Monday, November 16, 2009

The Bitter Fruits of Good Intentions

As we seem to have reached an Operational Pause in the USNA Color Guard racism scandal, perhaps it is time to update everyone on the latest. If you need a review, or are new to the topic, please click here and follow the links to earlier posts and the background information then come back.

This post is going to have a different structure than most - three authors in one post. There may be some repetition, but that is OK. One report might be slightly different as another (our sources are different). Some of this is strong - but that is OK. Creative friction, love, and emotion create sparks. In a Representative Republic - the light and heat from sparks are healthy and helpful.

As those with first hand knowledge cannot or will not report on what happened, you will have to take 2nd and 3rd hand reports. One blind person cannot describe well what an elephant is - but three people can - especially if each one has a huddle of sighted people around them whispering in their ears. To give the best overview possible - I'm going to give you three blind men blogg'n.

We're going to have a post in three Acts; in the 1st Act, I will provide an overview of a few thoughts I have on the subject and report some of the information I received since last THU night’s ‘Dant call.

Act II will be by USNA Professor of English, Bruce Fleming. He has a unique perspective of having listened to dozens of MIDN on the color guard issue and the general atmosphere of racial discrimination that exists at the USNA. The MIDN talk to him because he is known as one of the few people there that a MIDN feels will keep their confidence and will be a listening ear to their worries, complaints and questions on what is a radioactive topic for almost anyone who is not a tenured professor – and even then – there is a price to be paid for intellectual and moral courage.

Act III will be a short, simple, and
modest proposal by a Commissioned Officer who is a long-time friend of this blog and has an exceptional pedigree.
Act I:

When I first posted on this two THU ago, I thought this might have a standard “24-hr News Cycle” that in the Blogosphere sometimes runs to 12hrs and if it is a good post, and will have an echo a day or two later as other bloggers pick it up. If you are real lucky – the print media will pick it up – you never know.

As the first word came to me on what was going on prior to the World Series Game that the USNA Color Guard was going to be in – I frankly thought is was a rumor based on a poor assumptions and miscommunication. Sure, I know the selective selection BS that the Diversity Bullies has everyone doing (in my career I was party to many episodes of the kabuki lie that we all participate in) – but I really did not think that it had gotten so bad that someone would pick out specific individuals to discriminate against. But, I was wrong.

Day after day, I started to receive more emails from parents, alumni, serving officers, and even staff and Midshipmen from Annapolis. Then I started pinging some of my regular blog-buddies, contacts, and spies to confirm what was coming across the Salamander transom. Especially coming on the heels of the
Honor Code fiasco, it reached a point that The Potemkin Color Guard had to be run that THU.

From there, things started to pick up speed. More people got in contact with me.
Navy Times picked it up. We went over 100 comments. Over the weekend I worked the story with the Washington Post. A close run thing, they wanted to make sure, like I did, that this was a ligit issue. They had a higher threshold to go over – but they ran with it as well about the same time we put out an update.

A week on, the story continued to grow. I was a guest on the
Michael Smerconish radio show, we put out a third update, Uber-bloggers from MichelleMalkin, JawaReport, PowerLine, Bookwormroom, MudvilleGazette picked it up as well as many other bloggers down the Technorati ecosystem. Professor Fleming was a guest on WBAL radio, and then I followed up as a guest on WTOP on SAT.

All the while – the traffic to my site increased almost four-fold. At the peak (on 11 NOV nonetheless, in a week dominated by the Ft. Hood attack), we tickled 7,000 page views that day – a holiday. When you consider that my site averaged 2,000 page views a day prior to this story – that is significant interest boost. As a matter of fact, since we ran the first story, the average page views have been a little more than 3,000 – a 50% increase. In a phone call I had with a member of the press who wondered what kind of interest this story had, those numbers – sustained – kind of answered that question - that and 100+ comments on my posts and over 200 at the Washington Post.

Why so much interest in something, discrimination is pursuit of diversity in the military, this time around? Well, a few things I think. First, unlike most goal/quota problems, in this case you can actually put a face and a name to the discrimination. Unable to fudge around it – the decision was made to actively discriminate on the basis of race. It was done in an institution that is supposed to be a meritocracy that belongs to an institution that relies on a system of fairness, impartiality, and professionalism. Racism as clear as this, red in tooth and claw, was to many inside and outside the USNA one straw too many. Enough.

And so, we find ourselves roughly two and a half weeks after the act – and the story is still bubbling. The latest milestone took place last THU. It was Dant’s Call, the Commandant of Midshipman, CAPT Klunder, facing ~4,000 Midshipmen.

From the reports I received, this was not the warm, fuzzy Dant’s Call that are supposed to take place. Sad, in a way. Dant was a
quite popular Dant as the story has been told to me. A professional’s professional, good guy in a tough job trying to do the right thing. I think that description still holds, but I don’t think his relationship with the MIDN will ever be the same.

Out of the box, Dant’s Call became an “Us vs. Them.” He started with a PPT trying to explain that race, ethnicity, and gender have nothing to do with anything at Annapolis. Everything the MIDN had been reading about differences in admissions, honor code violations, and the latest the color guard, are all misconceptions. That didn’t leave much wiggle room coming out of the box.

Evidently, the Dant does read CDRSalamander, as one of the comments here was confirmed,
"Sir, you see, I think we have an issue of age here. Your generation was taught to see color when you grew up, and your generation still does. MY generation was taught not to see color, and we still don't until someone from your generation reminds us to."
That was nice to see, as that is something we have hit on almost every THU for the last few years. The more that sinks in, the better. Will they act on it? No - I don't think so. The Diversity Bullies have an income to maintain - and many Boomers stuck in the 60s and 70s that are in power and their amen corner have too much invested in their cultish view of this country.

Evidently, the Dant stated that it was a lesson for him that generations see things differently and the younger generations are more color blind than his and older. He also stated that he didn’t ever give anyone something because of their race. Ok. Words need action - and that is the problem.

Then came questions. In a case of enthusiasm, emotion, and stage freight – it appears that a Plebe (4/C MIDN) asked a question asking the Dant to resolve two conflicting statements he made – concerning the conflict we brought up in the Washington Post article related post, “
The Mask Slips at Annapolis

Well, the Dant’s hackles went up due to perhaps the directness, and tone of the question. In his response said, among other things, he berated the MIDN that,
“If you’re going to quote me to the media, use the full quote and not sound bites.”

A bit defensive? Perhaps – but he is under a lot of stress. This has not gone well for him, and the 8v6 conflicting comments still have not been resolved. A good guy in a bad corner.

I found this part interesting. As most of you know, I support the repeal of DADT, but know that the good that would come from it would be ruined by the Diversity Bullies who will have another job security area – and they will scratch at good skin until it bleeds just so they can sell band-aids.

Well, in another question, the repeal of DADT came up. BZ to the MIDN who tied this together: the question was basically,
“When don’t ask don’t tell gets repealed, will there be diversity of sexual orientation?” The Dant’s response – probably, as required by law. Pre-emptive surrender, and perhaps he was caught off balance. Shame that was the answer, a lost opportunity, again, to defend the Navy as an institution. Phib’s answer? Simple. “If DADT goes away – then as leaders we should get the mindset of “Don’t Care. ” Do as we do now – lead, evaluate, and reward your Sailors on the basis of sustained superior performance and carry out the plan of the day. Next question.” Given what has happened recently – he probably wouldn’t have liked the follow up snark – “Just like we do with the Color Guard, Dant?” That would be, at the least, what MIDN 4/C Salamander would have thought.

A nice admission – but in many ways adds more questions was the Dant’s statement that he regretted his decision to cut two people out of the Color Guard. A snarky person present might think, “Because you got caught.”, but I think you have a view of the professional doing something he probably thinks he has to do, but doesn’t fully support doing. I am guessing here and may have it wrong, but that is what that reads to me. Sad thing though – the questions that statement brings up, if we got it right, goes right back to the conflicting 8v6 comments by the Dant and the PAO – backed up by press releases and official statements.

There is a lot more there – but this post will be long enough and I’ll leave it there. In the end though, what we don’t have is any debunking of the fact that we have a confirmed case of direct racial discrimination at Annapolis – discrimination excused and sandbagged away in a hope that opposition and the embarrassment of its exposure will simply fade away.

Outside USNA, the excuses usually fall into one of two areas. The first I find the most honest, an excuse that some support active discrimination against one group as long as it gives a picture others want put out there – that racial balance or the appearance of racial balance is more important to the Navy than performance, duty, hard-work, fairness, and honor. I don’t agree with that world-view, but in comments here and in places like
SailorBob and the Washington Post, you can hear that.

The second excuse bothers me more. Eventually a certain percentage of true believers in an obviously self-contradictory and corrosive cult will turn away from it – and as it is debunked, the fellow travelers will peal off. That is why the first excuse grouping doesn't bother me that much - there is hope.

One thing I cannot stand though is intellectual passivity. The second excuse is something like,
“So what. We have been doing that selective diversity selection cr@p for years. No big deal, it is just to put a face on the Navy – and in any event, it makes some in Congress feel better about supporting us.”

Talk about no core. That is no core. No perspective. No understanding of second and third order effects.

We also saw something else afterwords. It seems that some upper-classmen at Annapolis decided to pig-pile on the 4/C MIDN who asked a question. Their “peer-mentoring” basically was,
“If an CAPT says it is raining, but the sun is shining out side – you carry an umbrella and talk about how hard it is raining.”

Nice. And that is the attitude that gets us shipbuilding programs that cannot build ships, Commanding Officers who get relieved for things they have been doing since they were a LTjg, and in the end, has multi-piloted aircraft auger in or run off the runway because the junior pilot didn’t want to warn the senior pilot that his approach was FUBAR. Nice.

Before we move on to Act II & III (which I didn’t read prior to the writing the body of Act I), I wanted to end with a quote from a MIDN that summarized one third order effect of this decision. I like it – and it states why selling your honor, word, and integrity for a debunked, retrograde Diversity Industry is a cancer.

Every midshipmen came the Academy for a reason, and we all expected to be rewarded for our performance. We had great ideas about what the Academy stood for. We were told stories about the honor concept, and how dishonorable acts were not tolerated. We thought everyone would be equally held to the same high standard. And then we came to the Naval Academy and we found out that that wasn't quite the case.
Next is Act II of a three-part post. As a reminder, Act II is by Professor Fleming. He'll explain it.
Act II:

Last Friday the well-tended Yard of the United States Naval Academy—its leaves now all but fallen, and immediately removed from the still-green grass by our attentive grounds crew (our campus is in its entirety a National Historic Landmark, after all)—was abuzz. My classes were all but unteachable, to both plebes and upper-classmen: all the midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy wanted to talk about was the “Dant’s Call” of the night before. They had plenty to say.

This rare assembling of the Brigade to hear upper-level spin on a pressing problem was occasioned by what I call Colorguardgate, the removal of the week before of two white males from the USNA color guard that had been asked to perform at the World Series in New York, and the substitution of a woman and a non-white male for them. All stories agreed that the Commandant had made this substitution; things got complex when it turned out, once in New York, that the non-white male had forgotten his gear, so one of the white guys, who had been told to come along and watch the color guard he had been removed from, was put back. But one wasn’t; he protested in an e-mail; the Commandant ordered the Brigade not to talk to reporters or protest the apparent discrimination (the guy not put back has filed a grievance case with the CMEO—anti-discrimination—system). The story exploded into CDR Salamander, from there to the Navy Times and Washington Post, and to Fox News, radio shows (I was on one on Thursday, for WBAL Baltimore/Ron Smith Show) and the “blogosphere.”

The Naval Academy engaged in furious spin, with a cover story through our “don’t even pretend you believe us” Public Affairs Officer about this being a misunderstanding because the Dant had decided to march six members of the color guard, and then eight, and then six: there’s no outside evidence that this is true, incidentally; all that can be confirmed is that the two white guys were taken off. The only undisputed fact is that two white males were told, the day before, that they were off because they stood guilty of being white males and we needed a more “diverse” group to show at the World Series, and the only reason the people marched who did was the one “diverse” guy forgetting his gear.

This may be a trivial case of discrimination in the face of the perversion of admissions and the decimation of the honor concept (all reported on in recent weeks). But like some of those symbolic flash points, it was what set the Brigade off. They’d been talking about it for a week: I had visits from distraught students, e-mails in my box, pleas to talk about it in class—which I tried only half-heartedly to resist: this was a leadership lesson handed to us, a super case of What Not To Do. Why pass it by?

Hence too the Thursday Dant’s Call in response to the furor, an en-masse mando meeting of the Brigade in our cavernous basketball arena, Alumni Hall. And then on Friday morning, the impossibility of talking about Shakespeare in class: all the students could think about was the meeting of the night before.

“If only he’d just admitted that we do all this stuff,” a firstie said bitterly. “Only just admitted. I don’t ask him to fix it, even. Just admit the truth.”

But he didn’t. Another said: “All I wanted him to do was admit he made a bad decision. Everybody makes bad calls. Just admit he had done so.” But he didn’t do that either.

All the mids who discussed the previous evening with me agreed that CAPT Klunder, up to that point the golden boy of the Brigade—largely because he lacked the corrosive personality of his predecessor—fobbed off responsibility again and again: he wasn’t there, he didn’t make that decision, and so on. Over and over I heard, “I can never trust him again.”

Not only did he fob off responsibility, he again and again—so their report—ducked the question. And sometimes, out-and-out lied. During the question session he was asked about the preferential admission for non-whites. [ NB: This is by now a matter of public record; if you don’t believe Prof. Fleming, look at the composition of our remedial school NAPS that virtually guarantees admission to USNA: it’s half recruited athletes, some of whom are minorities, and the other half just minorities without the athletics, with some priors—and a handful of exceptions for political reasons. Last year NAPS instituted an even lower track than its usual remedial one, and threw out the fall trimester’s worth of grades—so intent is USNA on getting minorities through the system and to Annapolis. And the CAPT in charge was relieved, and now the Academic Dean—apparently because they were unable to make the magic trick happen of making silk purses out of sows’ ears. Or look at the composition of our remedial pre-college courses: last semester I took one of mine at random (I volunteered to teach these): 16/18 NAPSters, exactly half minorities, the other half recruited athletes. I can tell you how things get this way, but if you don’t want to listen to me, riddle me this: where are the similarly score-challenged white non-athletes? Hmmmm? They got REJECTED.] CAPT Klunder responded to this question, the woman telling the story assured me, by hiding behind a smoke screen of talking about the need for geographical diversity. We have minority students because congressmen sent them to us. Huh? Geographical diversity only kicks in for the COMPETITIVE NON-WHITE candidates who have to win their Congress(wo)man’s slate. Athletes and minority candidates are DIRECT admitted with NO REGARD to geography. They do not even have to GO VIA THE CONGRESSMEN. Can it be he really doesn’t know this? Instead he offered statistics carefully chosen to show that 50% of the cases recommended for separation in 2009 both for minorities and non-minorities, athletes and non-athletes, were approved: we’re even-handed, the statistics were meant to show, no preference for the recruited students. But the fact is that we don’t even let the cases get that far! Over and over I heard about an athletic department CAPT calling the honor board to postpone or cancel hearings of black football players. And virtually no one is put up for separation any more in 2009. Was this a sampling of two? The Dant, sticking to his script, didn’t say. And none of it impressed the students: virtually all rolled their eyes, though some by saying: “he’s a smooth performer. I’ll give him that. ”

Over and over the midshipmen expressed their intense disappointment with the Dant. He’s an 0-6! He has to tell us the truth! Me, I chuckled. Fat chance, I said. He’s a mid-level staff officer who takes his marching orders from the Supe, who takes his marching orders from the CNO, who takes his marching orders, apparently, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. If he acknowledged to you what everybody at USNA now knows, that preferential treatment for athletes and minorities skew admissions at USNA and produce our rejection of many stellar candidates in favor of less qualified ones, have rotted the honor system (statistics published in the Annapolis Capital showed minorities and athletes wildly over-represented in honor cases—and these are the ones that are allowed to go to adjudication), and have busted morale, he’d be liable for legal prosecution: what they’re doing is illegal. Of course he has to lie to you, I told my deeply disillusioned midshipmen.

For the students, and for me, the most central question asked by a midshipman produced the acknowledgement by the Dant that the mids’ generation didn’t see race, his did. That’s why, he was admitting, that the dinosaurs (as I call them) were embarked on this deeply destructive, logically incoherent (does a white sailor need a white officer all his own to perform well? That’s the implication of saying a black one needs a black officer), and toxic program that now almost everybody sees through. They see a Black where the midshipmen of today see a person. What more do you need to hear, I asked the students? He’s just conceded the point. And their lying when they have nothing more to stand on only erodes their credibility more. He’s unwittingly (I’m sure) conceded that this is an outdated, 1968 program of race-typing that lost its relevance in the 21st century: that’s why it’s so deeply destructive with the enlisted sailors and Marines of today. And oh yes: it’s Unconstitutional. There’s that too.

One midshipman asked, “when DADT—don’t ask don’t tell—is gone and there are openly gay sailors, does this mean we’ll recruit gay officers for them?” The Brigade laughed, but I’d say the question is the logical corollary of current policies.

All agreed their confidence in the Dant bottomed out when he shouted down a plebe (this after assuring that all questions would be respectfully entertained) asking a question that put side by side two quotes from the Dant, one to the effect that “we don’t discriminate” and the other acknowledging that he wanted a color guard that was “more diverse.” Of course Mr Nice Guy went away at this one and the yelling started: that’s the unanswerable.

They can’t have it both ways. Of course they discriminate. And the Dant’s stock is now zero with many midshipmen, they told me—only many of the firsties are looking forward to service selection next week, at which point, they tell me, they’ll be done with the whole sorry place. “Sir, I just don’t care any more”—their words verbatim.

This is so sad it’s scary. Ladies and gentlemen: you’ve paid close to half a million dollars per officer candidate (four times what the average ROTC officer costs) to produce this level of cynicism and discouragement. And you know what? If I were they I’d be just as cynical and discouraged.

Only I’m not. So I say: Fire the CNO, the Supe, the Dant, the Academic Dean. Let’s try this again, with people who can follow the Constitution they’ve sworn to obey.
Act III: A modest proposal by a commissioned officer.

Dear VADM Fowler and CAPT Klunder,

You have been leaders in the Navy's diversity initiatives. Since you are such strong advocates of ensuring the traditionally disenfranchised of our nation be given special consideration and casting aside white males because of their color and gender, please consider the following.

Benjamin Cardin was elected as a Senator from Maryland in 2006. He was an advocate of the same diversity initiatives you both favor. In the primary, he defeated Kweisi Mfume, an African-American. In the general election, Cardin defeated Michael Steele, an African-American. Benjamin Cardin is a white male. Had he stepped aside, either Mfume or Steele would have been a Senator and Maryland would have been represented by an under-represented minority. Instead, yet another older white man sits in the Senate.

You could both display the leadership that Cardin lacked by leading from the front. VADM Fowler, would you step aside from your position in favor of a more diverse flag officer? And CAPT Klunder, you too are an older white male selected for flag rank. If you become an admiral, you are denying the opportunity for a more diverse candidate to become an admiral among the ranks of our flag officers which is overwhelmingly white male.

You have both talked the talk to your command, to the community, and to the nation of applicants. It is now time to walk the walk and step aside for more diverse representation in the Academy's leadership if you really believe in what you say. If you're familiar with the analogy of using and egg and bacon breakfast to explain the difference between involvement and commitment - the chicken was involved, the pig was committed. If you are not committed to stepping aside, your words to your command, your admissions office, your brigade, are as empty as the false political concept of diversity that you both endorse. Or simply remember what Martin Luther King said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Our generation is generally blind to race and gender; we are not stuck in the 1960s. We elected an African-American as President. Did yours? Trust us to do what it right, not what your generation forces upon us based on the decades-old prejudices you saw as children or young adults.

VADM Fowler and CAPT Klunder, please make Martin Luther King's dream a reality and base admission, position, and promotion on merit and character, not on race and gender.

Very respectfully,
An officer in the United States Navy

UPDATE: So, does Fred make this stuff up too? I don't think so. Tell him that to his face - if you can run fast.

Look for the name of this blog - another person with first hand knowledge that shows the lie.

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