Thursday, August 20, 2020

Diversity Thursday

Yes, I know.

This is a toxic tome to be doing DivThu, but sometimes you read something from a person whose intellect you respect that makes you pause with a sigh; you have to comment.

If not me, who? If not here, where?

For new readers, and to make things clear in this heated environment; let's reset the baseline for DivThu.

We do not address issues around race and ethnicity by hoping for a spoils system based on race and ethnicity. I'll repeat myself later; but that is a recipe for division and conflict.

To echo a great man; a just society focuses on the content of a person's character - not something as superficial as race, creed, color, or national origin. 

We are individuals with dignity and deserve to be treated as just that - not some widget to be sorted with other similar widgets defined by arbitrary characteristics.

Define objective standards and let the chips fall where they may. A perfect system, no - but less imperfect than a system that asks first - and places the most importance on - what you self-identify as your race and ethnicity.

Part of the problem with trying to discuss "diversity" in the military is the complete lack of critical thinking about where we are. No, not the "critical" as in "critical race theory," but critical as in the classic definition of such;
Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence.
In today's environment, it is a toxic topic where any slight lack of enthusiasm to approved dogma brings crowds with torches and pitchforks who don't want to discuss ideas - they just want to destroy anything and anyone not fully inline with their tribal emotions. 

That said; time for another Diversity Thursday. 

The opposite of critical thinking is emotional reaction. I don't think anyone who has paid attention to the topic of "diversity" would think that the US military does not think/worry/act on the topic. For decades it has been a top priority, tens of millions of dollars - perhaps hundreds of millions if you include all the paid cadre and collateral duty time - are spent each year specifically on this. From recruiting to officer training  it is always a top subject of concern.

We overthink it to the point we have even tried to cover what we mean by diversity as we all know what it is; race, self-described ethnicity, sex, and increasingly sexual orientation; that is what is measured. That is all the PPT cares about. It has nothing to do with "new ideas" or "different ways of thinking about things" or any of that. No, that is just camouflage because those pushing diversity-uber-alles are too embarrassed to say what they mean. 

There is nothing more racist than to assume that people think differently than others simply because of their DNA ... but that is what is being said. To be charitable, there are well meaning people who desire exactly what I desire; a society where we are all judged by the content of our character - not something so useless as the color of our skin or which part or sub-section of the globe our DNA or last name came from - they are just promoting tools that create the same effects they are trying to oppose. 

Dividing people like that is based on the most primitive and destructive secratian instincts. It also leads to conflict and division. However, a large portion of the human population is run on emotion. Even otherwise intelligent, well meaning people are ruled by emotion. There are also bad actors who like to use division and primitive-brain tribal instincts as a way to build a power base. Even worse actors actively strive to avoid constructive and open dialog in order to keep conflict going to ensure a secure job. 

We've all covered it through the years here. In line with the above, I was saddened to read this AM an article from a former Midrats guest writing over at Wired about his experience working in The Pentagon.
The Pentagon’s lack of diversity is jarring. Right now, in the Department of the Navy, the secretary, undersecretary, all three assistant secretaries, the chief and vice chief of Naval Operations, the commandant and assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, the master chief petty officer of the Navy, the chief information officer, and the chief management officer are all white, and all but two of them are male. In my senior-level meetings, roughly 95 percent of the participants were white, 90 percent men. If you believe diversity of experience and perspective improves decision making, this should worry you. ... Finally, the Pentagon must make diversity and inclusion a priority. Right now, persons of color represent 43 percent of our military force, but only a tiny fraction of senior leadership. Of the 41 four-star generals and admirals, for example, only three are persons of color; only one is a woman. In the Navy, African Americans comprise 17 percent of the enlisted force but only 5 percent of admirals. The secretary of defense needs to revolutionize recruiting, mentoring, and promotion so we have an officer corps and civilian executive pool that looks like America.
"...revolutionize ... promotion..." - Define that. If that leads to quotas ... we need to have a serious stand-down.

With his education and intelligence, I would have hoped for even a moment of mentioning that the US military's intake is the nation's outtake. John means well, but he's missing the larger story. 

With the entering disparities among racial and ethnic groups when it comes to education, crime, predilection to serve, and career path preference - you start out with a dataset out of line with a full population demographic summary. 

All these things impact what our force looks like, especially among officers. All this is well known. As outlined above, our Navy has and continues to do all it can to make sure all doors are open. I think it has made some mistakes, but on balance you cannot say an effort and focus is not there. For those who want more done, then focus on the nation's outtake. What are you doing to improve underperforming public schools? What are you doing to eliminate environments that enable a criminal enterprise as an attractive option for young people? What are you doing to have a military presence distributed as widely as possible, vice concentrated in just a few megabases? 

In 2020, that is what we can do to help diversity in the military. Even better will be the general impact on the nation as a whole. We do not need to go the direction of Yale and others who decide in order to "make the numbers work" and feel good about themselves, that we start practicing in a racist manner in order to "make the numbers work." The Navy does not need in a few years a lawsuit to bring out all our dirty laundry.

We need leaders who are willing to stand up for our service's record, focus and culture when it comes to creating the most equitable structure possible for individuals to invest their hard work and intelligence towards their and their nations improvement.  

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