In 1962, General Douglas MacArthur said to the Corps of Cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point: “Your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars. Everything else in your professional career is but corollary to this vital dedication.”
No longer is this the case. Sixty years later, the “very obsession” of America’s military service academies is not Duty, Honor, Country but Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — DEI.
The rot of educational priorities at US military academies begins at the top and extends far beyond those educational institutions.
In February and March of 2021, the Biden administration resumed DEI training efforts throughout government institutions, including those on “critical race theory and white privilege” subjects begun during the Obama administration, that had been curtailed to some extent by the Trump administration, which labeled such training as “un-American propaganda training sessions.”
On June 25, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order “advancing” DEI throughout the federal workforce, including in our armed services, to end “the enduring legacies of employment discrimination, systemic racism, and gender inequality.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in February 2022 praised the president for his “commit[ment]” to diversity and inclusion in our armed forces, and in September of that year Austin announced the formation of a Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, upheld West Point’s policy of teaching critical race theory during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.
Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, defended the recommendation of Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist — which equates capitalism with racism — to sailors.
In May 2021, the acting Navy secretary directed the Navy’s chief diversity officer to “develop an action plan to promote DEI in Department-wide policies, programs and operations.”
Barbara Barrett, then secretary of the Air Force, in June 2020 created a “Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.” This task force expanded to become the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in January 2021, which is dedicated to promoting a “diverse and highly inclusive environment” throughout the Air Force.
The Coast Guard, too, has institutionalized DEI training led by so-called “change agents” to “develop an organizational culture that values respect, diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The most lasting effect of the trend toward wokeness in our armed forces will be seen in the service academies, where future officers in all branches of the armed forces are being indoctrinated with DEI.
Fox News reports that the Air Force Academy’s diversity and inclusion training materials include instructions “to use words that ‘include all genders’ and to refrain from saying things like ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’” Diversity and inclusion, cadets are told, is “a warfighting imperative.”
Diversity and inclusion resources include a diversity and inclusion “reading room” and “affinity groups,” the latter of which the academy website claims aids cadets in “gather[ing] around a shared affinity or bond” and allows them to be “identity-based.” Training includes courses on “unconscious bias,” “cultural sensitivity,” and “inclusive leadership.”
Lieutenant General Richard Clark, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, told Fox News that the instructions to avoid using mom, dad, and the like were “taken out of context and misrepresented.” He asserted that diversity and inclusion training centered on “the warfighting imperative of leveraging diverse perspectives to solve our nation’s most difficult national security problems.”
I wonder what Billy Mitchell, father of the Air Force, or Curtis LeMay, the famous World War II general, would have said about that — but they are “dead white males”; nobody listens to them these days.
The Air Force Academy’s website includes a video presentation on “Pride Month,” including LGBTQ+ and pronoun normalization. The academy’s “Diversity & Inclusion Resource List” includes books on topics such as “Unconscious Bias” and “Race-Specific Learning.”
GOP senator Tom Cotton, a combat Army veteran himself, responded strongly to the news release; he wrote a letter to Clark in which he called the Air Force Academy’s diversity and inclusion training “divisive and un-American” and claimed that it teaches future airmen to have “contempt” for “our nation’s traditions and values.” Such training, Cotton wrote, has “no place in our military.”
Meanwhile, at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland — which produced the likes of Alfred Thayer Mahan, John A. Lejeune, Charles C. Krulak, Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz, William D. Leahy, Hyman G. Rickover, James Stockdale, and many other naval giants — the leadership has formulated a “Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan.”
The plan’s introduction promotes a “path to inclusion” for an “inviting, safe, and supportive campus” where “everyone feels they belong and have equitable opportunity for success regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background.”
Training at Annapolis will include “develop[ing] and maintain[ing] a comprehensive cultural awareness and bias literacy … framework”; “creat[ing] a metric that can measure and track belongingness”; providing students “with information and pamphlets with diversity and inclusion resources, programs, and initiatives”; and “promot[ing] membership in affinity groups.”
The curriculum will “prioritiz[e] the inclusion of marginalized scholarship and hidden histories within midshipmen education.”
There will also be a “confidential process for reporting bias incidents … to proactively identify areas for potential additional training” and “admissions specific cultural awareness and bias literacy training modules for everyone” in the admissions and recruiting process.
The Naval Academy, the plan states, should “intentionally promote diversity in service assignments,” develop and promote “proper reporting procedures for instances of discrimination,” and institute diversity and inclusion “summits” and “recognition awards.”
This plan was signed by the senior leadership of the Naval Academy.
Critics, including 2002 Naval Academy graduate and former naval officer J.A. Cauthen, have accused the Naval Academy’s leadership of being “[w]illing collaborators all too eager to appease their political masters.”
Cauthen describes parts of the strategic plan as similar to “bygone Soviet and Maoist slogans,” policies both “pernicious and punitive” that will “fundamentally transform the education and training of midshipmen by supplanting rigor, merit, and superior performance with a focus on phantom grievances.”
Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones’s immortal “I have not yet begun to fight” is giving way to reality star (and featured speaker at the Naval Academy in 2019) Alexis Jones’s much softer “the importance of mutual respect.”
Over at the Coast Guard Academy, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity supports six “diversity councils” to “Cultivate a Supportive and Inclusive Environment.” Cadets called “Diversity Peer Educators” provide “information and support on … race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity” subjects.
The academy previously had come under fire for its lack of “cultural competence” in a report by the National Academy of Public Administration, which recommended reforms, including formulating a “detailed DEI action plan with a long-term timeline”; “broadening [the] responsibilities of the chief diversity officer” by making that officer a “strategic advisor of the superintendent”; and “detailing and tracking metrics to measure progress and guide efforts to improve cultural competence.”
The less visible and less well-known US Merchant Marine Academy has also pledged to “establish a welcoming and diverse campus” and employs a “diversity recruiter.”
And then there is West Point, perhaps the most revered military academy in the nation — the institution that produced Generals Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, George H. Thomas, William T. Sherman, John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Henry “Hap” Arnold, George Patton, Matthew Ridgway, Creighton Abrams, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and so many other great military leaders.
West Point has fallen victim to Congress and the Pentagon’s “Naming Commission,” which resulted in the removal of all traces of Robert E. Lee from public view and will influence the renaming of roads, barracks, and other buildings named for Lee and other Confederate generals.
Wokeness, it seems, includes an Orwellian erasing of history.
West Point’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity (ODIEO) was established during the Obama administration and is “the focal point for West Point Diversity and Inclusion outreach initiatives, projects, and plans.”
ODIEO, according to West Point’s website, “identifies and advocates diversity and inclusion awareness opportunities and implements diversity training and education programs that develop socio-cultural competencies to meet the multicultural demands of the Army’s workforce.”
Cadets can minor in “Diversity and Inclusion Studies,” which includes courses titled “Social Inequality,” “Power and Difference,” and “The Politics of Race, Gender, and Sexuality.” West Point hosts “Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Conferences,” has “Diversity Clubs,” and presents a “Department of the Army Diversity & Leadership Award.”
Fox News reports that cadets are subjected to “pronoun play acting” sessions.
In 2021, former female West Point cadets criticized the academy for promoting a “woke ideology,” which included lectures on “White rage” and “extremism.” Students were tutored on “writing essays about critical race theory.”
The activist group Judicial Watch last year obtained more than six hundred documents from the Defense Department affirming that critical race theory is being taught at West Point.
But the education in critical race theory is having its intended effect.
In June 2020, nine recent West Point graduates, including two first captains, a Rhodes scholar, two Fulbright scholars, and two Marshall scholars, issued a forty-page policy proposal urging West Point’s leadership to institute policies to bring about an “anti-racist West Point.”
Cadets at the academy, the authors wrote, must be “help[ed]” to “unlearn racism.” They called for Maoist-like struggle sessions and reeducation efforts to create “anti-racist” warriors.
The proposal was “inspired,” the authors noted, by the so-called Black Manifesto of 1971, thus suggesting that nothing much has changed at West Point since then.
The former cadets praise the Black Lives Matter movement and describe West Point’s “legacy” as one of “systemic racism, harmful exclusion, and overt white supremacy.”
One former West Point graduate called this document “wholesale moral blackmail of the Academy, its graduates, and its present-day leadership.” And he issued this dire warning:
“Do not take comfort in the security which has hitherto been afforded to our nation by our armed forces. We have not been tested against a real enemy in many generations. When we are, leaders like this will not be able to stand in the field of battle.”
The far Left’s infiltration and capture of America’s educational institutions now includes the leadership of our armed services’ educational institutions.
This woke experiment with the academies that are supposed to produce our nation’s warriors — the leaders whom MacArthur described as “the great captains who hold the Nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds” — are instead propagating an ideology that, in Cauthen’s opinion, produces leaders unprepared “to wage and win wars against our enemies,” and that GOP senator (and former Air Force officer) Roger Wicker maintains “will harm our military’s ability to perform its mission.”
As the Heritage Foundation’s Thomas Spoehr noted last September, the very leaders we have elected are spreading an epidemic of woke ideology throughout our military, fundamentally changing the “purpose, character, traditions, and requirements” of the institution that protects our country.
Douglas MacArthur, speaking to the cadets at West Point half a century ago, observed that “the Long Gray Line has never failed us,” promising that, if ever it did, “a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country.”
MacArthur would be astonished to learn that, in the third decade of the twenty-first century, we have met the enemy — and it is us.
Image: Bill Wilson/The American Spectator