Monday, November 09, 2009

The mask slips at Annapolis

Sadly, I think Franz would fully understand where we stand WRT The Potemkin Color Guard of Annapolis. If this is a new subject for you, please read the post from last Thursday and then come back.

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.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to exchange a few emails and talk on the phone to some people close to this issue, in addition to a reporter for a major East Coast newspaper who was working on an article on this subject - but I will get to him later.

Let's for now go over some details that from this weekend that fleshed out a few things.

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.

He agreed to keep things on background, so I will redact some of the specificity in my own email in line with that.
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."

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.
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.

Going back to the "Excuse #2" before I am done for the day. This is different than most Diversity outrages we know of. When the Navy selects for Diversity in most cases, it is almost impossible to identify a specifically wronged person. Usually you are dealing with percentages, quotas, cherry-picked picture backgrounds, select billet detailing, and personal race specific "select these guys" lists that promote "Specific Selection" vice "Specific Discrimination" where you can't put a name to the wronged party - it is just "some of Them" out of a larger group. You can't put a name to that person - it is just "X number out of the remainder...."

What is different here is that we have a clearly identified wronged party. We know the names - and those discriminated against know that they are the direct victim of racism - red in tooth and claw. It is personal.

And where are they now? By order, they are cut off from external support (as everyone knows, without information, a story dies). They are on their own to pursue whatever formal or informal grievance procedures they wish to. They are under huge pressure to just go away.

Is that really where we want to be in the 21st Century with a clear case of racial discrimination?

Oh, and for the Notre Dame game last weekend - from the reports I got, the two MIDN discriminated against during the World Series weren't on that color guard either. In exchange for your integrity and being to look yourself in the mirror - yea - that is a fair price to pay.

All they need to do is graduate with the highest GPA they can and get to the Fleet with their integrity intact. That is all that matters - yet they are standing on principle. Good for them - THAT is in the finest traditions of the Naval service.

At this stage, I would advise them to keep what they are doing, but don't be a martyr and give others a tool to beat you with. Also, don't sell your integrity cheaply - that is a cost you will carry your entire life. Let other's squirm and avert their gaze - keep your heads up and your eyes forward.

The story isn't over.
UPDATE: Welcome PowerLine readers! If you want the update from here after the Washington Post story ran - please click this.

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