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Dumbing-Down the U.S. Navy

Comment

"Naval Academy Professor Challenges Rising Diversity," ran the headline in The Washington Post.

The impression left was that some sorehead was griping because black and Hispanic kids were finally being admitted.

The Post's opening paragraphs reinforced the impression.

"Of the 1,230 plebes who took the oath of office at the Naval Academy in Annapolis this week, 435 were members of minority groups. It's the most racially diverse class in the nation's 164-year history. Academy leaders say it's a top priority to build a student body that reflects the racial makeup of the Navy and the nation."

Who can be against diversity?

What the Post gets around to is that 22-year English professor Bruce Fleming objects to a race-based admissions program that was apparently used to create a class that is 35 percent minority.

According to Fleming, who once sat on the board of admissions, white applicants must have all As and Bs and test scores of at least 600 on the English and math parts of the SAT even to qualify for a "slate" of 10 applicants, from which only one will be chosen.

However, if you check a box indicating you are African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian, writes Fleming, "SAT scores to the mid 500s with quite a few Cs in classes ... typically produces a vote of 'qualified' ... with direct admission to Annapolis. They're in and given a pro forma nomination to make it legit."

If true, the U.S. Naval Academy is running a two-tier admissions system of the kind that kept Jennifer Gratz out of the University of Michigan and was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

"Minority applicants with scores and grades down to the 300s and Cs and Ds also come, though after a year at our taxpayer-supported remedial school, the Naval Academy Preparatory School."

If true, this is a national disgrace. It would represent a U.S. Naval Academy policy of systematic race discrimination, every year, against hundreds of white kids who worked and studied their entire lives for the honor of being appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming career officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.

If true, what Annapolis has done and is doing is worse — because it is premeditated and programmed racism — than the cowardly act of the New Haven city government in denying Frank Ricci and the white firefighters the promotions they had won in a competitive exam. At least New Haven could say it acted out of fear of being sued.

Yet, Chief of Naval Operations Adm.

Gary Roughead and the Superintendent of the Naval Academy Vice Adm. Jerry Fowler seem quite proud of what they are doing.

Fleming quotes the CNO as saying that "diversity is the number one priority" at the academy. Fowler says he wants Annapolis graduates who "looked like" the fleet, where 42 percent of enlisted personnel are nonwhite.

The diversity midshipmen, says Fleming, who teaches them, are over-represented in "pre-college lower track courses, mandatory tutoring programs and less-challenging majors. Many struggle to master basic concepts."

Thus, though unqualified for college work, these students will be operating the most sophisticated and complex weapons systems ever built — aircraft carriers, Aegis cruisers, nuclear submarines.

"First of all, we're dumbing-down the Naval Academy," charges Fleming. "Second of all, we're dumbing-down the officers corps."

Supporting Fleming's claim, 22 percent of incoming plebes in 2009 had SAT scores in math below 600, compared to 12 percent in 2008.

If the facts are as Fleming states — the academy is accepting dumber and dumber students to get its racial composition right — who can deny that the price of diversity is deliberate acceptance of a less able and competent United States Navy?

"Diversity is our number one priority," Roughhead is quoted. Can one imagine Adm. Chester Nimitz or "Bull" Halsey making an insipid statement like that? Can one imagine what Adm. David "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" Farragut would have thought of such a policy?

Whatever happened to the Hyman Rickover-Jimmy Carter motto for the Naval Academy and U.S. Navy: "Why Not the Best?"

Consider. If hundreds of black and Hispanic kids who applied to the academy had been rejected though they had higher grades and SAT scores than those admitted, this story would not have been in the Metro section of the Post. It would have been bannered on page one. And Roughead and Fowler would be explaining to a congressional committee why they should not be relieved of their commands.

Fleming, who still teaches at Annapolis, and has likely had some unpleasant moments since he blew the whistle on his superiors, has shown considerable moral courage.

Hopefully, Congress will show the same moxy and investigate this outage. Hopefully, some of those white kids, cheated out of their life's dream of attending the Naval Academy — while less qualified kids were admitted — will sue the academy, just like Frank Ricci and those gutsy firefighters sued the city of New Haven.

Patrick Buchanan is the author of the new book "Churchill, Hitler and 'The Unnecessary War." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Mr. Buchanan, although you are exactly right...this sort of social engineering is really nothing new for the Navy. I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1972...and as a Company Commander of the Plebe Summer Detail (we had Plebes then) in the summer of 1971, I got to see firsthand the lengths the Navy was taking at that time to force diversity candidates into and through the system.
The Navy was determined... in the face of growing national racial unrest... to reverse its long held image as being a WA.S.P. ol' boys club....particularly its officer corps.
I had a young black man in my company who...although he was evidently otherwise a fine person...he could only manage 400's on his SATs...he lasted about one semester and first year chemistry washed him out.
This push for diversity forced overall changes in the Naval Academy curriculum...and across all the service academies...from ones that emphasized math, science, and engineering...to a more user-friendly mish-mash of political-science-quasi-systems analysis, long-on-the-bull-short-on-the-rigor courses of study aimed at keeping some of these candidates in long enough to graduate. The excuse given was that the Navy needed such graduates...as if a BS in political science with no real world experience had any real value for a young military officer.
Admiral Rickover understood the folly of that approach and had excoriated the Navy for this drift during his career.
But the Navy does not just stop such efforts at the Naval Academy's gate...just look at the history of how women were introduced into Naval Aviation Training. The Navy had decided in the early 70's that they were going to have women Naval Aviators...so with great fan fair they hand picked a group of women who had thousands of private flight hours, collectively and individually, and put them into Pensacola along with the rest of us. These women were far more experienced pilots than their future Navy instructors...but they were picked to give the Navy the big success they wanted for the sake of looking good for the media.
These gals were ballyhoo'd to all and the Navy made a big deal of saying how that they would be treated no differently than the men and would follow the same course of training.
That is... until they had to run the obstacle course at Pensacola and they arrived at the "wall." This was a typical military obstacle course wall-obstacle...about 10 feet or so tall with ropes hanging down...you had to grab the rope and pull yourself to the top where you could reach the top of the wall and wench yourself over...every soldier and sailor in history knows about this thing.
Well, the girls got there and could not reach the top...my class was one week ahead of the women...I was there... and I saw this group of future Naval Aviators huddle at the base of the wall and hold a tear-fest because of the bad ol' wall. Seems they lacked the upper body strength to get up it. Now, in fairness, not all of the male trainees had the umph to get over the wall the first time. Those that flunked got singled out...harassed and abused until they either got strong enough and determined enough to clear the wall...or they failed and were washed out.
The Navy had a different plan for the women aviators.
The rationale for the wall and the other upper body strength requirements...that Naval Aviators and flight crew needed to be able to pull themselves out of a crippled aircraft by their upper body strength, alone... got thrown out.
"Why, women are different," the Navy said in a moment of clarity.
They relaxed the requirement to a point where the girls could pass, end of problem.
This is the same old thing.
The problem I have with it is that the Navy just won't say it like it is... "Look, our military has become a mirror of our nation's lower socio-eonomic layers...particularly since we no longer have enough manufacturing and other well-paying blue collar jobs that we long ago shipped to China...therefore we just have to get more African-American and Hispanic faces in our officer corps...especially into our showplaces for public relations...our service academies...to do so we have to relax admission standards to those academies otherwise we will never our "diversity" targets."
No, what we get is more rationalization and explanations of why the relaxation of these standards is for the best.
I have decided that all of this is just another "unintended consequence" of replacing the colorblind standard of merit with a subjective standard of "fairness."
Too late to fix it...all more the pity.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Hangzhoudave
Tue Jul 7, 2009 8:12 AM
When will people realize that class standing, SAT /ACT scores, and grades are not the only qualities of good leadership? There were many high school valedictorians who did not make it to graduation in the class of 1975 at USNA. There were many who didn't last through Plebe Summer. Yet those that remained became quality officers of the Navy and Marine Corps. Sen. McCain didn't graduate at the top of his class yet he is a well respected Senator and launched a bid to become President of the United States. There are many minority Admirals and Generals in the Navy and Marine Corps. I don't believe that all of them graduated at the top of their class. Take a look at the results at the end of 4 years. Measure the quality of the officers then.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Ray
Tue Jul 7, 2009 11:46 AM
Re: Ray
I think you have confused the point. There are many examples of people who have not done well in school or academic preparation who go onto become great successes in their chosen field. We can all relate such stories.
You just never know who will become a star.
The point is about admission standards. If you have one set of standards for one group...and another for a different group...who is to make the value judgement required to set those standards so that the process...a publically funded process...is fair to everyone?
Why doesn't the poor German-American kid from Fredericksburg...with no family connections and no institutional influence...get the same break on the service academy admission standards as a black or hispanic kid from similar circumstances?
He just might graduate from the Naval Academy and become the Admiral who led us to victory in the Pacific theater of WWII.
Under today's system, Chester Nimitz might have had to become a rancher.
You just never know.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Hangzhoudave
Thu Jul 9, 2009 5:58 AM
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