I want to take a little different tack on this week's DivThu. Flesh out a few things in the foundation.
Like many things twisted out of their original meaning - the goals of (D)iversity started out as a good and needed thing, (d)iversity. There was a time, decades before our newly minted ENS and 2LT were even born, that there was active and real discrimination against some minorities in the Navy - specifically people of sub-Saharan ancestry. That needed to be fixed.
Once all legal & policy barriers were removed and created an playing field of equal opportunity by ending wholesale discrimination; then we needed to keep an eye out for individuals who by acts of commission and omission were still discriminating on a retail level.
Bigots are a cancer to an organization as much as a thief. Cut them out or they will destroy the host.
You know the rest of the story - an industry fed by racial animosity, envy, frustration, and grevience-mongering rose to become what they once opposed - organizations who supported by acts of commission and omission, discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, and national origin.
From associating with benign but racialist organizations such as NNOA to outright cancerously racist organizations as La Raza, we joined with the forces of division in pursuit of metrics and happy outbriefs from "accountability reviews."
... and so on.
Most everyone has heard about some of the details of the firing of CDR Etta Jones, USN, former CO of the USS PONCE (LPD-15).
You know what? There is some good from this.
(CDR Etta) Jones was fired by Vice Adm. Harry Harris, then-commander of 6th Fleet, while Ponce was on deployment in the Mediterranean, a day after a command investigation by U.S. Naval Forces Africa was completed. Jones, Harris concluded, “demonstrated poor leadership” and failed “to appropriately investigate, report and hold accountable sailors found involved in hazing incidents.”Was her anti-male bigotry the final straw? No. But part of it ... yes. Let's run with that.
The investigator also found evidence that Jones had shown blatant favoritism toward her female officers and used demeaning words and micromanagement that created a hostile work environment aboard the ship. She failed to tell superiors about shipboard hazing in one division and in the most shocking incident, waved a loaded 9mm pistol with its safety off in the same room as two armed sailors during a shipboard security alert before handing it over.
We do have a problem with discrimination. No, no, no - for the moment ignore the official institutional discrimination of the Navy as resident with the Diversity Bullies and their ilk - just ignore them for a moment. Work with me a bit.
As a human institution, we reflect the human condition with all its glory and infamy. The best - and the worst. We have and will have bigots of all stripes, though our actual discrimination problem is small, manageable, and individual.
CDR Jones discriminated openly and blatantly against her male personnel. She was called on it, investigated, and in addition to other issues - VADM Harry Harris, USN held her to account. As. It. Should. Be.
CDR Jones happens to be female - but this doesn't matter. Male-Female; Female-Male. White-Black; Black-White. Asian-"Hispanic"; "Hispanic"-Asian. Any combo is wrong and needs to be stopped.
That is what we should do - not force a Balkanzied, tribalistic mentality on our Navy in pursuit of bad 1970s racial theories that just breeds bigotry by all instead of eliminating bigotry by a very few.
What we did with CDR Jones needs more attention, as this is how you ensure equal opportunity and a meritocracy - remove internal barriers. Educational and cultural barriers before people join the Navy are beyond our control - as they should be. This isn't Prussia after all.
Funny thing about this; as our friend at ILTCOHJ found out in the reports here and here - we seem to have a flag officer who does not get it.
While the ship was in port Bahrain, RDML (Meg) Klein (Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Five) requested an "all girls" photo and invited all of the female officers to dinner at her home.No. In DEC 2011 - that will not do.
(Encl 8, 15, 17, 18, 39)
The male officers were not invited to the dinner at RDML Klein's residence and several felt this to be a distinct professional disadvantage. (Encl 15, 18)
Hey - another outgoing question we ask a lot here; will we hold a Flag Officer to the same standard we hold a Commander?
Post Script: I ask that we let CDR Jones pass in peace. Command is a difficult place, and not a place for everyone and every personality type. That doesn't make CDR Jones a bad person, or a bad officer to a certain extent. The pressures and requirements of Command just did not fit her skill set.
I like this marker the Navy just set down. It needs follow-through, but it is a good marker.
A nod to CDR Jones; she did leave with class.
“I have apologized to my crew, my mentors, my supporters and my family for the circumstances which resulted in both my [nonjudicial punishment] and my removal from command,” she wrote. She noted the ship’s imminent decommissioning after 40 years of service and said, “For any distraction that my situation has created, I issue a very personal apology to the crew members of the Ponce and it is my hope that the public will not overlook their positive story.”Yes, her leadership style will have some secondary effects on those on the receiving end, but ... no one was killed.
UPDATE: A member of the front porch who will remain nameless reminded me of something that happened on one of RDML Klein's previous jobs. Hmmmmmm.