Senior Military Colleges (i.e., The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute, Norwich, Texas A&M, etc.) and the Service Academies have experienced awful and quite real incidents of bigoted, racist behavior over the years, but each of the incidents I personally know of were swiftly investigated and the Cadets brought to justice.
The right Cadets, mind you – The perpetrators of the act. I remember being absolutely furious when I was a Cadet during my junior year, when as we ran past the chow hall for morning PT at 0530, my peers and I noticed a large sign painted on sheets hanging from one of the barracks. The sign read “Happy James Earl Ray Day”.
It was Dr. Martin Luther King Day.
The reaction of the Commandant’s office was swift and brutal, to my utter lack of surprise. Even as a very young Army brat in the early 1970’s it was made clear to me that racism was absolutely verboten for military personnel and their families (not that such behavior was a problem for we brats…Our DODSSEUR (Department of Defense School System Europe) overseas schools were so thoroughly integrated that skin color had absolutely nothing to do with anything).
The Cadets responsible for the noxious sign were identified the same day the sign was displayed, drummed out of the Corps of Cadets, and an assembly was convened the same week to reinforce the Army’s policy regarding racism. In short, it was and is an offense that will, without fail, see a soldier or officer cashiered.
But this…This is so 2017 that I absolutely dread the years to come.
Academy Superintendent Lieutenant General Jay Silveria stirred the Internet in September when—not to mix military metaphors—he ordered the institution’s 4,900 cadets and staff to shape up or ship out following the discovery on campus of racist graffiti. “If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out,” Silveria said in a speech that quickly scored more than 1 million YouTube hits. “If you can’t treat someone from another race, or different color skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”
It was a textbook social-justice-movement moment—judgment first, facts afterward—insofar as Silveria had no clue who had scrawled the slur, no apparent interest in finding out, and no hesitation in spreading responsibility for it as widely as possible. And when the “hate crime” turned out to have been a hoax—the perp was a black student enrolled in an academy-preparatory program and one of five alleged “targets” of the slur—that didn’t slow down the academy’s virtue-signaling. “By embracing our differences, we help create a culture of respect and dignity,” said the academy’s director of culture, climate and diversity, Yvonne Roland. “As an institution of higher education and a military installation, we prepare our cadets to meet the challenges of an ever-changing global environment and to value ethics and human dignity.”
Valuing ethics and human dignity is baked into every officer candidate, be they competing for a commission through SROTC, a Senior Military College, or one of the Service Academies. For SROTC and Senior Military Cadets, the competition for an active duty commission is VERY stiff these days, and Cadets committed to winning first a contract for commissioning, then an active duty commission would never dream of displaying overt racism or bigotry.
The black Air Force Academy preparatory program STUDENT (preparatory program, mind you, not yet a Cadet) who attempted to smear every non-black student at the Academy with his “hoax” (what we would have called an Article 15 offense on active duty) got off lightly, IMHO, but the language in the City Journal is even more disturbing: “…we prepare our cadets to meet the challenges of an ever-changing global environment…”
Hold one. What the devil has an “ever-changing global environment” to do with preparing Cadets to serve as officers in the Armed Forces? These young men and women, once commissioned, trained further in their occupational specialty, and assigned to their first duty station will be immersed in preparing to execute the tactics and strategy currently in place with their service – Please God not immersed in “virtue signaling”, as Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit puts it.