throughout their career - and an attitude they will share with their peers.
Sad, but there it is. It doesn't have to be this way.