Thursday, October 08, 2020

Diversity Thursday

There are some DivThu that simply write themselves … and there are some Thursdays that I simply don’t know what to post because there is so much … often from the same place. 

 This DivThu let’s turn our attention to USNA. Some of you may think I’m going to get involved with the 1/C MIDN who got a bit over his skis on twitter, but RedState covered it in great detail. Read it all here - but focus on the comments and actions of uniformed leadership and the interplay of football. It speaks loudly how much USNA has brought inside its lifelines all the worst aspects of civilian universities from the warping effects of alumni sports fetishes to fear of the Woke Red Guards. I’m not going to cover that. No, I’ve got something better that has a connection to both as well. 

You don’t have to be a USNA graduate to know about the Tecumseh tradition. Well, once tradition. 


I have had multiple people reach out to me on this since mid-Summer, but now that football season is upon us – the issue is breaking above the background noise. 

I warned years ago that, as people are policy, that the USNA’s desire to compete on the US News and other college ranking self-licking ice cream cones, that they were going to hire people who are focused on the same things their colleague in civilian universities focus on and do … which may not fully align with what the US taxpayer thinks it has service academies for. 

Sure enough, when you dig through the public and private exchanges on the topic, it becomes clear what is going on. You have a group of civilian professors who are pushing this issue along with a select group of Woke Youth Brigades to give them cover. 

Professors using students as shield and sockpuppets is one of oldest radical tactical moves in the book. I won’t name them, because they are the scorpion to USNA’s frog; this is their nature. USNA invited them for the ride, they are only acting as to their nature. Heck, in one interview, one of the professors involved stated, 
“My initial interests were centered solely on questions of race and identity formation. But I realized that I had an opportunity to tell an important story about maritime communities in the Caribbean often forgotten in histories of the plantation complex and postemancipation labor struggles.” 
Of course, such a person would look for some way to manifest her interests in the bare and rocky soil of Annapolis. I don’t fault such a person. They are what they are. 

What I find most interesting is the utter and complete terror uniformed senior leaders have when faced with such a challenge. These are people who have faced the dangers of combat and a career in the military … and yet when faced by the Woke Brigades, they turn in to things we used to tut-tut about when we read about them in communist countries. You can see them trying to find a compromise, but they simply do not understand their opponent. You cannot make them happy. They demand that you agree with 100% of their opinion – and that is just that, and opinion – but they will be content with your submission.

Sadly, many others have jumped on the bandwagon hoping that by doing so, they won't be denounced. Why sad? Many of these are historians. They know history and its patterns. They know what this is ... and yet they play along with the script. 

They will join the surrender, but don't want to believe the battle is not over. The Woke Brigades will take this hill you surrendered without much complaint, and then they will move to another. Then another. It will not stop. We have all seen this before. They can smell your weakness. Your attempt to compromise will simply be used as a lever against you. 

Again … 

I am compelled to bring a matter to your attention and ask for your support.  Please indulge me as I bring two email threads together on an important initiative and then make a case for your patient support.
1) An email thread and attachment from Prof XXXXXX regarding the misnaming of Tamanend to Tecumseh and an articulate basis for why it should be corrected. I fully support correctly identifying that man and great leader, as well as who and what he represents. In that email thread I make the case that rather than a unilateral decision by leadership our best case to accomplish our mission of developing leaders and provide a tangible example of change relative the the nation's unrest on racism here on the yard is to put this in the hands of the Brigade Midshipman leadership with coordinated support and guidance, and take the risk that they will choose to do the right thing. 
This is still a work in progress; I meet with the Commandant of Midshipmen today.  It will be a topic of discussion with the SLT today as well.  Work in progress. 
2) An email thread below with attachments from Jodel on an exchange regarding "taking down" the statue of Tecumseh, including crass disparagement of faculty.  A close reading indicates the ability to make a compelling argument to at least one respondent amidst messy discourse but also the challenge and reaction to change from the outside (in this case perceived as faculty vs Midshipmen).  The continuing conversation on Jodel becomes more and more about pushback against it being a faculty initiative.  
My request.
If you support the idea of having Tamanend correctly identified by his correct name, please do not take lead on this issue as faculty.  You have a great role to play, a critical one, an essential one in asking the right questions and providing advice to Midshipmen to evaluate the issue with facts and then encouraging them to act with moral conscience.  In the same way that as XXXXXX I am not the main effort and my role is to provide XXXXXX, yours is to support and develop these leaders.  To make this your initiative is to invite a fight, opposition and reinforce the narrative that change of this type comes only from on high and at someone else's expense (School pride, traditions, revered symbols).  It's not that you can't get it done, it's just that there is a way to potentially achieve a greater good. 
  Instead I ask you to be informed (i.e. Read XXXXXX's article) and be ready to ask good questions if the issue is already broached or continues to come up. Please do not preach.
 Fact - No one wants to take the statue down.
- Tamanend, misnamed Tecumseh @1940 by Midshipmen has become a term of endearment, but offends native Americans and misrepresents the renowned leader of the Delaware and an ally of early colonists.
Questions- Shouldn't the Brigade know who Tamanend really was and decide for itself who they want to revere and refer to him as?   
The broader issue - In times like these, would not the Brigade like to figure out how to to (sic) correctly apply racial fairness for itself?  
Is it an insult to refer to him as Tecumseh?  
Would you knowingly offend a tribe of allies or insult their leader in a warfighting coalition environment? 
Is this completely destroying a school tradition?  Do we have to rename T-Court? (No to both).
Didn't the OG (original gangster if you'll permit the Boomer colloquialism) Midshipmen get it right?  Is it wrong to get back to the original truth of why he was chosen and placed there?
If you change a school tradition back to its original school tradition, have you really destroyed a school tradition? 
Can you not honor the man and leader Tamanend in conjunction with the tradition? 
For those of you who may be opposed to the change, I respect that for whatever the many reasons may be.  A year ago this proposal was met with indifference, including my own. And I personally have not fully grasped the issue of warpaint as a Marine who appreciates and admires the great American Indian warriors and refers to putting on my own face camouflage as warpaint, as do many athletes in preparation for competition.  But I am willing to go there, and listen as well as change when faced with the right circumstances.
I and for your patience and trust that if we teach our Mids how to think, we will not need to tell them what to think or do their thinking for them. Most importantly, if we allow them to own the conversation and decision, then we have taught them what change (perhaps only incremental or even more) looks like by their own hand.
I am pulling out all the names here as I have zero interest in shaming anyone in public. Those who know, know, and I have had people sending me a lot more than I am published here from civilians, to MIDN to uniformed members who received forwards of forwards of forwards. Good people are in tough jobs trying to address issues they are not trained to deal with, have experience dealing with, on socio-political seas that are foreign to them and their professional experience. 

As far as lessons being learned, from the feedback I’ve seen, I don’t think it is quite what senior uniformed leaders think. These MIDN are smart, and they grew up under the already existing commissariat. They see the fear. They see. 

I’m not an alumni of USNA, so I haven’t covered all the scraping and erasing of names and monuments that has been going on there the last half year – but this topic was worth the trouble.

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