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Diversity That's Only Skin Deep

Two relatively recent incidents have demonstrated that our push, as a society, to "embrace diversity" has had a rather detrimental effect on our military. And both are cases of WHAT an individual officer is trumps WHO they are.

In the Navy, Captain Holly A. Graf was seen as a star. Her father is an admiral, her older sister a very successful captain herself, Captain Graf was in the middle of her second major surface combatant command (the cruiser Cowpens; she had previously commanded the destroyer Winston S. Churchill) when she was abruptly relieved of her command for "cruelty and maltreatment" of her crew. And once the news broke about this officer -- who had been on the fast track for flag rank -- former crew members of hers flooded the internets with tales of her tyrannies and abuses.

It's clear from reading them -- even if you dismiss the majority of them as BS -- that this woman was a problem for a long time, in a lot of places, to a lot of people, but she was consistently covered for, passed on, pushed forward, and in general allowed to be a far worse officer than should have been tolerated.

Family connections may have played a role. As noted, her father is a well-respected admiral, and her older sister is also highly regarded.

But there's the suspicion -- a downright belief -- in many quarters that Captain Graf was given considerably leeway because enough of "the brass" wanted a woman to succeed, and didn't want to be the one to end a woman's career.

And so for years numerous sailors were abused, mistreated, assaulted, and careers damaged or ended because no one wanted to step in and rein in Captain Graf -- who must have connected seen her tyrannical ways and steady promotions as connected.

And in the army, there's the more extreme case of Major Nidal Hassan, the Army psychologist who had an attack of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome and murdered 13 fellow soldiers. Hassan's tendencies towards Islamic extremism was well documented, but -- again -- it appears that no one wanted to be the one who blew the whistle on a Muslim officer and instead, passed him along and promoted him -- until he finally snapped. Unlike Captain Graf, we can point to a precise number of troops who suffered from that decision -- the thirteen he killed, and the 32 he wounded.

Again, in both cases, the officers in question had given many, many signs that they were unfit for the responsibilities with which they were entrusted. Many superior officers had had misgivings about their performance, but stayed their hand out of concern over "bigger" issues. And in both cases, an aspect of their identity (a woman and a Muslim respectively) trumped very real concerns about their performance -- concerns that ended up costing our military dearly.

Neither case says anything about the classes to which these two disgraces to their uniforms belonged. Captain Graf was a bad officer; other women (notably her older sister, among others) are performing their jobs superbly. There are also many Muslims serving honorably in all the branches of the armed services.

But those statuses must take a back seat to the considering the individual in question. They must stand -- or fail -- on their own strengths and weaknesses.

That was not done in the cases of either Captain Graf or Major Hassan. And a lot of innocent people paid the price.


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Comments (28)

Two items, Jay Tea:<p... (Below threshold)
James H:

Two items, Jay Tea:

First, Nidal Hassan may be a bad precedent for your thesis. There's a great deal of evidence that Hasan was promoted and retained not because of his ethnicity, but because the Army has an overall shortage of mental-health professionals.

Second, I have to disagree with your overall thesis. I don't think diversity is bad on its own. What, exactly, is wrong with allowing women and people of diverse races into the military as long as these individuals can execute their duties?

While you can no doubt build a case that it is wrong to promote a woman or a member of a minority race solely to fill out boxes on an affirmative-action form, I would argue in return that these individuals would not have the opportunity to serve if there had not been an initial commitment to diversity.

I think you mean to write <... (Below threshold)

I think you mean to write who must have seen her tyrannical ways and steady promotions as connected.

Not that it alters your reasoning or conclusions, but it is worth noting that muslims with arabic language and culture knowledge have very valuable skill sets by virtue of their background. The same is not true of gender categories.

In the early 90s I had a BN... (Below threshold)
retired military:

In the early 90s I had a BN CDR (LTC) which made CPT Graf look like a kitten (based on the description of her actions in the article).

I have never seen a male LTC get away with calling a female major a ballless wonder or someone who chewed out (using invectives that would make CPT Graf blush) CPTs and Majors in front of privates because they didnt know the status of the work orders on the toilets in their building.

Want to sign paperwork for buying a house? That is one day leave thank you very much.

Company CDRs and 1SGs were not authorized to give personnel a day off.

These are just a few things that he did regularly.

Even after being moved out of command (he was never officially relieved) and undergoing a 15-6 from the post Commander he was still promoted to COL.

James H,If the commi... (Below threshold)

James H,
If the commitment only goes as far as the superficial (color and genitalia) then there isn't really much value to that diversity.
Women and minorities in the various branches have been a fact of life for decades now. People need to get out of their heads the notion that diversity trumps standards of behavior, quality of work or ability to perform.

Correction made, Webster. t... (Below threshold)

Correction made, Webster. thanks. I plead distraction at that point of the writing.


I respectfully disagree her... (Below threshold)

I respectfully disagree here. Bad male officers as well as mediocre ones have been getting away (and still get away) with behavior like this for years. I just got finished working with one O-4 who ran his command into the ground and he was a straight male mustang. When he retired he still had many fans who thought he was an impressive leader but they never had to work under him and the culture is you don't complain. If this story tells us anything it is that we've finally reached the point where a woman can be as bad as a man and do just as well.

As for the Major the real problem seems to be we don't have enough qualified people to fill the billets so people keep on being pushed up but not out.

Success in any walk of life... (Below threshold)

Success in any walk of life SHOULD be based on their merits: ability, character, intelligence, etc. (see Dr. Martin Luther King)

In the military this is more than doubly true. Lives are at stake...ultimately OUR lives.

Diversity SHOULD mean that all are welcome and encouraged to succeed on the basis of their MERITS! Then REAL "Diversity" is achieved.

But in the two cases cited a combination of "Faux Diversity" and Political Correctness led to horrendous, and in Hassan's case tragic, results.

There are two ways to get r... (Below threshold)

There are two ways to get rid of a bad employee.
One involves a lot of paper work and documenting instances of infractions. The other only requires one person write a glowing recommendation and a promotion/transfer making the bad apple someone else's problem.

I have to side with James H... (Below threshold)

I have to side with James H on this one, although most of the above comments kinda take the same position in one way or the other.

Two hideous bad examples don't necessarily invalidate the general idea that women and muslims should be given the same chance to command as anyone else. There was a time when blacks were considered incapable of more than mess duty. The Tuskegee pilots during WWII put the lie to that, and a lot of white bomber crews survived the war because of it.

That said, once an officer proves they aren't fit for command, they shouldn't be shuffled from command to command to protect some sort of bullshit quota or to allow incompetence to be ignored. A bad officer is a bad officer, regardless of lefty notions of social justice. There's too much of that kind of thinking these days.

I think James H got it pretty much right, as he usually does.

Admiral's Progeny counted m... (Below threshold)

Admiral's Progeny counted more than gender in her advancement, and sadly, gender made it easier for someone to finally can her. Gender certainly has everything to do with why its newsworthy.

As I've stated before, Major Hasan's retention and promotion within the Medical Corps (MC) has more to do with two problems: lack of personnel (the military is direly in need of mental health professionals); and a mentality within command that not only tolerates but encourages hiding or PCS'ing your problem children rather than dealing with them.

The latter is generated by the same concern that led to the Captain's advancement despite her shortcomings: "shit, I screw with MY career if I do my duty here. My career comes first!" In the Navy example, its don't screw with the Admiral's kids, in the Medical Corps, its don't throw somebody out unless they're a corpse or have caused more than a few corpses.

RC nails it as it is much e... (Below threshold)

RC nails it as it is much easier to remove a problem by promoting it.

It's kinda like tossing a dog turn over the fence so you neighbor gets to deal with it.

turn = turd... (Below threshold)

turn = turd

James H. "What, exactly, is... (Below threshold)

James H. "What, exactly, is wrong with allowing women and people of diverse races into the military as long as these individuals can execute their duties?" Bad premise, JH. Nobody said that their was anything wrong with allowing women and diverse races into the military (or college or fire departments or anywhere else.) The problem is when they are put into these positions BECAUSE they are women and people of diverse races. And once that's done, getting rid of those who don't measure up becomes next to impossible, because then it's - you know, sexism and racism and stuff. And that's exactly where 'diversity' has taken us.

and of course, in my previo... (Below threshold)

and of course, in my previous comment, it should read "nobody said that THERE was anything wrong........" Not 'their.' Sheesh

I would argue with you slig... (Below threshold)
James H:

I would argue with you slightly, Wright. I would say that a desire for diversity was part of the initial impetus ("decades ago," as another commenter put it) to bring in minorities. Our modern notions of nondiscrimination and equality wouldn't have been sufficient two generations ago. And the "firsts" of anything are generally there specifically because of their race, color, creed, or what have you.

Incidentally, I find John's comment above intriguing -- that we have reached a situation where equally incompetent people across all races are promoted and/or not dismissed because of what amounts to office politics.

You got the relatives backw... (Below threshold)

You got the relatives backwards, her sister Robin Graf is a rear admiral, her father is a captain.

But JH, what happened 'deca... (Below threshold)

But JH, what happened 'decades ago'- which was justified (and justifiable) at the time as a means to prime the pump, so to speak, continues today. Two generations ago we faced and dealt with the evil of racial (and gender) discrimination. It has been dang near a half-century, and the priming shows no signs of slowing down. At some point we have to say - "You are an individual in your own right, and you stand or fall as a result of your own efforts." In my own(humble)opinion, we have reached and long since passed that point. Those who are dependent on the diversity industry for their riches of course strongly disagree.

Jay, Your problem is naivet... (Below threshold)
Ohio Granny:

Jay, Your problem is naivety. Honestly, every one, every.one, every single one, is promoted for some dumb reason or another that has nothing to do with the job. Oh yeah, razzle dazzle job performance might get into the mix, but if you are 1)family, 2)same color, 3)same nationality, 4)same religion, 5)same same same any thing, from being tall to being freckled to belonging to the same dog club. It all matters.
So this woman was abusive? Like most of the penis swinging brass aren't abusive? The fact is that very few people get to be lords over other people and not somehow take advantage of it in some way, big or small.
You are saying that diversity is a problem. Diversity is code for quotas, or "equal opportunity" where some are more equal than others, or the new affirmative action.
But this isn't anything new. Germans chose blonds and blue eyed people over others. Death to Armenians in Turkey. The pendulum swings from more white males to less white males and this woman had the tracks greased for her that lead her to believe she was invincible and that there were no consequences. This is not even news, let alone something you want to splash all over the internet. As soon as Katy Couric tells us that the woman hirings are passe, and oh so last year, and we are on to the "new" favored group/flavor of the year, I'll believe it.

I agree that one or two exa... (Below threshold)

I agree that one or two examples may make raise some question but is not solid proof. Also that there are some males are promoted that shouldn't. However in my experience I have never seen a white male get promoted, etc because of fear the PC police will come knocking. I also never seen standards lower for one either. I can't say the same about PC groups.

A sad thing is that many of them that are pretty good are assume to have gained their position because of affirmative action. Unless someone works with them on daily bases, you can never be sure.I assume everyone is qualified until proven otherwise but others do not.

Side note. Society in general will never judge the sexes with the same standard. A woman lifts 200 lbs once and she is a powerhouse. A guy lifts it 10 times and it is so what. Personally I would think it would be pretty good compare to other woman but not impressive overall.

Ain't the first time in the... (Below threshold)

Ain't the first time in the military that someone was pushed up the ladder, regardless of their 'abilities'. Won't be the last. Unfortunately, it's the troops that suffer.

Please do not forget Abu Gh... (Below threshold)

Please do not forget Abu Ghrabe.
The indignities of that sordid tale can be laid at the feet of a female National Guard Colonel, who was not fit for command. She had been promoted on the basis of the political necessity of turning the military into a career track for women.
Being incapable of enforcing military discipline on those in her command, it is no surprise that they did things which were not acceptable.
But were the politically correct elected officials faulted for her promotions, and for overlooking her suitability for command?
I do not think so.
Without military discipline (without favoritism), carried out in strict accord with military custom, we do not have armies. We have mobs.

Anybody my age has had expe... (Below threshold)

Anybody my age has had experience with someone who got a job or got promoted for reasons other than professional competence. Hell, now that I think about it there's one in the White House right now. At least in the military somebody like Capt.Graf who got a legacy admission to the Navy can be removed from command. God help us if she was a schoolteacher.

"Hell, now that I think abo... (Below threshold)

"Hell, now that I think about it there's one in the White House right now."

Yeah, used to be that businesses and organizations were the only ones to suffer with 'affirmative action' appointments. Now the whole country gets to experience it up close and personal with our 'affirmative action' president. He does show, however, that you can get anywhere with a glib tongue, no talent and 'white guilt'.

Well they are certainly not... (Below threshold)

Well they are certainly not a diverse lot at the White House. If You cheat on taxes You climb right up the ladder at breakneck speed.

Thats it.. Oh, one also has to subscribe to the Wons Trotsky unicorn vision as well.

Hence the reason why openly... (Below threshold)

Hence the reason why openly gay cannot be allowed in the military. Already blacks abuse their protected status in order to prevent themselves from being punished for misdeeds. Islamic Extremists are protected. Women are protected. Adding one more protected class that would be allowed to damage the unit cohesion of the military is not a good idea.

I have first hand experience with blacks who abuse the racist charge against whites when confronted with their misdeeds. You have women and Islamic Extremists covered here.

What kinds of disruptive behavior would gays be allowed to inflict upon their units when they become a protected class? Rapes? Groping? Innuendo about others in the unit they have been having sex with? Charges of homophobia? The list can go on and on. Until Political correctness is stamped out, adding openly gay to the military ranks risks creating another protected class that can cause a very destabilizing effect on our unit readiness and effectiveness.

Don't think you are being f... (Below threshold)

Don't think you are being fair to POTUS here. You don't have to like him but he beat out a tough field on merit and hard work and his big wins were in states where the only black people were on the college football team. Ran the best Presidential campaign in history. He's hardly an argument for affirmative action. He's also not that liberal. Ask one.
John McCain on the other hand was a pretty good example of how a nice ring and connections could make a career for a white guy with issues. He would have been cut loose pretty early if he weren't an Academy grad and the son and grandson of admirals. If it weren't for wife #2 and her money he would not be where he is today either. That's "protected" status. Plenty of women and minority people do an exceptional job and if you think they have it easy maybe you should trade places. Best BM1, BM2 and O-5 I worked with were women and in the case of the BM2 she opted to leave after two consecutive white male COs made her life miserable. She put one of them in jail for attempted rape of another shipmate but the end result is America lost the service of a hell of a woman. Graf wasn't the only person relieved of command for being a jerk the past few months. Just the only woman. She has more in common with McCain than she does with most of the hard working women in the services.

I'm amused that someone wit... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

I'm amused that someone with a 3D name reduced herself to a two-dimensional caricature of a Captain.

"merit"? "hard work"? Whe... (Below threshold)

"merit"? "hard work"? When I was in the military, use of hallucinogenics was illegal.






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