Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Elephant in the Room: Diversity, but at what cost?

Political correctness in the military is not merely absurd. It's dangerous.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan: Dots were not connected.
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan: Dots were not connected.
Six U.S. Naval Academy students were to form the color guard at Game 2 of the World Series, played Oct. 29 at Yankee Stadium. Everything was going fine until the academy brass discovered something terribly amiss, and Capt. Matthew Klunder jumped into action. Klunder, the commandant of midshipmen, ordered that two members of the color guard be replaced.

Were the midshipmen cut because of incompetence? Was there some disciplinary problem? No. They were benched because they are - white men. The Naval Academy's top officials had decided the color guard needed a white woman and a Pakistani American man for the sake of "diversity."

The color guard had practiced as a group of six and always intended to march as six. The two midshipmen who were replaced were invited to go to the game anyway and serve as backup.

But while en route to the game, the Pakistani American midshipman noticed that he had forgotten his cover (hat) and shoes. The more senior of the two replaced midshipmen had his full uniform and was able to fill in.

After word got out about the color guard changes, the Naval Academy, in an effort to mitigate the controversy, issued a news release stating that it had decided to expand the color guard to eight members.

The academy's official Web site calls diversity its "highest personnel priority." I think it's possible to favor diversity and still wonder if it should be the Naval Academy's "highest personnel priority." Is the academy, dare I say, going overboard?

I fear it is. Unfortunately, though, it's also perfectly in line with official Navy policy. After all, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, proclaimed when he was head of the Navy that "diversity" is a "strategic imperative."

All the way down to color guards at baseball games.

Is this policy affecting more than dress parades and sporting events? According to the Washington Post, Bruce Fleming, a tenured English professor and former member of the Naval Academy's admissions committee, wrote in an Annapolis newspaper in June that the academy employs a two-tiered admissions system that is much easier on minority applicants.

"First of all, we're dumbing down the Naval Academy," Fleming told the Post. "Second of all, we're dumbing down the officer corps."

The Fort Hood massacre is now forcing us to consider whether the military's commitment to "diversity" as job one prevented military officials and the Department of Defense from "connecting the dots" when it came to the accused shooter.

You remember that concept, right? "Connecting the dots" was all the rage right after 9/11. Just eight years later, however, we're all wondering how the military brass failed to notice the many red flags surrounding Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, including his vocal opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, his Islamic proselytizing, and his ties to radical Islamists.

Could a perverse and overriding commitment to "diversity" have something to do with this deadly failure?

"Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength," Gen. George Casey said on NBC's Meet the Press after the murders. "And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse."

Worse? Worse than all the Fort Hood carnage? This comment is appalling in and of itself, but coming from the most senior general in the U.S. Army?

I don't believe that Casey believes the Army's commitment to "diversity" trumps the deaths of the Fort Hood victims. But this is the kind of politically correct incantation that forces otherwise reasonable people to say silly things, and to behave in ways that are worse than silly - with disastrous consequences.

It's not a critical national-security matter when a few white male midshipmen almost get bounced from a color guard. After the Fort Hood killings, however, we should look at the military's blind commitment to "diversity" and see if it's blinding us to the obvious - and the dangerous.


Rick Santorum can be reached at rsantorum@phillynews.com.
Rick Santorum
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