Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Diversity Policy Memorandum"

General T. Michael Mosely, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, as sent out "EO Letter to Airmen," which says in part:
From all walks of life--rural farms, inner cities, and every place in-between--young Americans are drawn to the call of Integrity, Service and excellence. We celebrate this diversity, recognizing that such a mix of experience leads to a breadth of perspective and broader horizons, and ultimately innovative ways to maximize our combat capabilities.
Let's pretend, for a moment, that this letter is really about geography and experience. The letter goes on:
harnessing such magnificent differences into an effective, coherent team takes solid leadership, quality training and a conscious effort toward mutual respect on all our parts. Tolerating harassment of any type is no different than committing the offense. As we become a leaner, more lethal force, we simply have no place for such potentially criminal or divisive behavior.
Mmmm . . . so the Air Force, under General Mosely's command, has made a "conscious effort" to prevent city folk from harassing country boys? That it performs "quality training" to prevent the English Lit geeks from assaulting the wrench-and-screwdriver types? But here's what's really going on:
We are all Airmen, and under enemy fire the race, religion, sex or geographic origin of the Airmen fighting next to us is irrelevant. We expect you to exhibit a similar whole-hearted respect toward your fellow Airmen.
So it's not really about experience. It is about the litany: race, sex, religion, with "geographic origin" a recent addition, probably referring to immigrant status. So I have some questions for the General:

1. What counts as "divisive behavior"? If the coach of the USAFA football team says that blacks run fast, is he violating your expectations? If so, then how, exactly, does the mere fact of "blackness" "maximize our combat capabilities"?
2. When a Muslim sergeant in the U.S. Army throws a grenade into a tent, killing two and wounding 14 of his "fellow soldiers", how, exactly, is his religion "irrelevant"?

Let's continue:
The United States' first national motto, "E pluribus unum," means "out of many, one." The motto . . . subsequently took on a new meaning as people from all over the glove immigrated here, making the U.S. a multicultural "melting pot."
It appears the General has difficulty maintaining consistency in a single sentence. The phrase "melting pot" originally meant that a single national and cultural identity would be forged from the "melting" of the various immigrant groups in the New World. But "multiculturalism" means exactly the opposite: that the various immigrant groups retain their national and cultural identities.

If the general had been honest, he could have said that, given the reality of diversity in the Armed Forces, harassment and discrimination are inimical to its effectiveness. No argument here; indeed, the military has always been ahead of the social curve on racial integration. Nor would I deny that individuals of different races, religions, and sexes have made their contribution to the military mission. But the General goes beyond this. We are to celebrate diversity, yet no evidence is every presented that diversity, in and of itself, is an asset, while much evidence exists that it carries the potential for liability--as the General's memorandum implies. And, oh yeah, we must never actually notice the ways we are diverse! (As Coach Fisher deBerry learned the hard way.)

And of course, the General's veiled threat is necessary to compel everyone to submit to obvious lies.

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