Mr. Roughead’s Race-Based Navy

Affirmative action might be alive and well. Just look at the incoming class at the U.S. Naval Academy. With a “minority” population of 35 percent, one could call this the face of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead’s “diverse” Navy. Since coming on board as CNO, Roughead’s diversity efforts have been in overdrive. The Navy’s actions in this area appear forced; ask Ol’ Gary and it seems OK with him.

We first wrote of Roughead’s “interest” (read: obsession) in diversity with the Black Engineer of the Year Award.  After looking at the pedigree of the Navy’s winner, our guess was he could score top honors regardless of race. When pressed, the Navy told us they supported a number of race-based awards. We were shocked.

At a recent Naval Academy alumni gathering outside Washington, D.C., we heard the CNO (Class of ’73) told the alum chums the Navy is “too white” and the issue of diversity is important to him. It seems he thinks these uber-efforts will serve the greater good of … the Navy? Society? Does he know something the other services don’t, though they are less white than Roughead’s Boys in Blue?

Back at Annapolis, the Naval Academy used to choose the best qualified, which often meant the most well-rounded — strong academic and athletic skills, proven leadership, extracurricular activities. Injecting race into the mix destabilizes a system that has been surprisingly fair. It tosses waning values like fairness and equity right off the Academy seawall.

In a recent article, Academy Professor Bruce Fleming dished. He says there is a separate set of standards for minority applicants.  While white applicants must have 600s on the SAT and grades of As and Bs, minority candidates are allowed lower SAT scores and grades. In fact, he writes that minority applicants with SATs in the 300s and grades down in the Cs and Ds will be sent to the Naval Academy prep school to help them prepare for the rigors of academy life. (This is common, regardless of race.)

Let’s be brutal: Will minorities in the Navy be labeled quota fillers, as they have for decades? When do those long-term, greater-good benefits kick in? Is it worth engaging in these practices? We’ve been told Roughead has opened new Navy ROTC units at three traditionally black colleges.

Sources also have pointed to similar trends for Navy flag promotions both in race and gender. Specific examples of official, subpar performance were noted for more than one selectee. Congratulations are in order to all selected, but are they now saddled with the questions and whispers and blog entries that appear sexist, racist and no better than the misplaced mutterings that often have accompanied change?

Navy: Most are over the race and gender deal. Best qualified gets the golden ring. This is old news on the legal circuit. We see a court challenge brewing.

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