Sunday, July 12, 2009

Be Very Afraid

The number one priority of the United States Naval Academy isn't defense, says Bruce Fleming, an English professor there:
The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced in Annapolis recently that "diversity is the number one priority" at the Naval Academy.

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.

The stunning revelation last week was that the Naval Academy had an incoming class that was "more diverse" than ever before: 35 percent minority.

Sounds good, only this comes with a huge price tag. It's taxpayers who bankroll the military. Yet nobody has asked us if we're willing to pay this price. Instead we're being told there is no price to pay at all. If you believe that, you probably also believe in the Tooth Fairy.

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.
Fleming's accusation has sparked widespread debate. I haven't examined the admissions data; still, I wonder why preserving the world's strongest Navy ever could slip to priority two.

(via Powerline)

18 comments:

suek said...

You ask a legitimate question, but in their defense, I can see the possibility that for some short period of time, less than qualified applicants will be accepted, but as word gets out that minority applications _are_ available and being actively solicited, more qualified minority applications will predominate until balance is achieved.

No, it's not ideal, and if carried on for too long will definitely affect overall quality of the branch...but if the expectation is that it will be a short term action, I _can_ see the possibility of good things coming from it.

Maybe.

Carl said...

suek:

Yet, regarding race, education and geography, our military already looks like us. And though the outcomes aren't comparable, integrating women necessitated lowering some effectiveness thresholds.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Simple. If we can't be the nation that liberals want, we don't deserve to be a nation at all. Having people killed unnecessarily, or even being defeated as a nation by a country of no diversity whatsoever is not a problem.

OBloodyHell said...

> as word gets out that minority applications _are_ available and being actively solicited, more qualified minority applications will predominate until balance is achieved


No. This assumes that some inherent racial prejudice was in situ in the first place. If the minorities weren't making it in, it was probably because they weren't qualifying in the first place, or those who qualified were selecting other occupations.

What this is going to do is simply cause "whitebread" people like me (hey, I'm half Italian!) to check various such boxes and DARE someone to call us on it.

It's complete BS, suek. It's the sort of thing that directly leads to the sacking of Rome.

When politics overrides merit in all things, then the success of this country, based on its meritocracy for the most part, is doomed.

suek said...

Your article quotes information concerning "enlistees"...not officers. What is the make up of the officer corp racially speaking?

There are problems - first, if you develop a "quota" mentality, I think that's unacceptable. If, however, you see that the officer corp is very dominantly white, I can see working to try to increase involvement of minority races, even if it means lowering reuirements for a short period. I also agree that the period should be _short_, not permanent, and to be honest, I have a personal opinion that most women should not be in the forces that are directly involved in combat. The problem with having women in combat forces is that of their physical capabilities, the effect they have on their fellow soldiers and the effect they have on the enemy. A muslim, for example, might surrender to another man - unlikely he'll do that for a woman.
By the way - somewhat unrelated - I also think that no person who is the sole support and only responsible parent of minors should be in the military. If something happens to bring about that situation, I think that person should be discharged. JMO.

suek said...

>>This assumes that some inherent racial prejudice was in situ in the first place.>>

Disagree. It may also be that minorities may not apply because they _assume_ that prejudice is in situ. The Navy program is actively recruiting...the word gets out, and hopefully encourages more minority applications, which then hopefully permits more selectivity and raising the standards again.

>>...to check various such boxes and DARE someone to call us on it.>>

Heh. More power to you!

>>When politics overrides merit in all things, then the success of this country, based on its meritocracy for the most part, is doomed.>>

I agree with you. But I could tolerate a bit of bend for a short time. If it works, then it's a good thing. If it doesn't then it needs to be eliminated - although this might be the tough part.

I think it depends on how much of the action is to fill a quota, and how much of it is to address something seen as a problem. Clarence Thomas was a beneficiary of affirmative action... I think it _can_ be a good thing. If temporary. The temporary part is the hard part.

Carl said...

suek:

Good point on the data. A brief search uncovered this 2003 release comparing the racial make-up of military officer active-duty accessions with the civilian college graduate population: slightly over-representational among blacks, slightly under-representational among Hispanics. Neither disparity seemed enormous--especially given how much the gap had closed since Vietnam.

OBloodyHell said...

> It may also be that minorities may not apply because they _assume_ that prejudice is in situ.

Adding bias is not the way to approach assumed bias. That just ticks off anyone who earned it and didn't get it solely because of their skin color.

The only proper way to eliminate race prejudice is to make it very clear that there is none. Release statistics that show that, of the applicants, the best ones were chosen regardless of race.

Frankly, and, for the most part, a double-blind system for application consideration should be maintained as far as possible -- even to the point of removing all school names and location names from applications prior to review by the qualifying individual or committee. The content of an application should be judged based on the content, not the race or racial association of any applicant.

> But I could tolerate a bit of bend for a short time.

So, why can't we bend it juuuuuust a little bit more?

Slippery slope, foot-in-the-door, and all that.

> The temporary part is the hard part.

Ah, suek. Still believe in Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy, do we?

This is the government. They still have Wool and Mohair Price Supports.

suek said...

Hey! They _NEED_ those wool and mohair price supports! Have you any idea how few sheep we have in the US these days? All the lamb you get in the stores is from Australia...! (not that meat sheep are wool sheep - but the sheep industry is pretty much gone, I think)

And - I forgot - too bad they didn't have price supports for buggy whips as well. Business died just a bit too early, I guess.

Unfortunately, I can't rebut your statements. On the other hand, I find the application of diversity as the highest requirement to be _so_ un-military and _so_ unacceptable, that I find myself forced to try to find _some_ justification for it. I do believe that in the 60s and 70s there was a push to "find" blacks who were promotable, and some of the "affirmative action" principles were applied. I don't think that's true today. In other words, I think the military - as opposed to "the government" - can use a tool such as this and dispose of it when it serves no purpose. The other possibility is that the military has been successfully infiltrated by the activists, in which case, we're toast.

suek said...

" * In FY 2003, African Americans were equitably represented in the military overall. In the enlisted force, African Americans were slightly overrepresented among NPS active duty enlisted accessions at 15 percent relative to 14 percent of 18-24 year-olds in the civilian population.
* African American officer accessions are fairly representational at just under 9 percent compared to just over 8 percent in the civilian comparison group."

I'm not sure I understand the full implications of this statement. It seems to say that while the enlisted forces are about 15% black - which is comparable to the number within the general population of that age, the 9% in the officer group is comparable to an 8% college graduate group of blacks within the general population. My assumption is that by looking for more blacks to recruit, they're trying to increase the black officer population to closer to the 15% of the general population. The numbers in the enlisted group indicate that the problem isn't the desire of blacks to join the military, the problem seems to be getting blacks to the education level needed to join the officer corp. And it appears that it's a problem in the civilian colleges as well.

Is there anything within the black race to prevent this? I don't think so...personally, I think it's a cultural issue, and a tough nut to crack. The military led - imo - in transforming the culture in the US to one that is significantly less racist than it was before the military took an active hand in preventing racism within its forces. Maybe they can take the lead again in assisting blacks to take a step up.

I don't know. I grant that I may be overly optimistic - but frankly, I'd rather think they intend to achieve some particular purpose than accept the other option - that we have dyed in the wool libs who are the policy managers at the Academies.

suek said...

Just because I know you'll find this tidbit fascinating:

http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/ansc442/Semprojs/2002/wool/economics_of_wool_production2.htm

You know...the energy green thing could turn this whole picture around...! Maybe it's time to invest!

OBloodyHell said...

> Hey! They _NEED_ those wool and mohair price supports! Have you any idea how few sheep we have in the US these days? All the lamb you get in the stores is from Australia...! (not that meat sheep are wool sheep - but the sheep industry is pretty much gone, I think)

1) I'm assuming you are being facetious

2) As the article notes, the military switched from wool to dacron in the 50s.

3) If there has been a notable decrease in sheep ranching, that, once more, is a product of government control at its finest -- the whole enviro-whacko crowd has been attacking sheep ranching for decades.

OBloodyHell said...

> In other words, I think the military - as opposed to "the government" - can use a tool such as this and dispose of it when it serves no purpose. The other possibility is that the military has been successfully infiltrated by the activists, in which case, we're toast.

suek, the military IS the government. There's no difference, because the only time there is any accountability is during wartime. And I mean "WWII" wartime, not really so much a low-level conflict like Iraq.

If you think the military is any different, I strongly suggest you need to read, at the least, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

Boyd worked tirelessly and nearly alone for decades, with only a handful of individuals, to change the course of the army/navy/marines. It was like pulling teeth, and, while he did manage some success (mainly due to people like Cheney who had some semblance of brains to patron him), there is a mass of resistance to changing to new ideas, even after the ideas have been demonstrated as effective.

Carl said...

suek:

Whatever the USNA is trying to do, their student body already is racially representative of college graduates. OBH's right on Boyd.

suek said...

>>their student body already is racially representative of college graduates>>

You mean representative of student bodies in the nation? Because their student body isn't made up of college graduates - until they graduate.

re: military vs government

>>...there is a mass of resistance to changing to new ideas, >>

True. Which is why the concept of affirmative action is going to be very difficult to inculcate within a military population. I think there will be tremendous resistance and after a few years it will disappear.

>>...the whole enviro-whacko crowd has been attacking sheep ranching for decades.>>

I'm not aware of this - at least attacking sheep ranching any more than any animal use ranching. Assuming it's true though, it's pretty stupid. As I recall, dacron is an oil derived product - as are all our synthetics. Wool isn't. You'd think they'd be promoting "natural" fabrics. The conversion of non-arable lands to usable product.

The decrease in sheep ranching is more likely due to land availability, the cost of acreage for pasture, and the lack of labor for sheepherding. Sheepherders have never had a great reputation. There's a reason for that. I suspect the number of individuals who are willing to put up with the type of life required for the job are pretty minimal.

As I said before...it isn't that I think either of you is wrong...I just find that your being right is totally unacceptable and I'm looking for alternatives. Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy if need be.

OBloodyHell said...

> True. Which is why the concept of affirmative action is going to be very difficult to inculcate within a military population.

Horse. Cart.

Not

Cart. Horse.

Or, putting it another way, "deCarte" only goes before "de Horse" in a dictionary.


Wait.

Is this bobn arguing under a fake name?

> The decrease in sheep ranching is more likely due to land availability

No, I've already encountered a piece on this a decade or so ago. The decline in sheep ranching is entirely due to environmental whackjobs and their extreme hostility to any form of sheep ranching. Sheep can live off land that cattle can't, but they need large areas where so. GreenWhacks have this major problem with the idea of anyone making any money using public lands for such (even when there's absolutely no other possible benefit... we're talking scrublands in Nevada, for example), and so, under pressure from GreenWhacks, they've steadily taken away land-use rights which have been granted to sheep ranchers. The land in question isn't supposed to be "altered in any way by man" ... as though its current state is even vaguely what it was 15,000 years ago.

> You'd think they'd be promoting "natural" fabrics. The conversion of non-arable lands to usable product.

Except that it's far, far easier to make a thousand miles of dacron thread than to make a thousand miles of wool thread using modern tech. And wool happens to be scratchy.

suek said...

>>No, I've already encountered a piece on this a decade or so ago.>>

What...only a decade ago? I'm afraid my familiarity precedes that. In fact, precedes the major environmental whackjobs. So..we may both be right on this one. Land availability is the issue, but land availability has been affected by the whackjobs. I can accept that.

>>Is this bobn arguing under a fake name?>>

Heh. Am I arguing in _favor_ of the Academy priorities? I don't _think_ so! Actually, I find them as appalling as you do. I'm trying to find a reasonable explanation for that which appears to be unreasonable. It may not be possible. It may, in fact, be exactly what it appears to be - stupidity.

I think I'm repeating myself.

suek said...

>>And wool happens to be scratchy.>>

Just a by the way...

That's part of the reason why it's so warm (only part). It causes a mild skin irritation when it comes into contact with bare skin, and that results in greater blood flow to the capillaries in the immediate area, resulting in a warmed skin.

Obviously not the case when you wear it over something, but then you wouldn't find it scratchy either!