Thursday, August 05, 2021

Diversity Thursday


We've been making the point here for years that of all the institutions and groups in the United States, the Navy is one of the least racist places a person could find themselves in. It was for me.

Especially when people make the the charge of "systemic racism" against our Navy, any well meaning person of experience will know the charge is just baseless.

What if I was wrong? Maybe I was. Maybe things have changed. 

There was an amazing admission earlier this week from the Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr., that I am still trying to get my head around;

“I think we should consider reinstating photos in selection boards,” Nowell said Tuesday at The Navy League’s 2021 Sea-Air-Space Exposition. “We look at, for instance, the one-star board over the last five years, and we can show you where, as you look at diversity, it went down with photos removed.”

As you may recall, I greatly welcomed the removal of the photo requirement - especially because of the reason people gave for it, "We want to make sure people look professional."

What BS, many of us said, I don't care if you are tall, short, thin or round. If you do your job well and pass they physical requirements, then all I care and that the Navy should care about is your record. Take the picture away, and for that matter, the names as well. If you are "not professional" then your FITREPs will reflect that.

What a fool I was.

“It’s a meritocracy. We’re only going to pick the best of the best, but we’re very clear with our language … that we want them to consider diversity across all areas. Right?” Nowell said. “And therefore … I think having a clear picture on this just makes it easier. So, actually, our data show that it would support adding photos back in.”

I know it is hard to read through all the contradictions there, but when you boil it down, what he is asking for is, essentially, "Bring pictures back so we can discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin to make our metrics look better. You know, good old school bigotry based on superficial appearances. That's what we need the pictures for."

That is the only reading one can have. I know he is aware of the cohort issues we covered last week. In the zero-sum game that promotions are, if you want to force-mode a set of numbers based on self-identified race and ethnicity, there is only one way to do it: non-meritocratic quotas.

There is no military in the history of the human race that ever prospered with such a system. There is no multi-ethnic nation that has ever survived long when it promoted division and an open spoils system based on a people divided by factors they were born with.

None. Never. This is engineering failure.

This is the Chief of Naval Personnel. He runs our promotion system and personnel management. How quickly things have changed from the clear guidance on the bottom of page 4;

In July 2020, then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued a memo instructing the Defense Department to “remove photographs from consideration by promotion boards and selection processes and develop additional guidance, as applicable, that emphasizes retaining qualified and diverse talent.”

At the time, Esper also signaled that sex, names and other identifying information could be next on the chopping block since they may “may trigger unconscious bias.”

We've gone from trying to avoid unconscious bias to no kidding saying we want to be fully conscious in our bias - and we want to be congratulated for it. 

You can't make this stuff up. I've spent a decade and a half online, longer IRL, warning everyone what was growing in the heart of our Navy, but no one did anything. Here it is. Don't blame Biden either; these are Flag Officers brought up and promoted under both political parties.

The only solution is that Congress must act. Of course, nothing will happen with (D) in power. That means that nothing can be done outside the margins until 2023 - maybe - and nothing substantial can be done until 2025 unless the right person is elected as CINC and brings with them the right people who get it. This will not fix itself. The Navy is incapable of extracting itself from racial essentialism on its own. It has embraced it whole hog.

This is only going to get worse if not actively opposed and pushed back. You can do what you can on the local and personal level to slow-roll, ignore, and throw a spanner in the Diversity Industry works where possible, but otherwise we will have to wait, husband our forces, and prepare for a change at the top.

I'm sorry, if people don't see the CNP's comments as a clear demonstration about how far across the line we are - especially with the CNO's full embrace of the racist cancer of Ibram X. Kendi - I can't help them ... and they are part of the problem and should be left out of the future solution. 

All those leaders who told us the photos were not used for racial bean counting? They just admitted they lied to us all along. It is that, or they've decided to throw that all away for ... for what, exactly? What long term, institutional positive impact are they looking for ... or are they doing this for petty, personal reasons, trying to just get by without anyone calling them nasty names until they get promoted or retired?

Who knows ... but here we are watching one of the last institutions most had confidence in, thrown in to the gaping mouth of the Diversity Industry's Vaal. 

Of note, I have been a member of a board. That was back in the 00s. At least from the worker bee POV, the pictures were mostly ignored ... perhaps something changed. Perhaps they are used elsewhere. What is clear from the CNP's comments, at least at some level they were a tool to practice racial discrimination. Really? How?

At a Pentagon press conference shortly after the comments by CNP, you can tell the Defense Department Spokesperson John Kirby at the 43:11 point was not quite ready for the question, but his shuffling it in to a category of "creative ideas" should set people back a bit. Racism is now considered a "creative" solution? That is where people are at now?

Noted.

There is nothing "creative" about discrimination based on race, creed, color, or national origin. It is simply being a bigot. 

We see you.


A final note: I was impressed how rapid the response was to this as demonstrated by my email, DMs, and other communications media from civilians to active duty officers from LTjg to CAPT and retired Flag Officers. This hit home. I'll take this as a positive sign. 

It has generated an amazing degree of cynicism even I'm a little taken back with. Though there had been rumors and even isolated occasions of interference in the integrity of the selection process people - including me - have first hand knowledge of, there is a general feeling that this would be the last bastion off fairness people could rely on. In a moment, that is gone.

People rightfully should no longer have the assumption of fair and impartial boards. Sooner more than later, the CNP, CNO, or better yet, whenever we need a SECNAV, they need to repudiate the CNP's statements as outlined above. In no uncertain terms, people need to have confidence that there will be no discrimination based on race, creed, color, or national origin on selection boards. To get there, this episode needs to be publicly repudiated. 

If these comments are left standing then there can be only one possible conclusion; we are in a new era where racial discrimination is now policy.

You want systemic racism? There it is - red in tooth can claw. 

You were warned; we are now here.


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