'Diversity' at Annapolis
"Why" is a wonderful, troublesome, puzzling, and sometimes irritating word. When asked by children, it often elicits a response of "because I said so." In other situations, it might cause us to think. So when someone says, "Our diversity is our strength," why does no one ask why?
If the statement means "diversity of thought," who could disagree? This country has practiced such for over 200 years. It is central to the structure of our federal government, as 50 states govern in different ways that work best for their unique circumstances. If it's diversity of culture, there is no argument. In an open society, it is almost a given.
However, racial diversity for its own sake weakens the effectiveness of any organization. There are numerous indications that the United States Naval Academy is purposely setting out to make the Brigade of Midshipmen “look like” the Fleet of perhaps the nation. Facilitating this goal is a Naval Academy Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI). As the Superintendent, does Vice Admiral Buck believe that diversity means “looking like” America?
The Naval Academy's ODEI Mission web page states goals of making the Academy an "inclusive campus," ensuring "equitable access'" and addressing the "challenges of underrepresented populations." This reads like political correctness at an institution where the real mission is to train combat leaders. So, Admiral, please enlighten us. How and why does your new diverse culture make our Navy a stronger fighting force?
Some say sailors and Marines are best led by officers of their own race. Why? If that were so, why don't we have white ships, black aviation squadrons, and Latino submarines? That premise was rejected years ago by the Supreme Court and substantiated in practice by the integration of the American military. We are and should be one Navy. To think otherwise only serves to perpetuate the hoax.
In his book The Dying Citizen, Victor Davis Hanson explains that the duty of what he calls campus "diversity commissars" is to "monitor the precise racial makeup of the labor force, to adjudicate the authenticity of individual racial pedigrees, to reeducate the majority of the white population about its toxic insidious privilege, and to ensure that curricula and communications include proper vocabulary and phraseology." Since ODEI functions outside the regular chain of command, why has the Academy created an Office of Diversity Commissars?
The professional sports world does not bow to diversity. The NFL, NBA, and WNBA are all composed of over 70% players "of color." Is that diversity? Imagine the response from league commissioners to "your league is not sufficiently diverse. You need to look more like America!" Can you hear the laughter? Professional sports are about winning. They care nothing about skin color — only about drafting and keeping the best players.
Why does the Naval Academy now seem more concerned with ensuring "equitable access'" and addressing the "challenges of underrepresented populations"? These are problems in our society that should be addressed elsewhere. Equity means equality of outcome, usually accomplished via explicit or implicit quotas. Quotas reduce the need for merit and result in overlooking some of the best candidates. It is contrary to the essence of Dr. Martin Luther King's message of judging all people by the content of character, not the color of skin.
One final comment by Dr. Hanson from The Dying Citizen is pertinent. "Once Americans embrace such ethnic chauvinism and identify by superficial appearances ... even on the pretext of correcting past wrongs — then embarrassing contradictions, ironies, contortions, and paradoxes are inevitable[.]" The result is that an entire generation of youth has grown up and been educated on the now mainstream premise that their ethnic and/or gender identifications define who they are at the expense of their commonality as Americans."
So, to all leaders who claim it to be so, we ask again, why is racial diversity a strength? What about that paradigm makes our Navy a stronger fighting force, better prepared to win our nation's wars? In truth, racial diversity for its own sake only serves to dilute merit and weaken our effectiveness. It is a misguided hoax perpetrated by those who are determined to sacrifice merit on the altar of political correctness. The United States Naval Academy must be dedicated to strengthening our commonality as Americans defending our Constitution against all enemies, fighting with courage and resolve and, most important, winning. An unbalanced focus on racial diversity is a distractive, cancerous hoax and must be excised from our thinking.
Capt. Jim Tulley is a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy pilot, naval engineer, and mayor. He is working with a group of concerned individuals to change the focus of our military and specifically our Service Academies.
Image: National Archives.