USAFA has something to hide? What are they, the CIA?
On January 16, 2024, USAFA responded to STARRS FOIA 2021-03598-F, filed on July 3, 2021, with 48 pages.
That is 936 days. Or 2 years, 6 months, 22 days. Or 30 months, 22 days it took for them to respond about a book (CARTOON book, we might add).
The FOIA request ( STARRS_FOIA_7.3.2021 ) requested records related to the George Takei book, They Called Us Enemy, issued to all incoming Class of 2025 USAFA cadets in the summer of 2021.
INITIAL OVERVIEW OF THE RESULTS:
a. Out of 48 pages, 38 pages are entirely redacted. It really is like reading through a redacted intelligence agency document yet worse. What is so classified about a decision to choose a book?
b. Did not provide any records in response to question one of three that asked for background details for the One Book, One USAFA program
c. “Yes, we did purchase books for last year’s incoming class through the IFC.” [Institute for Future Conflict]
d. “I am reaching out to inquire about the availability and the process for requesting foundation funds to purchase AY2021 One Book, One USAFA texts.”
e. March 18, 2021: Subject: Re: DFENG News!: “My recommendation is already on the list: They Called Us Enemy. George Takei’s graphic memoir hits all the criteria you’ve mentioned, plus it highlights how military thinking has played an outsized role in discriminatory policies and practices. Seems ready-made for this kind of event with wide appeal to those interested in war, history, rhetoric, and the arts. It also has obvious relevance to contemporary issues. Even though it involved buying an additional book, several of my 111 students have chosen this text as the baseline text for their upcoming research projects.”
f. May 18, 2021: A “Gift Opportunities Submittal Annual Need” request for $15,000, presumably to the Air Force Academy Foundation . . . “CURRENT STATUS: Continuation of an existing need; previously funded through the Institute for Future Conflict.”
g. May 27, 2021, from the Supe: “My intent is that we enter fully into this and all narratives by under-represented groups, and develop a deepened understanding of what is at stake. . .. Our investment in reading this graphic novel together will support our mission to develop leaders for our Nation who understand our history, speak fluently to current events, and can think critically about shaping the direction of our shared future.”
h. June 1, 2021, from the Dean: “Our One Book, One USAFA choice for this upcoming year is a graphic novel memoir focusing on Takei’s experience as a young child forced to relocate to Japanese internment camps during WWII. The graphic novel is an important literary genre that merges, and alters, both literary and artistic influences. The memoir offers opportunities to discuss topics ranging from current events, Colorado history, and Space Force to war literature, military history, legal studies, and American Political and racial history. And of course, it also opens the door to conversations on diversity and inclusion…a focus area for all of USAFA.”
–here we have a left-wing over the top political book bought by some entity for cadets that upset at least hundreds of grads, parents, grandparents, and cadets–a book strongly supported by Academy leadership, despite it violating all three provisions of the AOG Articles of Incorporation and was so clearly supporting one political party and candidate over another–and no one can seem to answer a simple question–“who paid for the book?”
–Air Force Academy grads who donate at least $250 K, as I understand it, to belong to the Air Force Academy Foundation wouldn’t willingly want politics or any one ideology or the other be injected into the cadet wing–would they? If not, it seems like this is something we should “fix” so it doesn’t happen again?
–The AOG has a provision in its Articles of Incorporation that says: “The corporation at no time will be used in any way to support or oppose any political idea, organization, or candidate”. Anyone who has “read” Takei’s book as I have, would tell you the purchase of Takei’s book violates all three of those provisions, so I am glad the AOG didn’t pay for it. Note, I put “read” in quotation marks because–as you probably know it is just a cartoon book. Related story on that fact–I asked a Doolie if he had read the One Book, One USAFA selection that summer. His response? “Oh yes sir–it was so nice to come back to my room after a hard day of BCT, lay on my bunk and just look at pictures.” “Wow” I thought–“how can one better define/implement indoctrination?”
–Additionally, something that should bother everyone who knows our nation is a nation of laws–USAFA grossly violated the laws of our land in not responding to a FOIA request within the 20 day time limit (in extenuating circumstances–otherwise 10 days) (again as required by law.) And when they finally responded–over TWO YEARS after the FOIA was filed, 38 pages out of 48 pages (as I understand it), are redacted.
(Now this will bring criticism from some that STARRS is targeting the Academy and not concentrating on Washington–but Washington didn’t violate the law–USAFA did. If USAFA is being directed by Washington to break the law–please let us know and we will inform our Congressional contacts.) USAFA has absolutely no responsibility or reason to follow an order that requires breaking the law.
Do we really believe people we have asked over the last 3 years can’t answer the simple questions here?
STARRS has been a “voice” for cadets who think (or fear) they don’t have a voice–now we have been asking a simple question on behalf of numerous grads, parents, grandparents etc who want to know–how the process works and how a book with such extreme political overtones could possibly be purchased for cadets.
That is the issue–not the sometime not so nice exchange here. 3 YEARS of asking. 3 years of stonewalling. If people were forthright and honest, this exchange would take care of itself and be just fine.
Page from the cartoon book given in 2021 to all USAFA cadets to read — future military leaders and war fighters:
From our Boots on the Ground page:
On Fri 6 Aug 2021, following the incoming Class of 2025’s Acceptance Day parade, the USAF Academy Dean of Faculty, BGen Linell A. Lentendre, hosted a convocation for the new class, inviting parents, family and friends. Gen Lentendre’s comments endorsing George Takei’s 2019 book, They Called Us Enemy, were viewed by some observers present as inappropriate and misleading:
From a grandparent of a cadet from the USAFA Class of 2025, in attendance: “I wanted to get up and leave, but did not want to embarrass my cadet granddaughter. I hope someone recorded this, so we could get it out to all grads. Bottom line–our beloved Academy has bought into this “woke” [ideology] all the way to the top. They are liars when they claim otherwise. My wife and I both spent an hour complaining to one another about what these kids had to sit through.” –Name Withheld
From a parent of a basic cadet (Class of 2025), in attendance: “I am so very proud of all the cadets, fills my heart with joy and hope, then, to have the Dean [of the United States Air Force Academy] talk about Takei’s book. I asked my son if he read it and he said, “NO!” I cannot believe tax dollars went to purchase that book. The [USAF Academy Board of Visitors] needs to be reinstated. These young people need to be protected.” –Name Withheld
After attending the convocation, one USAFA graduate and sponsor asked her 2025 cadets if they had read it. Two of them had. One of them mentioned that the book made it sound like USAFA supports open borders since they endorsed the book so strongly. Another cadet was not a fan of the message being sent, that USAFA prefers to immediately focus on the darker parts of our history, and not on why we are a shining example of freedom to the world.
Keynote speaker for NCLS was George Takei, author of the book, They Called Us Enemy. His presentation was limited to the Cadet Wing. I talked with some attendees who attended the presentation. Feedback was that, overall, it was historical and not unreasonable. Ninety percent ok, but he went off the rails during the Q&A. Trashed President Trump, saying he hates Muslims. He said citizens who attend School Board meetings are uneducated. General comment was that he felt if you disagreed with him, you were uneducated. Personally, I am puzzled why this man was selected to open the NCLS in a restricted forum. All other presentations were open to all attendees.
STARRS requested the USAFA provide each cadet a copy of Lt Col Matt Lohmeier’s, USAFA ’06, book, Irresistible Revolution, Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military to provide a counterbalance to last summer’s One Book, One USAFA selection by George Takei, They called us Enemy–which is over-the-top partisan political and not an honest presentation of complex border issues, yet issued to every freshman cadet in Jun of 2020.
STARRS had even identified a donor willing to buy a copy of Matt’s book for each cadet. As a reminder, Matt is the former Space Force squadron commander that was fired for writing the book after it had been reviewed and cleared through appropriate channels per DoD regulations.
The superintendent refused because it was “too controversial.” Yet George Takei was given prominence at the premier National Character and Leadership Symposium as the opening speaker–made mandatory for all cadets and held at the only indoor facility that holds the entire cadet wing.
According to multiple cadets, Takei “went off the rails” in answering some questions–“totally inappropriate” political comments, untruths told about “Trump’s border cages” and “Trump’s Muslim Ban,” and a kindergarten-level understanding of complex border issues.
We have pressed USAFA to set the record straight and not leave a false impression on the minds of so many of our future leaders–all to no avail. Some have said–“integrity first”, the USAF first core value, is but another casualty of today’s ideologues.