Professor Bruce E. Fleming is an English Professor from Annapolis. He has an absolutely powerhouse OP-ED in Sunday’s The Capital.

We have all heard over the last month or so the chorus over how diverse the incoming class at Annapolis is. Well, the devil is in the details – and Professor Fleming lays the whole thing out there to see, smell, and feel.

A “diverse” class does not mean the Naval Academy recruits violinists, or older students (they can’t be 23 on Induction Day), or gay people (who are thrown out) or foreign students (other than the dozen or so sent by client governments).

It means applicants checked a box on their application that says they are Hispanic, African American, Native American, and now, since my time on the Admissions Board of the Academy, where I’ve taught for 22 years, Asians.

Midshipmen are admitted by two tracks. White applicants out of high school who are not also athletic recruits typically need grades of A and B and minimum SAT scores of 600 on each part for the Board to vote them “qualified.” Athletics and leadership also count.

A vote of “qualified” for a white applicant doesn’t mean s/he’s coming, only that he or she can compete to win the “slate” of up to 10 nominations that (most typically) a Congress(wo)man draws up. That means that nine “qualified” white applicants are rejected. SAT scores below 600 or C grades almost always produce a vote of “not qualified” for white applicants.

Not so for an applicant who self-identifies as one of the minorities who are our “number one priority.” For them, another set of rules apply. Their cases are briefed separately to the board, and SAT scores to the mid-500s with quite a few Cs in classes (and no visible athletics or leadership) typically produce a vote of “qualified” for them, with direct admission to Annapolis. They’re in, and are given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.

Minority applicants with scores and grades down to the 300s with Cs and Ds (and no particular leadership or athletics) also come, though after a remedial year at our taxpayer-supported remedial school, the Naval Academy Preparatory School.

By using NAPS as a feeder, we’ve virtually eliminated all competition for “diverse” candidates: in theory they have to get a C average at NAPS to come to USNA, but this is regularly re-negotiated.

There you go. Create a new sub-category (for the USNA) of minority, and have a two-track, separate and unequal selections process. You just increased your diversity. Quod erat demonstrandum.

I highly recommend that you read the whole thing and soak it in. When it comes to getting a handle on how such paternalistic racist policies impact our dialog on race, read some of the comments there as well.

How anyone can defend or be proud of such a blatantly discriminatory policy is beyond me. It sets up young men and women for failure, unfairly stigmatizes minority MIDN and officers who would qualify in a race-neutral environment, it pushes quality cuts to the fleet where lives are on the line (hulls of ships and skin of aircraft don’t care what your DNA is), and on a whole it tarnishes our entire culture of fairness.

In the zero-sum game that is admissions, you can no longer say that we don’t discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. As outlined in Professor Fleming’s OP-ED, we do. It also plants the seed of doubt that if we discriminate at the beginning; do we also continue to discriminate throughout the career path?




Posted by CDRSalamander in Uncategorized


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  • Total

    I would imagine that minority mids manage it the same way all those generation of white midshipmen, spared competition with anyone but those of their own race and gender, managed.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, Total,

    That must make it right. The way to end discrimination is to treat people differently because of their ethnic background or color of their skin. Got it.

  • Total

    “That must make it right. The way to end discrimination is to treat people differently because of their ethnic background or color of their skin. Got it”

    I’m saying that CDRSalamander’s ignoring a whole massive context here that’s quite important, and as a result, ignoring nearly the entire history of the Naval Academy. The result is like one of those bloviating alums who whine about how Beloved Old Alma Mater was better back in the day.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Define the legal concept behind “whole massive context”.

  • Natty Bowditch

    Total gets it.

    What CDR Salamander misses is the fact promoting diversity doesn’t guarantee outcome; opponents of diversity always confuse opportunity with outcome.

    When you get that diploma, it matters not what skin color you are or aren’t. It’s like the old joke: what do they call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his medical school class? Answer: ‘doctor.’ It works the same way at Canoe U. You either get the grades or you don’t. If you do, you’re an Ensign or a 2LT.

  • Total

    “Define the legal concept behind “whole massive context”

    Try not to take refuge behind the lawyers. It’s a sign of poverty of thought.

    You might also think about it from a warfighting perspective, one of understanding the perspective of allies and enemies. Given America’s likely engagement in the Middle East, I’d surely be trying to increase in the military officer corps, the number of 1) Jews, 2) Muslims. Given our likely encounter with China and other Asian powers, I’d surely be trying to increase the number in the officer corps of Asians of all descents. Given our recent engagements in Africa, I’d be interested in having the percentage of African-Americans in the military corps increased. Now that’s problematic in its own way: assuming that a Chinese-American from the LA suburbs has some deeper insight into Chinese culture than anyone else is a bit of stereotyping on its own. But recruiting Chinese-Americans with Mandarin language skills?

    Useful.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Total,
    But that isn’t what we are talking about here. An African-American from LA has nothing culturally in common with a Rwandan. He has much more in common with a Irishman from Dublin.

    I am more interested in your answer to URR’s request to define your “whole massive context” WRT how we do or do not actively discriminate again someone born in ~1991 simply on the basis of the majority of his source DNA.

  • Natty Bowditch

    If CDR S (or Fleming) wants to gripe about something–it should be about Canoe U’s academic majors. To my mind, offering up majors in English or Poli Sci or History and the like are truly a waste of taxpayer monies.

  • CDR Lumpy

    Interesting Discussion, although I will note with irony that there is a two track acceptance policy with respect to Naval Aviation Training, as Naval Academy Grads are accepted to Naval Aviation Training with lower AQT/FAR scores (3/4) than NROTC/OCS Grads who must have higher AQT/FAR scores (4/5). So, a good first step would be to require Canoe U grads to have the same acceptance requirements for naval aviation training, as NROTC/OCS grads must have.

    I will also say that in the current political environment, a smart minority student applicant has many universities competing for them, to include the Ivy League universities. So, why would a smart minority pick a military academy? Probably because of either a family connection to the military or they were already turned down by a top 50 college.

    I will say that some astute minorities already know how the affirmative action system works in the military, and they work it to their advantage. Albeit, they still have to be fairly competent, they also don’t have to be the best, as they get the affirmative action upgrade. Case in Point, CDR Tito Dua. He was a shipmate of mine on the USS Sterett in 1987, and he told us back then that all he had to do was work hard and stay out of trouble, he would screen for command and make Captain. He did both, although we know the rest of the story on that one.

    So, the nation has to make a decision. What is the priority of the military? National Defense or a laboratory for social experimentation.

    As for me, since I have two minority children, I plan to use the affirmative action system in their favor. However, they will also be competent as I will ensure that requirement is met, if they decide to join military.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    CDR L brings up another sticky point when it comes to racial self identification. Why does the mixed race (assumed) child of a professional get to pick an easier path that that of, say, a candidate who has equal qualifications but came to this nation from Azerbaijan or Serbia when he was 10? Why should a blond haired, blue eyed “Gonzalez” get special consideration compared to the child of Tunisian immigrants?

    If your DNA is 50% Asian, 30% sub-Saharan African, and 20% Caucasian, what do you describe yourself as? Why should one simple check mark that means nothing about your ability to lead?

    At that point, don’t we just have a racial spoils system? Is that really what we want? If my son’s mother is from Ghana, is my child white or black? Are we using the “one drop” rule, and if we are – does that make us any better than those who wrote up Jim Crow laws?

    If not, why?

  • http://fareastcynic.com Skippy-san

    Total,

    There is only one “massive context”-best qualified regardless of race or gender.

    Look at the history of the Academy with respect to the integration of women. The reason dinosaurs like me hate the idea is that the way it was done-the women were not just part of the student body-they became preferred customers within it. This type of thing strikes me as exactly the same thing.

    What’s next? When a minority midshipman breaks a rule-different standards for their punishment? That’s what happened with the women. And it set them back. If you want acceptance, then every one has to play by the same rules.

    I’m not an Academy alumni-but I can see that this is loaded with peril for the Academy. Fire up the Lawyerpult!

  • Natty Bowditch

    Gosh, CDR L., thanks for the CDR Dua story. Good thing no caucasian male naval officer has ever lost his command. We won’t bring up the PORT ROYAL or the IOWA or other inconvenient facts.

    Again, opportunity does not equal outcome.

    I will say that some astute minorities already know how the affirmative action system works in the military, and they work it to their advantage. Albeit, they still have to be fairly competent, they also don’t have to be the best, as they get the affirmative action upgrade.

    Y’know–if the affirmative action upgrade were such a magic ticket, don’t you think it would best be applied outside the military? Think about it. Why would you want to jump to the head of the line in an organization where the pay isn’t exactly extravagant, the hours are long and might also be dangerous and there are prolonged separations from friends and family?

  • Jay

    I don’t pay attention, normally, to CDR Salamander’s “Diversity Thursday” postings, as I don’t see them as contributing much to a discussion about race. I see a lot of finger pointing, but no real attempt to address these thorny issues, except for a “we ought to be completely color blind, period” take, which isn’t realistic. I’ve asked before in the comments section about what alternatives they would propose to assist leveling the playing field — and don’t see a lot of response.

    I don’t think that force-shaping and military readiness are mutually exclusive concepts.

    I think Natty is right on — it isn’t so much the trying to define the outcomes, as it is giving the opportunity.

    Some leaders grow and become great despite early “non-predictors” — low grades, etc.

    Very busy today, but will post more as I mature my thoughts.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Jay,
    What is wrong with “…we ought to be completely color blind, period…”?

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I think it is a fine idea. I also like Morgan Freeman’s idea as well. What is wrong with that?

  • Phil

    Natty Bowditch,

    My history degree from the Academy has made me well rounded when compared to an engineer. I received enough engineering instruction to complete nuclear power school with grades better than most. Looking at my career (as a nuke no less) being able to write and speak with proficiency is a large part of our job. If you are on the USNI blog you yourself probably have some affinity for history and maybe its relevance to current Navy events.

  • Byron

    Jay, if we were talking about the business employement sector, I’d be less concerned about this sort of racial bias. But it isn’t, and it is the military academies, the farm where the future leaders of our military is grown. What kind of crop will we reap if we keep allowing sub-par students to enroll? How many Nimitz’s will be swept to the wayside? Halseys? Spruance? When the wolves are at the door, who do you want to protect your hearth and home? That’s what this is about. We’re saying that to produce quality leaders, or at least have a fighting chance at it, you have to start with the best and brightest, REGARDLESS of race, creed, color, or sex. I’m not a bright person like the rest of you, and Lord knows I don’t have your education, but this is not rocket science.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Total:

    Two wrongs do not combine to produce a not wrong, much less a correction.

    Admission to the Naval Academy on the basis of anything but intelligence, academic merit, sound physical condition, good character, and absolute loyalty to the nation and the Constitution is an offense against the enlisted people its graduates must lead, and the citizens who rely on its graduates for the common defense.

    Use of the Naval Academy Prep School for other than academic remediation of enlisted candidates who have already demonstrated the qualities of leadership, courage, and common sense that are imperfectly demonstrable on a high school record is a perversion
    of its purpose, and robs an outstanding fleet sailor of a chance for a commission.

    Recruiting or selective appointment on the basis of religion is utterly unacceptable, it is the definition of the establishment of a state religion(s).

    Ability is race neutral. Lowering standards serves no one’s interest.

    Requesting leaders of diverse communities to encourage able young men and women to apply would be my recommendation. The more applicants, the more diverse the applicant pool.

    Surely no one could object to that, outside of San Francisco.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Natty,

    We are now making official policy of giving “opportunity” to a racial or ethnic minority, less qualified, based on past injustices?

    Sounds much more like revenge than diversity.

  • CDR Lumpy

    For Natty,

    The Affirmative Action upgrade does exist, as illustrated by the current Supreme Court Nomination. Also, I find it interesting that no one has addressed the Naval Academy upgrade for Naval Aviation, possibly it hits too close to home.

    Just because I accurately observe my environment, doesn’t mean I support or condemn it.

    The issue I wanted to address was not that CDR Dua was fired, but when he was an Ensign in 1987, he knew the rules of the affirmative action game and played them well in his favor. As far as other officers getting fired, well they know the rules of the promotion system and played them well. Although, as illustrated by their firing they didn’t know how to command a ship, squadron or submarine.

    I cannot address the motivations of people, I can only address their outward actions.

    So, on that note we could diverge into the discussion of “does the Navy actually promote the best people based upon superior performance or justs the ones whom look good on paper before the board”. But, that would distract away from the current diversity discussion.

  • Natty Bowditch

    What is wrong with “…we ought to be completely color blind, period…”?

    Nothing’s wrong with the sentiment. Unfortunately, the reality is much different; for several hundred years, some groups were treated as second-class citizens (or worse). You’re now saying we should forget the historical injustices which include diminished economic mobility, lack of access to schools and other services, etc.

    Byron: Bringing up Halsey or Nimitz does nothing for your argument. Halsey, for example, was a notoriously poor student who failed several times to get into USNA before finally making it–largely on his athletic prowess.

    I’d also remind you Rickover was nearly compelled to leave Canoe U because of rampant anti-semitism.

    The other side of the argument, of course, is how many great Admirals and Generals did we lose by failing to admit minorities?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “You’re now saying we should forget the historical injustices which include diminished economic mobility, lack of access to schools and other services, etc.”

    You’re saying we should use those past injustices to legally facilitate new injustices? Huh. This must be the GOOD kind of racial/ethnic discrimination.

  • Natty Bowditch

    My history degree from the Academy has made me well rounded when compared to an engineer. I received enough engineering instruction to complete nuclear power school with grades better than most.

    Sorry, Phil, but that’s a quibble. I really hope you didn’t use that line on Rickover. He would have said, “Phil, don’t you think I could put that on a cassette tape and play it over and over?”

    I’ll bet your grades at nuke powere school would have been better if you’d majored in, say, Physics or EE.

    Note I’m not saying officers shouldn’t be well-versed in liberal arts; you will get a good foundation in them even with a technical degree.

    CDR L:

    I’ll reiterate; if AA is such a magic ticket–why wouldn’t Sotomayor parlay it into the really big bucks at some high powered law firm? SC justice doesn’t pay really well and why have everyone paw through every aspect of your life?

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    “Unfortunately, the reality is much different; for several hundred years, some groups were treated as second-class citizens ”

    So Natty, does that mean that we correct that by having a “separate and unequal” method to treating them?

    If the father’s family used to be a major slave holder and the mother immigrated from Ethiopia in 1975 and they classify their mixed-race child as “African American” – how does giving that child born in 1991 special treatment have anything at all to do with it?

    I invite you to examine some of the oldest monuments in St. Augustine after Florida became a State. Americans with Iberian last names experienced no discrimination.

    In any event, if you desire not to “…forget the historical injustices which include diminished economic mobility, lack of access to schools and other services…” by allowing openly racist policy to go forward. How does the child of two professionals whose DNA is predominately sub-Saharan African born in 1991 suffer from “diminished economic mobility” – but the child of Ukrainian immigrants does not? How do any of these policies promote unity of effort and cohesion?

  • Natty Bowditch

    CDR S:

    For several hundred years, white males decided separate and unequal was institutional policy concerning minorities. As a result, generations of minorities lost or received diminished economic opportunity–while white males were beneficiaries. Now, after generations of this, you come along and say ‘ok, bygones are bygones–everyone’s equal from now on.’

    Problem is, everyone isn’t. You and your family benefitted (or at least had the opportunity to do so.) OTOH, your minority neighbor didn’t.

    Re your Ethopian immigrant: your argument fails on a number of counts. First, it’s simply more economically efficient; investigating each individual minority’s proof and/or level of inflicted harm is a tremendous waste of time, money and effort. Second, the minority suffers the stigma as a group. Third, discrimination still exists today.

  • CDR Lumpy

    For Natty,

    You are mirroring Sotomayer, as if your motivation’s were hers.

    Again, I can’t read people’s minds, so I can’t judge their motivations, only their actions.

    Finally, how do you know being a Supreme Court Judge isn’t a moneymaker?

    On that note, President Obama only makes 400K/year as the President, why doesn’t he go into private industry and make the big bucks?

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_money_does_a_Supreme_Court_Justice_make

  • Natty Bowditch

    Finally, how do you know being a Supreme Court Judge isn’t a moneymaker?

    Because Roberts and Scalia keep whining about how their salaries should be raised.

    Are you seriously suggesting Obama is an AA hire?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I think Lumpy is suggesting that the most powerful position in the free world makes less than a .240-hitting utility infielder.

    I await the answer to the question of legislating present and future injustices as a means of remedying those of the the past.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Natty,
    Your argument only makes sense in a static understanding of this nation’s population.

    “For several hundred years, white males decided separate and unequal was institutional policy concerning minorities.”

    – Where are those white males now? Answer; dead.
    – The family lineage of the vast majority of “white males” in this nation had nothing to do with it. Most, i.e. those of Italian and Central European and Jewish extraction didn’t even have families over here during those “several hundred years.”
    – Do you correct for past injustice by creating present injustice? Does such an attitude help or hurt race relations?

    “‘ok, bygones are bygones–everyone’s equal from now on.’” Why, yes. I am. We are talking about people born in 1991. In 2009 can’t we agree that we can try to meet Dr. King’s “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”? This is not 1961, 1971, or 1981 for that matter. This is 2009.

    “First, it’s simply more economically efficient; investigating each individual minority’s proof and/or level of inflicted harm is a tremendous waste of time, money and effort.” So, you propose to discriminate based on a group regardless of the individuals in question – and you agree with the Jim Crow “one drop” rule? Broad and rigid discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, and national origin progresses this nation the Navy forward in what way?

    “Second, the minority suffers the stigma as a group.” As we try to address this “stigma” you state by creating even more of a stigma by having a paternalistic lower standard for them?

    “Third, discrimination still exists today.” Discrimination exists today and will forever – in the hearts and minds of individuals. We do not address this by creating institutional discrimination.

    An argument such as ‘We will discriminate as long as there is discrimination’ is circular in its logic – and tragic when it becomes policy.
    ________
    As for the CINC and Judge Sotomajor topics – could we please not hijack this thread. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand — and as a note of warning, any other mention of it will be deleted from comments. We don’t need to there.

    Focus.

  • CDR Lumpy

    For Natty,

    My rhetorical question was an application of your logic applied in a different situation. So, how would you answer that question using your own logic? Also, other than to be inflammatory, what is the purpose of your argument?

    However, let’s examine this opportunity issue you discussed. Opportunity is the favorable juncture of circumstances. Who makes the arbitrary choice for this opportunity of a free education at the Naval Academy?

    Supposedly, entrance into the Naval Academy is objective in nature and based upon objective measures of merit. Yet, you claim that minorities should be afforded the opportunity to go to the Naval Academy, even though objectively they do not merit entrance.

    Thus, to provide minorities the opportunity to go to the Naval Academy, we (as a nation) must deny others who merit the opportunity to attend. This denial of attendance is based soley on the color of their skin.

    Should we base this denial on religious grounds too?

    Because statistically speaking, Academy grads who attended a parachoial (Catholic) high school, were boy scouts and who played a team sport have historically had higher graduation rates.

    So, should we allow Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists the opportunity to attend the Naval Academy, and deny Catholics attendance? Even though historically they have a higher probability of successfully completing the course of instruction?

    That is the line of your argument and what the discussion is based upon. Who gets the opportunity?

    So, are we to favor some over others? Which is counter to Dr King’s argument about equality.

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” MLK, 28 Aug, 1963

    Or, are we going to live in an Orwellian Animal Farm Society, where some animals more equal than others? And if so, what does that say about us as a nation?

  • Natty Bowditch

    - Where are those white males now? Answer; dead.

    Some are; not all. Just this AM, we’re treated to several SC GOPers–one compared Michelle Obama to a gorilla and the other claims Obama wants to tax aspirin because it’s “white and it works.”

    - The family lineage of the vast majority of “white males” in this nation had nothing to do with it. Most, i.e. those of Italian and Central European and Jewish extraction didn’t even have families over here during those “several hundred years.”

    However, they benefitted as well. They benefitted from not having to compete with minorities.

    Why, yes. I am. We are talking about people born in 1991. In 2009 can’t we agree that we can try to meet Dr. King’s “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”? This is not 1961, 1971, or 1981 for that matter. This is 2009.

    It is 2009. However, the pretense the past has no bearing on today is beyond foolish. If, for generations, your family had every opportunity available to them–do you not suppose you might have an advantage over those who had most every opportunity closed to them?

    I’d add it’s kind of offensive to intimate Dr. King opposed AA; in fact, he did not. This is why he argued AA as a compensatory program using the GI Bill as a model. In fact, King believed such compensatory programs would go further than what today’s AA looks like.

    So, you propose to discriminate based on a group regardless of the individuals in question

    It’s a false premise to call it ‘discrimination,’ it’s compensatory. If I burn your house down and you sue me to replace your home–would it be correct for me to claim I’m being discriminated against because I’m compelled to reimburse you?

    As we try to address this “stigma” you state by creating even more of a stigma by having a paternalistic lower standard for them?

    You still have difficulty discerning ‘opportunity’ and ‘outcome.’

    Discrimination exists today and will forever – in the hearts and minds of individuals.

    Unfortunately, this hearts and minds stuff often results in real discrimination.

  • http://ktcatspost.blogspot.com/ K T Cat

    I think the NFL should use the same selection method when drafting college athletes into the league. Then we’d really get parity. Well, that and truly lousy teams, but hey, we’re not after quality, we’re after e-quality.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Compensatory.” Hmm. My great-grandfather (mother’s side) took a musket ball in the chest at Chancellorsville fighting to free the slaves. Died a young man not long after.

    My father’s side emigrated from Poland (which didn’t exist at the time) in the 1890s. Quit school in the 8th grade to keep his family eating in the 1930s. The relatives who stayed in the old world would gladly have traded places. The fate of Silesian Poles during the last century is kinda grim. So… I will be awaiting my “compensation”, too. It oughtta be a doozie.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Sorry to interrupt, Natty.

    You were telling me why my son who qualifies to attend USNA should not get the “opportunity”, while the son of a racial or ethnic minority who doesn’t qualify, should.

  • sid

    Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare to attack a lion. Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently of mutual aid, will attack resolutely.

    Ardant du Picq

    If the Diversity Machine celebrated UNITY, then this pursuit would have some merit. Of course you want the military to reflect the demographics of the country.

    Problem is though, it is a bureaucracy that has every vested interest in maintaining a fundamental divisiveness so it can stay in business.

    Big Money and Power…

    As Ardant du Picq noted a couple hundred years ago, that ain’t so good if you want to win wars…

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Natty,
    So, in the end “..its compensatory…” you are looking to punish innocent people for the sins of others for misdeeds they had nothing to do with – or for that matter, weren’t even alive when they occurred. It isn’t about equality, it is about revenge?

    Not quite the formula for good race relations. Regressive in the extreme. Balkan. It is also the attitude that had Hutu slaughter Tutsi by the hundreds of thousands.

  • Natty Bowditch

    URR:

    Anecdotes are wonderful things. Can’t address your complaints about Silesia.

    The point you assiduously avoid, and I understand why, is the hard truth you and your family have benefitted (or at least had the opportunity) from institutions such as slavery and Jim Crow. Your grandfather didn’t have to compete against an entire segment of the populace for a job. If your grandfather wanted to go to college and had the wherewithal, there was no one to tell him he was the wrong color.

    As a result, you directly benefitted. Your family’s economic fortunes were enhanced and improved. Chances are your gandfather’s son had a leg up and further advanced his lot. These benefits accrued to you.

    I’m sure you have other anecdotes about relatives walking 6 miles to school in the snow and such. The maternal side of my family were immigrant farmers. The lived hard lives and didn’t make much money but they got by. But I realize it would have been literally impossible if they were black. They’d have not gotten loans needed to buy or lease equipment. No loans for buying or leasing land. They’d have been excluded from co-ops where they could buy discount seed and consumables. No help from white neighbors when an extra hand was needed for a project.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Natty,
    And the United States Naval Academy should have a lower standards for one group born in 1991 than another group born in 1991 because ….

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Natty,
    Oh now were getting silly.

  • Natty Bowditch

    CDR S:

    Oh my. Minorities at Canoe U. will lead inexorably to genocide?

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Re-read the post … and it looks like we need a time hack.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    @Natty,

    Huh. I hadn’t realized that we had it so good. If my ancestor had only known how much slavery helped his family, he would have fought for the Confederacy, without doubt.

    So tell me again why my son who is qualified to attend USNA should not get the opportunity, but the son or daughter of a racial or ethnic minority who is not qualified, should?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hey Salamander, you can tell Chap that YOU poked the wasp’s nest.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    @URR. Snerk. You caught that I&W yesterday in comments, eh? ;)

  • Natty Bowditch

    URR:

    I keep harping on it, hoping it will sink in: opportunity is different than outcome.

    If you believe admittance to Canoe U is an outcome, I can never hope to convince you.

    The hard truth is there are a lot of factors involved in getting admitted to a service academy. I speak from experience, I was accepted at 3 of them. Some of the factors are quite subjective–leadership being a prime example. Does someone who is their HS class’ treasurer trump someone who is working as the assistant to the assistant mgr at a hamburger joint? Athletics is another; if I’m the sixth man on my HS basketball team does that trump the kid who was the state golf champion? What of life experience? Does it count for anything that I’ve lived abroad as opposed to someone who has rarely left his or her state? Academics are also subjective. As a Navy brat, I lived all over–not all schools are created equal. Some were easy, some were difficult; some schools I had to actually study–others not.

    Re your ‘qualified’ son–who are you to claim he’s qualified and some minority isn’t?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So, why should my son who is qualified NOT get the opportunity, when someone who is NOT qualified, get the opportunity?

    “who are you to claim he’s qualified and some minority isn’t?”

    Me? Immaterial. The Admissions Board, however. That is what they do. Read the above post again. And this from Professor Fleming’s op/ed:

    “Have a lawyer sit in on a year’s worth of Admissions Board deliberations. Or better still, pray that one of the stellar white students rejected to give a seat to a “diverse” candidate sues us.”

    He is rather unambiguous.

  • jwithington

    Natty,

    “You either get the grades or you don’t. If you do, you’re an Ensign or a 2LT.”

    If I am reading the OPED correctly, precisely what you are saying does not happen in the admissions process. Prof. Fleming writes that a different standards are applying to different groups. Some groups might not make the “grade” of others and still get in.

  • Natty Bowditch

    URR:

    I seriously doubt a lawyer is going to say word one. And good luck with the lawsuit. I’d offer an openly gay applicant would have a much better shot at a lawsuit than one of Fleming’s stellar white applicants.

    Admission processes everywhere are subjective; probably moreso at the academies.

    You keep asking about your son but you don’t wish to listen to the answer. Let’s say your kid has a 4.0 GPA and 1600 on his SAT. Does this make him more qualified than a kid with a 3.0 GPA and 1200 on his SAT? If the qualification metrics only include GPA and SAT, the answer is a qualified maybe. It’s a maybe because not all schools are considered equal. This isn’t conjecture or opinion. If you earn a 3.0 GPA at Thos. Jefferson HS in Fairfax, VA, it probably carries a great deal more weight than if you earned a 4.0 at East Tumbleweed High in Amarillo, TX. The higher SATs work in your favor if SATs are weighted the same or higher than GPA.

    Of course, there are other factors; the ones you wish to ignore.

  • RickWilmes

    Prof. Fleming wrote a book in 2005, Annapolis Autumn: Life, Death, and Literature at the U.S. Naval Academy and if my memory is correct an article or two for Proceedings.

    This is not the first time Prof. Fleming has taken issue with the Admissions process at the Academy.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Exactly when does this hereditary right to “compensatory” head of the line privileges time out? Sounds like never, according to some here.

    Waving the bloody shirt of the bad old days doesn’t always hold up when you dig into the county records (unless it was a “burnt county”, then you can make anything up). They were bad, no doubt.

    None the less:

    When I lived in the southeast my children went to school with black children whose families had worked the same land with sufficient success to keep it in the family for generations. Not quite as horrific as alleged. Decent folk helped decent neighbors, then as now.

    Similarly, fugitive slaves who took the underground railway bought farms in Ohio before the Civil War, and their anglo saxon neighbors fought pitched battles with “slave catchers” who sought to return them to slavery. Free men of color also owned slaves, rarely, but in sufficient numbers to show up in the records regularly. History is so complicated.

    Asian americans overfill the California university system, even though their great great grandparents were brutally oppressed.
    Doesn’t seem to match the standard song, why is that?

    Bloviating about the wonderful advantages available to any and all anglo saxon ancestors doesn’t set too well in the coal towns of Appalachia. What was wrong with Hogan or his goat? Other than being Irish, that is?

    Another thing. Siblings do not always succeed equally well. Some fail spectacularly. Since they share the same advantages, how can that be?

    Point being that propaganda is what it is. A hindrance to good decision making. Sensible folk disregard it and judge human beings one at time. On their merits. Or so my Grandfathers (the Irish surname Police Sergent and the Saxon surname Navy blacksmith/factory pipefitter) taught my parents, who taught me, and I taught my kids, who are teaching my grandkids. Maybe your family had all these unfair advantages as an inevitable consequence of their melanin deficiency. Those days are over now.

    For most, even most wasps, they never were.

    Just like Dr King said, content of character is what is important. And we all should drop the subject, as Mr. Freeman wisely recommends to us all.

  • http://www.yankeesailor.us/ Yankee Sailor

    I thoroughly understand the hand wringing, and the principles on both sides of the argument that drive it, but from the establishment of the service academies the process was intended to be political and produce a cadre of officers that were representative of the population at large. The two things that disturb me are:

    1) Since the nominations process is in the hands of elected officials, the Navy has decided to subvert the will of the elected officials who are supposed to be driving what the officer corps looks like; and,

    2) Statements like this send a disturbing message about the way the people driving this bus think:

    The Naval Academy superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, echoed him. Everyone understands that “diversity” here means nonwhite skins.

    Fowler insisted recently that we needed to have Annapolis graduates who “looked like” the Fleet, where enlisted people are about 42 percent nonwhite, largely African American and Hispanic.

    What is Admiral Fowler saying here? Big Navy doesn’t think white officers are capable of leading “people of color”? The “people of color aren’t disciplined or loyal enough to follow white officers?

    Since Admiral Fowler is confirming that minorities are overrepresented in the enlisted ranks, should we now give the preference to the white applicant when evaluating two equally qualified prospective enlistees?

    It’s always dangerous when Good Intentions encounter the Law Of Unintended Consequences.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Ding, ding, ding. 10 points to the Yankee.

  • Byron

    I’d give him the ears and the tail, myself.

  • Jay

    Geez, you guys have a lot of time on your hands today…

    Let me take a stab in this direction — since we aren’t living in a color blind society yet, and since human nature being what it is (safety in sameness) sometimes has to be addressed with EEO training (or similar — that can make you squirm in your seats) as we move towards that goal of a color blind society.

    I think of it this way — how would I tell some of the kids in the fleet — of diverse backgrounds, “look at me, work hard, & you too can get a commission & become a leader” if all they see is a majority white male officer corps?

    You have to provide role models in order that they really do think that they can make a go of it, and succeed.

    Sitting back, as most of us here are (apologies to Mid’n. Worthington & the others kids reading…), in the twilight of our careers — with age & the maturity & wisdom that comes with it, we can see that while it ought *not* matter, but also, that it does.

    Not so much for us, but for the young folks we are trying to recruit and retain.

    Good conversation here today, but I am paying much more attention to Iran.

  • Claudio

    This is a whole bunch of C#$P

    Yes Natty, admittance to the Academy is an outcome. Outcome of a lot of hard work and effort put forth over the years to get that admittance. Just being white does not get you automatic admittance. Being black or a minority shouldn’t either.

    Mentioned above is why should race have priority over someone emigrating to the US. As an immigrant myself, I don’t think either should get preference. Qualifications should matter. Paying for past sins of forefathers is what is keeping discord alive in several parts of the world.

    I joined my parents in the US at age of 12 in 1981, after they obtained political asylum from Romania in 1979. My dad worked on computers/calculators in Romania, my mom was an architect. In the states, my mom was working in a kitchen as a cook and my dad unloaded animal skins from an 18wheeler at a factory in Iowa. less than a week after I came, I was washing dishes after school in a restaurant. If I got 20 bucks at the end of the week I was happy. 2 years later, I translated for my parents and got a loan and bought that restaurant that employed over 10 other people. I was still washing dishes and working after school. I finished school with good enough grades to obtain scholarships to Oklahoma State, but decided to give back by enlisting in the Navy for only 4 years. Then go to college. 2 years ago I retired after 20 as an O4. Not meant to toot own horn or anything. Just to show that hard work and persistence will help you move ahead no matter what field you choose, or your background. Now, if we could do that, without much english, God knows without any family or support system or help, then anyone can. Thats why this is the land of opportunity. So dictating admittance or preference based on skin color or perceived belonging in a minority group is simply wrong.

    Last but not least, I’ll give you an example of utter lack of initiative and upper mobility that will stay with me for the rest of my life. In late 80s, Norfolk, new AAA Ball field being build downtown by Boathouse. Across interstate were “projects”. Some of the residence were complaining about noise from new ballfield. Older lady quoted on news (Paraphrasing) “I’ve lived here for 35 years, it will not be the same with the noise”. What absolutely killed me is that she lived in projects for 35 years, without ever moving away. HOW CAN THAT BE? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT YOUR FAMILY? When so much is available.

    We see success stories every day of people persevering against insurmountable odds. Because they have the initiative and the drive to excell. Those are the people we should have in our Navy. Simply having the right or “wrong” skin color should not be a criteria.

    Sorry for being so disjointed and run-on. Not enough time to polish while at work, but some of those views are simply killing me, had to respond

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Claudio,

    Congrats on your retirement from the US Navy. And your insightful comments.

    “Paying for past sins of forefathers is what is keeping discord alive in several parts of the world.”

    Well-said. The Balkan script for sure.

  • Byron

    BZ, Claudio!

  • Fouled Anchor

    Quotas are wrong and you cannot justify them. You can try, but the arguments don’t hold water. Preferential treatment now will never right a previous wrong. It’s simply can’t, it can only give the appearance of doing so. If people don’t like the make-up of a given year’s class, they can write their congressman and complain…the admission process as I understand it starts there.

    The same people who justify this sort of admission double-standard will complain down the road when readiness and morale are suffering due to inadequate leadership and technical abilities which will be tied to lower aptitude and ability. That’s not to say that everyone admitted under lower standards will not succeed, but this is a tough business and we need the best and the brightest, period.

    I’ve read the comments here and in other posts and I judge the writer based on their argument. More often than not, I don’t know the writer’s background, so I judge the argument. I don’t know their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, height, weight, or any other distinguishing characteristic. And with very few exceptions, I don’t care, I judge the validity of their argument. I couldn’t tell you if Natty Bowditch is a one-legged leprechaun or a seven-foot matador. And I don’t care, it’s his/her argument I disagree with.

    With the exception of gender due to current limiations on female combat assignments, there should be no limitations on any group entering the service academies. I don’t care who gets admitted, as long as they are the very best and brighest of the applicants any given year and don’t have any disqualifying traits. As far as I’m concerned, assign each application a number and forward them to the selection board with that number and M or F indicated. Take off all other ‘identifying’ information. Grade and select the applicants based on valid educational and leadership achievements and potential. That’s all that really matters.

    Because of this policy, every minority member of the USNA Class of ’13 – the qualified and the under-qualified – will forever have a stigma attached to them. Our Navy doesn’t need that, and the mids that actually had the quals to get in don’t deserve that. This policy is not inclusive or constructive, it’s unfair on its face and divisive.

  • Fouled Anchor

    And, this policy raises the question of whether the Navy is using the same (double) standards for numerous other officer accession programs (NROTC, OCS, direct commission, LDO/CWO, STA-21) and/or enlistment.

  • chaps

    Natyy says-
    “When you get that diploma, it matters not what skin color you are or aren’t. It’s like the old joke: what do they call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his medical school class? Answer: ‘doctor.’ It works the same way at Canoe U. You either get the grades or you don’t. If you do, you’re an Ensign or a 2LT.”

    Why should we think that the same system that allows entry to the USNA to those with lower high school grades and SAT scores will not also allow graduation from the USNA for those who didn’t make the standard grades?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “…do we also continue to discriminate throughout the career path?”

    “this policy raises the question of whether the Navy is using the same (double) standards for other officer accession programs (NROTC, OCS, direct commission, LDO/CWO, STA-21) and/or enlistment”

    “Why should we think that the same system that allows entry to the USNA to those with lower high school grades and SAT scores will not also allow graduation from the USNA for those who didn’t make the standard grades?”

    If this official double standard at Annapolis is perpetuated, the concerns expressed above can be counted upon to be an absolute certainty. The most slippery of slopes.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Aye, there’s the rub. If the game is fixed at the start, why should a bright young man or woman not believe it’s fixed the whole way through.

    If you believe that for your whole working life your best efforts, your blood, sweat and tears, are to be heavily discounted to enforce the compensatory preference for another group for the alleged sins of three or more generations ago, and your lot is to, as often aa not, serve under superiors with less ability than yours with little or no hope of advancement on your own merit, why apply at all?

    Why not search elsewhere, for opportunity on the basis of merit, especially if attended by higher pay, greater societal prestige, fewer social restrictions and more personal freedom? Why not go where you are valued and promoted on the basis of true merit?

    And if one of the favored group, why go to a place that thinks so little of your ability that it assumes you need permanent assistance to compensate for the handicap of being born who you are? Why not go where you are valued and promoted on the basis of true merit?

    A double edged sword, ladies and gentlemen, a double edged sword.
    And the cat is now out of the bag.

    The road ahead, if this fork is taken, leads DOWN for all.

  • LT B

    I’ll suggest Obama is an AA hire. Pick me another junior Senator that could run for President and not be told to sit down. Even the CEO of BET said the same thing. If you think his being Black had nothing to do w/ it, you are crazy. True, he also got hired on a confluence of other factors, which may be surpassed by his ability to say nothing w/ so many words, and sell something for nothing. But, yes, his race was a prime factor. As was Michelle Obama:
    ‘She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that,’ [friend Verna] Williams recalls. VDARE.com 2/25/08 Verna and Michelle went to Harvard together.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Ungh. Can we keep the CINC and Mrs. CINC out of the discussion, please?

  • http://www.usni.org admin

    “Ungh. Can we keep the CINC and Mrs. CINC out of the discussion, please?”

    DEFINITELY

  • Byron

    I think everything that needs to be said, has been said. I know damn well I’m done with it.

  • Total

    An assumption by many throughout this thread has been that entry into the USNA (or any of the academies) has *ever* been based solely on performance, or that the measures of performance have *ever* been thoroughly effective. Neither of those is true.

  • curious

    Didn’t the U of Mich get into a bucket of trouble using ‘affirmative-action’ in their admission-selections not too long ago? And wouldn’t the same fundamentals apply here?

  • Bill

    Claudio is exactly the candidate that Fleming is whining about.
    Because Claudio exhibits all of the characteristics that the Academy is looking for to develop into a leader. He was already a leader and someone who knew how to get things done. Had his grades needed a little buffing up, NAPS would have put him on track to handle the course of instruction. The admission board would have loved him.

    But, Prof Fleming would only see his SAT scores in the classroom, know nothing about his background, and strongly believe that he didn’t belong at the Academy.

    Claudio could have easily ” Taken the spot” of the privileged student to whom everything came easy and who had all of the opportunities to develop a stellar resume’.

    Who do you want to have the opportunity ? Claudio or Mr “I/m the valedictorian, I should get in” ?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    A difference between whether or not performance has been effective as the sole arbiter of qualification, and the deliberate introduction of racial/ethnic quotas in place of performance.

  • GunDog15

    I just finished explaining to my caucasian daughter why she didn’t get an appointment to the USNA. She was “so relieved” that it had nothing to do with her outstanding performance in school, her SAT scores, congressional nomination, or athletic readiness. Now that she knows that USNA appointments are all about skin color and nothing to do with qualifications or academic performance, she wants nothing to do with the service academies or military service.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hey GunDog,

    Your family should have thought about that five generations ago, when they decided to be white.

  • Byron

    GunDog, sorry your daughter had to go through this. Even sorrier that the Navy has lost a potentially fine officer.

    And I would dearly love some of the people, like Jay, to tell Gundog why it’s a good thing that his daughter was not accepted. Just freakin’ dying to hear it.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    GunDog,

    Didn’t mean to sound flippant. Echo Byron’s sentiments.

    Hey Byron, them’s crickets I’m hearin’?

  • Jay

    Oh Hi Byron, you cuddly ole’ Curmudgeon, you!

    I don’t think it is my place to tell anyone why they did, or did not get into USNA.

    That would be the admissions department’s job.

    So — the young lady in question — having been turned down from USNA once — is just giving up & walking away? No NROTC scholarship, no try again next year? No other service academy, no offer of King’s Point?

    Sorry gents — really have been paying too much attention to Iran lately.

    I am reminded of the old Q&A (this is for Bunny, who likes my sense of humor): Q – Why are academic politics so nasty? A – Because the stakes are so low.

    Really — what you need here is Navy Leadership to stand up & not just say “Diversity is the goal” but explain why it is.

    We’ll see if they do. Then again, perhaps you overestimate your carping abilities?

  • Byron

    Jay, do you always get so frivilous with an important topic, and then belitttle the years of hard work that a mans daughter poured into getting into the Academy?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jay,

    You and Natty were explaining why a less-qualified candidate for USNA should be admitted based on a racial/ethnic quota. So don’t be so modest. You sure do think it’s your place.

  • GunDog15

    Jay,

    My daughter has been accepted to another university and will start this fall. She also applied to the USCGA but was not accepted. Her plan is to see how it goes with her freshman year and then possibly re-apply, although given the circumstances (ethnic quota system), seems doubtful. I really don’t blame her. When I initially applied for LDO and CWO, I was told not to get my hopes up, that the the LDO and CWO program (like other in-service commissioning programs at the time) was leaning heavily towards a policy of “white males need not apply”. Repeated applications and a strong record of sustained superior performance eventually paid off. Unfortunately the ethnic quota system is still alive in well in the U.S.N.

  • Jay

    GunDog15 — There are multiple ways (I am sure you are aware) of getting a commission. One was (that surprised me while at college, as I had not heard of it before) that there are NROTCU scholarships that most NROTCUs “have” (really think they belong to CNET or higher) — if you get in school & have a really good first semester — you can apply & get a 3.5 year or even a four year (with the first six months of funds retrograded back to you). Or a three year option as well.

    Contrary to what Byron thinks — I don’t think she has been “lost”. Leaders find a way.

    That being said — I don’t have a problem with quotas. Our government has taken on the role of giving some folks a “leg up” for almost 60 years now, and at least 50 in the military since Pres Truman enacted integration.

    I would be more comfortable if the admissions department was taking economic factors into account more than race. However, since I don’t work there, I can’t speak for the process.

    Perhaps USNI could invite a USNA Admissison rep to state some facts & host a discussion?

    I don’t think that there is a lot of heartburn over this in the fleet, either. I seriously doubt (as some have mentioned) that this will or does question anyone’s degree, or future career.

    I have been around long enough to know that your commissioning source does not matter. How you perform in the fleet does. Leaders (generally) rise to the top. I don’t think I ever looked at a fellow Officer and thought “I wonder if they had to go to NAPS…or what their class rank or final GPA was….”.

    I find it interesting that Prof Fleming brings the issue up, but to what end? Will we see a lawsuit, similar to the U-Michigan Law School?

    Same thoughts for the weekly “Diversity Thursdays” (outrage of the week) posts. To what end? Is blogging about it really an effort to change, or just to vent?

    I still feel it falls to Navy leadership to explain why diversity is a goal — perhaps it hasn’t been clear enough on the issue.

    Or perhaps it has — and the conversation is getting the attention it deserves?

  • Natty Bowditch

    Perhaps we need MIDN Withington to tell us how many of his classmates aren’t qualified to be his classmates.

    Then URR can tell us why he believes diversity is wrong.

  • Natty Bowditch

    Sorry about GunDog’s daughter. Some things to remember, though.

    GunDog is not completely objective; it is his belief his daughter was qualified and was rejected because she was caucasian. That is not a fact.

    Some facts: the vast majority of the USCGA is caucasian. The vast majority of women cadets at USCGA are caucasian.

    So to claim it’s all about skin color is supported by no evidence.

    Another factoid (one supplied by Fleming)–academies aren’t as selective as advertised. That is, many of the service academies advertise a 10:1 application ratio or higher–IOW, 10 applicants for every admission. But Fleming points out this ratio is largely mythical; it counts not just completed applications of viable candidates but “initiated applications/queries for information-by anyone.”

    Thus, a kid who is legally blind but requests an application packet is counted as an applicant despite the fact he/she has no hope of being admitted. Fleming even cites the example of a 7th grader who sends away for information being included as an applicant.

    This is not to say getting into Canoe U or WooPoo is easy; but it is nowhere as difficult or competitive as advertised.

  • Byron

    I’m sure GunDog will appreciate your attempt to marginalize his daughters attempt to attain admission to the Academy.

    Gundog, urge your daughter to go OCS. Get commissioned. Then she can tell all the Canoe U grads that I’m the officer your school turned down.

  • Reggie

    Having read this thread through I still see that those supporting a “diversity first” approach to admissions have failed to answer the key question: why is discrimination still acceptable?

    Sure there has been a great deal of it throughout American history, but frankly it has run rampant throughout all of world history! Even Mali bought and sold slaves!

    Why should the USNA, or the Navy, wait for society to become color-blind before it does? I say any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, or gender should be stricken from any application for a position at the Academy. Conduct an experiment for one class and see how the ratios emerge. I think it would be truly telling.

  • Natty Bowditch

    Byron: Unless you’re privy to GunDog’s daughter’s academic records and such, you’re –per usual–bereft of facts.

    In both the military and civilian worlds, subjective factors are used to recruit and hire individuals. That’s why there are prcesses such as interviews, internships, tests, etc. Why? Because we know grades and test scores, by themselves, tell only part of the story. That’s what’s being missed by the anti-diversity clique.

    Take BUD/S training as an example. Why not just accept those who can run 3 mi. or can complete open water swims in a certain time? Because that’s only part of what the SEALS are about. They’re looking for folks who won’t fold under stress, who are able to function as part of a team and can push themselves beyond their own limits.

    Same goes for most civilian jobs; most companies regard school grades as important but they’ll likely only get you an interview. The interview process really is the make-or-break criteria.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Jay,

    Let me try to address some of your points/questions:
    “I don’t think that there is a lot of heartburn over this in the fleet, either.”
    – Look at the number of comments this topic gained both here and over at my home blog. Look at the subject of my posts that brings you out to comment on. Judging my the private emails I receive, your statement simply does not rest on fact. In any event, the CNO and the SUP have stated that Diversity is their #1 goal — as a result, as is our nature, officers should and will focus on the topic. It just so happens that there is more than one side to this topic.

    “I find it interesting that Prof Fleming brings the issue up, but to what end? Will we see a lawsuit, similar to the U-Michigan Law School?”
    – You should re-read Professor Fleming’s OP-ED, the reasons are clear to me.

    “Same thoughts for the weekly “Diversity Thursdays” (outrage of the week) posts. To what end? Is blogging about it really an effort to change, or just to vent?”
    – DivThu came about because the now-and-then posts I made on the topic generated significant numbers of comments, emails, and links. As it became such a popular topic, I found it interesting, and more importantly so many people were afraid to talk about it – I decided to make it a regular feature. Never at want for topics, most of the ideas come from readers that usually include “Please don’t credit or reference you received this from me …. ” Fear in a Representative Republic on what should be honest disagreement on important topics tells me there is a need for a lot more light on the subject. I may only have a 7W bulb, but a little light is better than nut’n. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but through open discussion, hopefully both sides will reach a better picture of the problem…and start communicating.

    I still feel it falls to Navy leadership to explain why diversity is a goal — perhaps it hasn’t been clear enough on the issue.
    – That I agree 100% with you. The boilerplate I have heard from the CNO on down just doesn’t fit the bill – that is why so few buy it. It is an answer that is stuck in RM 222.

    Or perhaps it has — and the conversation is getting the attention it deserves?
    – I don’t know if “deserves” is the right word, perhaps “merit” is. One way or another, the reason being sold right now isn’t sinking in as adequate or well founded – that is the reason for pushback.

    Perhaps it is a generational thing. The world view on race for someone who graduated from High School in 1969 and College in 1973 is vastly different from someone who graduated from High School in 2005 and College in 2009. Solutions that fit the ’70s are out of phase with the 21st Century. From Nixon as CINC to Obama as CINC is a very different environment – our outlook on race should reflect that difference. My opinion; yours may differ.

  • Reggie

    CDR S: I think your remarks about generational perspectives are spot on.

    The remarks supporting “diversity first” appear to favor a view on race which fit the ’70s and ’80s, but do not consider the racially mixed environment of the 21st Century.

    There is no check block for “White Non-Hispanic & African American & Asian – Pacific Islander”, so how will those of mixed race be considered for admission to any Naval program? Will they be excluded for their White heritage or because there are sufficient Asian students in the class? Perhaps because the African American male quota is full?

    Flippant? Perhaps. But it demonstrates a flaw in a system which seeks to achieve diversity for the sake of it, rather than allowing it to develop due to a screening process which removes all such references to race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.

  • Natty Bowditch

    “Look at the subject of my posts that brings you out to comment on. Judging my the private emails I receive, your statement simply does not rest on fact. ”

    Self selection bias, anyone?

    Blogs about alien abduction tend to foster posts, comments, and emails about the best design of tinfoil hats. Given your blog is extremely rightwing, it should be unsurprising it would generate lots of negative comments re diversity.

  • Byron

    Natty, you finally made my personal ignore file.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Reggie,
    I think these Sailors are an example of what we are talking about.

    That is the Navy I know and love – and one would get along just fine in a race neutral environment from the top. They are trying to live it – why do we want to drag them back to RM 222?

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    … oh and Natty? Have you ever hung out in comments at my place anytime? You have comments from all over the place are welcome and embraced – as long as you can handle other opinions as well.

    I’m for homosexuals serving openly in the military – does that make me “extremely left wing?”

    Throwing around labels doesn’t add anything to this topic or describe anything accurately … and it degrades your position.

    Focus.

  • http://xbradtc.wordpress.com XBradTC

    If the academies want to increase minority enrollment, that’s fine. But the way to do it is not through lowering the standards.

    Take some bright young grads and have them speak at middle schools and to freshmen at high schools with large minority populations. Have them available for some time, say up to 90 days, to get to know the target market, and guide potential applicants through the process. And also have them deal with the juniors and seniors who may truly be interested in applying, letting them know what to stress on their application, and what they can do to make themselves more competitive.

    Natty, no one is arguing that minorities shouldn’t have the opportunity to succeed. But setting up a different set of rules for admission is wrong. Just. Plain. Wrong. It goes against everything we Americans believe in regarding fair play. And “compensation” for the sins of our fathers is forbidden under the Constitution, as it is effectively a bill of attainder.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Natty,

    I said racial and ethnic quotas are wrong. Especially when it comes to setting aside one candidate with higher qualifications to accept a candidate with lower qualifications (or a record below qualifying level) because of skin color or ethnic origin.

    It is discrimination. Perhaps instead you can tell me why racial and ethnic discrimination is right.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    This, from Dictionary.com:

    “Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.”

  • Jay

    CDR S –

    “Look at the number of comments this topic gained both here and over at my home blog. ”

    Hmmm…if I subtract out the “usual suspects” and multiple posts — that doesn’t mean much.

    “Look at the subject of my posts that brings you out to comment on.”

    I tend to comment on some of the more uniformed posts (not just the mere venting, which I tend to ignore). My hope is that by providing a view — no one in the Fleet or outside the Navy thinks that there is any sort of “culturally accepted thought” as is the danger in the All Volunteer Force.

    “Judging my the private emails I receive, your statement simply does not rest on fact.”

    I’ll rise to the bait here — show some facts. E-mails or numbers of posts (from individuals, vice multiple posters)? Numbers of posts that can be reasonably ascertained to be from the active duty? That number bounced against the number of folks on active duty in the Navy?

    I’d like to see the facts.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    JAY:

    Were I not as old and cynical as I am, I would assume you are on active duty, in the Navy.

    Since I missed the fun of pillage and the controversy accompanying the introduction of the saker and the demisaker, and the attendant hazards of the shipboard introduction of gunpower (but not by much), clearly I no longer am.

    Are you proposing that the discussion of events and ideas is to be vetted on the basis of the age, status, or other personal quality of the contributor, rather than debated as to the factuality, pertinicity, or practicality of the ideas presented?

    Or do you just not want to debate, or hear from, those whose experience, viewpoint, or analysis differs from those of you and those with whom you share a world view.

    I’m getting a whiff of “how dare you think, speak, or write”.
    If that’s your subtext, well…
    I dare. Always have, this side of the grave, always will.

    If you disagree, good. Let’s dance.

  • Jay

    Gramps — Having done some more thought about this last night — I think CDR S may actually be in danger of trivializing some of the issues.

    Instead of fostering meaningful dialogue and action — by having a regular “Diversity Thursday” post (not on usni, but his own blog) — in which many of the same posters repeatedly comment the intellectual equivalent of “Yup”, it has become seaclutter on the scope — the easily ignorable weekly vent.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    Soooo …. increase dialogue by ….. stopping talking.

    Yep. I’ve got it now.

    Easily ignorable weekly vent” …. that always gets you to comment …. and gets the most traffic …. and the most comments ….

    Yes, I must stop blogg’n about things people find of interest. Yes, I see now.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Salamander,

    Hell of a business model, that. I think you need to pick a topic that everyone MUST agree on. You know, like a college civics discussion.

  • Byron

    Jay, I’ve found over the years, that when a majority of reasonable people agree on a topic, and the minority says that it really shouldn’t be discussed thsi way, that what the minority really knows that their position is indefensible.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Jay:

    Some of the so called issues ARE trivial. The notion that a diverse group of ambitious and dedicated intelligent young enlisted people will not attempt to advance their careers because there is a majority of non minority officers comes to mind.

    The cream rise by their nature, unless blocked. Then they move to a place where they can rise. Ability is, alas, its own minority.
    Ambitious and dedicated intelligent youth come to the Navy for the opportunities it offers. They stay when they begin to achieve their goals. If they don’t, they leave as the opportunity presents itself. When they no longer can achieve their goals, everybody leaves. By design, most are eventually shown the door.

    The Navy’s interest is to keep the best. This is because you become what you recruit and retain. If a less capable individual is favored over one more capable, and this is done systematically, the overall competence of the Navy declines, systematically. It is best to avoid this.

    Individual ability has nothing to do with race, or gender, or the numerous convoluted categories lumped under “heritage” or “ethnicity”. This is not an argument for or against equal opportunity, or racial quotas. It’s just a fact of life.

    It seems obvious then, that the Navy should cast the widest net possible in terms of recruiting. The opportunities must be advertised to ALL, as must the high standards, and the impartial search for ability.

    Regretably, race, ethnic, and gender politics are also a fact of life. To a degree this must be accomodated in the short term.
    Working with and around political foolishness is part of a flag officers job description (in invisible ink, shhh, don’t tell).

    In the long term, the Navy must recruit, retain and advance on the basis of ability. There are not enough able people. To ignore, much less suppress, able individuals , minority or majority, is counter survival behavior. We have very real and very ruthless competitors, and some very dangerous enemies.

    For the reasons set forth above, CDR S. pushing back against wrongheaded, counter productive aspects of “politics of diversity” does us all a service, as does the ensuing debate.

    Lacking the fortitude and the conviction to engage, and seeking to muzzle debate, is a bad idea. Very corrosive to initiative and developing or retaining talent.

    Cream rises. So does the other category, who rise by influence, not ability. When enough do, in a Navy, defeat will follow. Battle and the ocean are so apolitical.

    My opinion, guaranteed worth every penny you paid for it.

  • Jay

    I guess we are back at the Yup stage.

  • Byron

    Jay, Granpa just spent a fair amount of time explaining his position to you, and you come back with “yup”. Brilliant. Great job on YOUR thoughtful reply. I guess you have to devolve to statements like that when you have no more grounds with which to argue with.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Byron,

    It would appear that the difficulty of Jay’s and Natty’s respective positions is that they are unable to explain how racial and ethnic discrimination was once a significant societal evil, but now it is a good and just policy for admission to the most prestigious commissioning source for the United States Navy.

    The corollary to that difficulty is leveraging the argument that, if you could be categorized in an ethnic/racial checklist as “white”, that you somehow share responsibility for that earlier discrimination, and indeed gained by it. Despite the fact that one’s antecedents may have been busy either fighting to end such practices, or being persecuted in their homeland in the Old World at the time.

    But that’s just me, Mister Vegas…..

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ Fred Fry

    There are a number of interesting comments on the original Op-Ed as well, including this one”
    “And to all those who are commenting on the quality of our young men and women, answer this question: Has a minority student ever graduated at the bottom of his/her class?”

    It makes me wonder, who is to say that the preference given to minority students ends at admission. During my first year at the Merchant Marine Academy, my class was decimated by poor grades. Males were dropped without a second thought but women were given the benefit of the doubt when possible. Still their number dwindled into the teens by the end of the first year prompting the School to extend 2nd chances to many who were doing no better than many of those booted after the first quarter. The situation in general was so bad that Congress sent a task force (or something) to investigate, the poor grades and instruction mostly, and preferential treatment to a lesser extent.

  • Natty Bowditch

    CDR S: Your blog is about as diverse as a John Birch meeting in Fargo.

    Fred Fry: As you must surely know, you need a 2.0 (and the requisite qualifications) to graduate from a service academy. Unless you’re attempting to argue that certain folks are graduating without a 2.0 GPA, you’re blowing smoke.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Thanks, Natty. It’s the BLOG that was the problem. Not institutionalized discrimination. Got it.

  • Byron

    Natty, maybe you should head over there and ask Lt. B. about it. I’m sure he’d be glad to have some “dialog” with you.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ Fred Fry

    Natty,

    “Fred Fry: As you must surely know, you need a 2.0 (and the requisite qualifications) to graduate from a service academy.”

    Yes, it takes four years to reach that point. Whan I was at KP, You had until the end of the first year to reach that point. 1.25 Min, then 1.5, 1.75 and finish the first year with a 2.0 and then maintain it through to graduation. the school was however making exceptions to maintain certain gender numbers. Not that they were doing them any favors in that they were in deeper holes that they needed to dig themselves out of.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDRSalamander

    Natty,
    Thanks — you just completely discredited your entire argument. When someone gets personal and starts throwing “Bircher Bombs” because they cannot defend their own opinions, well, it speaks for itself.

    Good luck next time.

  • virgil xenophon

    The good perfessor’s original article may have longer legs than usual–it finally made it out of primarily the military blogosphere to the more national civilian reach of today’s Chicago Sun-Times….

  • Natty Bowditch

    Yes, it takes four years to reach that point. Whan I was at KP, You had until the end of the first year to reach that point. 1.25 Min, then 1.5, 1.75 and finish the first year with a 2.0 and then maintain it through to graduation. the school was however making exceptions to maintain certain gender numbers.

    Show me.

    As I recall, decisions concerning academic deficiciencies were made on a case-by-case basis. If you were in academic trouble, you went before an Academic Board which reviewed your individual situation. The A Board could either dismiss you, turn or set you back to a following class, or place you on some sort of probation (usually you had some time period to raise your grades). There may be some kind of remedial program or course of action such as knocking off participation in team sports and the like and/or meeting with faculty advisors to monitor progress.

    The fact remains your charges are unsubstantiated and based on hearsay. To prove this point–ask yourself how anyone would know who’s getting what grades? At the time women were first being admitted to the service academies, privacy laws were also coming into place. No longer would your juice grades be posted by name outside the dept. head’s office for all to see.

  • Natty Bowditch

    Byron:

    I was so sure I had made your “personal ignore file.”

    And to think I had already clutched my pearls, rent my clothing and retire to the fainting couch.

  • Byron

    Natty: What CDR Sala said. Best.

  • Natty Bowditch

    “What CDR Sala said.”

    But of course, Byron. From his lips to yours..

  • Byron

    Of course, meaning that Sala does my thinking. Far from it. Just a matter of agreeing on this principle. You just don’t get it, and likely never will. Suggest this ends with agree to disagree, and part like gentlemen.

  • Jay

    CDR S — just thought I would swing by & see if you had posted any numbers…

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ Fred Fry

    “To prove this point–ask yourself how anyone would know who’s getting what grades? At the time women were first being admitted to the service academies, privacy laws were also coming into place. No longer would your juice grades be posted by name outside the dept. head’s office for all to see.”

    Your kidding right? In a class with 17 or less students (and half of them standing at the door at the same time) looking at a very short list of grades, can’t figure out who is getting what, given that everyone is disclosing what they got, all in an attempt to determine what that one special classmate received. Not always possible but most of the time was.

    As for the academic board, my point was that the board which appeared eager to toss students at the beginning of the year, was not so eager by the end of the year. And no, I am not suggesting that people were kept sub 2.0 at the end of the year.

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