By Dr Ronald Scott Jr., Colonel, USAF (Ret), USAFA Class of ‘73
On December 3, 2021, the Military Times website published an article titled “We Just Feel It: Racism Plagues US Military Academies.” In it, the authors discuss the history of racism in the US military, briefly mention that progress has been made, but go on to allege that systemic and individualistic racism are still rampant within the academies.
I read the article by Morrison, Wieffering and Nasir with some interest. I immediately pictured a modern version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm in which today’s Farmer Jones is the American white male.
Like Orwell’s Animal Farm, we have new “woke” commandments, the most significant one being “all Americans shall be anti-racist.” Being against racism is not enough according to one of America’s Animal Farm prophets, Ibram X. Kendi. According to Kendi, anti-racist means anti-white because that form of discrimination is the only way to correct past racism. As Kendi puts it,
“The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
Orwell’s farm life devolved such that there was only one remaining commandment: “All animals are created equal; some are more equal than others.” The current emphasis on equity in the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” political movement is an example of this last commandment.
The “We Just Feel It” article is an example of self-fulfilling prophecy, a phenomenon first coined by eminent sociologist Robert K. Merton. A self-fulfilling prophecy “is a sociological term used to describe what happens when a false belief influences people’s behavior in such a way that it ultimately shapes reality.”
How do I conclude this? Let me explain.
In 1996, as a Vice Wing Commander in Japan, I typically attended equal opportunity training sessions for newcomers to the base to emphasize leadership support. During one session, a young Airman introduced herself as “a proud African American and I know there is racial discrimination at this base.”
After the session, I introduced myself and asked if she had reported the discrimination. She said no. I followed up with the assertion that we take our zero-tolerance policy (against harassment and discrimination) seriously and want to ensure we vigorously enforce that policy. Thus, it would help to have some specific details so that we can investigate any violations. She admitted she had no specific details, but she knew in her heart it was taking place.
Fast forward to November 2017. A friend alerted me to a YouTube video of the U.S. Air Force Academy Superintendent chastising (“if you can’t accept our values, get out”) the entire cadet wing from the Mitchell Hall (dining facility) balcony. It was based on an incident at the nearby Academy Prep School where five black students had a racial slur written on a message board outside their room. It turned out to be a hoax. The perpetrator was a fellow black student.
This did not matter to the Superintendent because in his mind systemic racism exists at the Academy. He further made this point in a July 8, 2020, letter to “The Academy Family.” In the letter, the Superintendent directed the following:
USAFA/DS and USAFA/EO will co-chair an institutional assessment and review for biases within our policies, processes, practices, curriculum, and artifacts. The objective is to assess and capture racial disparities specific to African Americans and other identity groups in processes unique to USAFA. Results and recommendations will be provided to me NLT 18 September, and will be used to make tangible, lasting changes, and to inform future actions.
As a member of “The Academy Family” (Class of 1973), I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents stemming from and related to this “institutional assessment.” The request was filed on October 12, 2020. Despite the statutory requirement to respond to requests within 10 days (20 for more complex requests), the request remains open, and I have not received the “results and recommendations” required to be provided to the Superintendent NLT 18 September 2020.
Despite the looming and ubiquitous woke cancel culture, Professor Wilfred Reilly, a courageous black scholar from Kentucky State University, published an important book, Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left Is Selling a Fake Race War. The analysis is based on facts and evidence, not “we feel it” anecdotes. The most significant implication from sentiment represented in the “we feel it” article is the self-fulfilling prophecy element.
We have seen this movie before. Among other scholars, Hannah Arendt captured this phenomenon in her seminal work, The Origins of Totalitarianism. The book includes 13 chapters. Here are words contained in the various chapter titles: Antisemitism, Jews, Race-Thinking, Racism, Race, Pan-Movement, Classless Society, Ideology and Terror. It is happening in America.