By Glenn H. Reynolds
Sometimes I look at the destructive things done in the name of DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion — and I wonder: If a foreign power had infiltrated us and was trying to weaken and destroy our institutions, what would it do differently?
The answer is “Not much.”
And now a large group of retired senior military officers — generals and admirals all — is raising the alarm on the pernicious influence of “woke” ideology in military DEI programs.
In an open letter addressed to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen, they warn the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion, and political correctness generally, is getting in the way of the military’s actual mission: to fight and win wars and, by being able to do so, deter adversaries from starting anything.
“For generations, our military was a meritocracy,” they write.
It was one of the most — possibly the most — diverse and inclusive institutions in America precisely because it recruited and promoted on merit to a greater degree than almost any other institution in America.
But, they caution, in the name of DEI, it’s moving its emphasis from merit to things like skin color and national origins, in a system where people are “labeled as ‘oppressed’ or ‘oppressors,’ and pitted against each other.”
The military’s record in recent years has been poor.
The disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal has buoyed our adversaries, encouraging Vladimir Putin to cause more trouble in Ukraine and making it more likely China, already rattling sabers, will cause more trouble with Taiwan.
Many officers — and even more damaging, senior noncommissioned officers like sergeants and chief petty officers — are choosing to retire.
And military recruitment has tanked, as potential recruits realize they might be abandoned, as Americans were in Afghanistan, or see their military careers ruined over using the wrong pronouns for someone.
It doesn’t help that brass treat the group that has traditionally been the backbone of the military’s combat arms, white males from the South and Midwest, as presumptively racist and deplorable.
As a recent Spectator World article asked: “Look at DEI and Afghanistan: is it any wonder our ranks are dwindling?”
Last fiscal year, the Army fell 25% short of its recruiting goals.
This is a Bud Light-level failure.
“I watched in horror as the images of the fall of my native Saigon repeated themselves in 2021 in Kabul. A few short months after my last combat deployment, the Afghans I worked with clung desperately to aircraft and pounded at the airport gates,” retired military officer and Vietnamese refugee Hung Cao writes.
“The worst image of all was when eleven Marines, one sailor and one soldier were killed by a suicide bomber outside Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport as the evacuation occurred. These servicemen and women were left out there to guard a patch of land their commander-in-chief had given up.”
He adds: “This administration has a growing obsession with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI, a college campus fad that teaches America is fundamentally racist and can only be fixed by discriminating against American males with European ancestry. DEI is unpopular in the military, a place where troops may be rightfully hesitant to serve under a commander selected for the color of his skin rather than the content of his character.”
Back in his anti-war days, former Sen. John Kerry asked who wants to be the last man to die for a mistake.
Today the question is: Who wants to be the first?
Many potential recruits are saying “Not me” and looking elsewhere.
It’s getting bad enough that some people are beginning to talk about a peacetime draft.
That’s one thing the government has that the Bud Light folks lack: If you don’t like what it’s selling, it can still make you buy it.
But how many people are willing to back a draft as the price for woke ideology in the government?
The rapid politicization of our military comes at a cost to morale, to recruiting and to its effectiveness.
Have we been infiltrated by our enemies?
Are Chinese or Russian moles pushing this ideology to weaken our institutions and resolve?
The sad thing is, probably not.
Our leadership is stupid enough to do this to us on its own.
Which means it’s time for new leadership.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the InstaPundit.com blog.
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