A society that routinely—as a matter of policy—awards intellectually incompetent persons with officers’ commissions

If mainstream conservatives criticize the system of nonwhite racial preferences at all, they do it for the liberally correct reason that it harms its nonwhite beneficiaries (the “soft bigotry of low expectations”), not because it is grossly unjust to whites, not because it degrades all our standards and institutions, and not because it makes us a nation of Orwellian liars who must keep pretending that sub-competent blacks and Hispanics are really entirely competent. Thus the main thrust of the book Mismatch, favorably reviewed by those huge phonies Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom in the November 12 National Review, is that policies intended to aid black and Hispanic students “do more harm than good,” because they result in students’ being admitted to schools for which they are (here comes one of those euphemisms) “unprepared” and thus set them up for failure.

In a letter in the December 3 NR, a former history professor at the Naval Academy named John Cauthen, while approving the thesis of Mismatch, shows that the damage wreaked by racial preferences is far worse than any harm it may cause to its beneficiaries:

All service-academy graduates are commissioned officers in their respective services, and they will lead enlisted personnel, perhaps in combat. Unprepared and incompetent service-academy graduates should be a cause of concern for all Americans, especially parents entrusting their children to recently graduated officers empowered with substantial legal authority. I’ll never forget a midshipman I taught. The midshipman had a combined SAT score of 800: 450 math and 350 English. This individual struggled all semester and could not even cheat effectively: For an assignment on the French Revolution, this person simply Googled “French Revolution” and copied the text at the first link. I failed the student and documented the transgression. But the midshipman was retained.

A society that does things like this—and our society does them across the board—is massively corrupt and heading for a crash. But there can be no escape from the corruption, since it is the ineluctable product of two factors built into America: (1) that we are a white majority society with a significant minority of blacks; and (2) that we believe in equality as our highest principle. Once those two factors obtain, racial socialism must result. Therefore there are only two ways to avoid racial socialism, and both of them would require a radical departure from America as it has historically existed: (1) not to have a significant minority of blacks (or Hispanics); or (2) not to treat equality as our highest principle.

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Bruce B. writes:

My former boss was a captain in the U.S. Navy and told me that he once had a young commissioned officer who had recently received a physics degree from a historically black college. He could not teach the young man basic navigation. He finally gave up and assigned him to some useless duty.

Jim Kalb writes:

The U.S. armed forces are overwhelmingly more powerful than any foreign entity they’ve fought recently, and they’re at the mercy of politicians and have a symbolic character, so affirmative action can go to extremes without causing problems for careers. Quite the contrary: making diversity “the number one priority” at the Naval Academy (see this account) is undoubtedly one reason the Chief of Naval Operations holds the position he does.

LA writes:

By the way, I should make clear that undeserved promotions in the military are not limited to nonwhites and women. In keeping with the hypertrophy of privilege that characterizes contemporary America, the U.S. armed forces have become essentially a “perk factory,” greatly expanding the number of general officers and admirals so as to give more people promotions, along with the fantastic privileges, pay, and pensions that come with those positions. Thomas Ricks in his new book The Generals, which he discussed over the weekend on C-SPAN, discusses the way today’s military is directed at advancing and preserving high officers’ careers, rather than giving them high command—or removing them from high command—based on their demonstrated ability and success or lack thereof. An example that comes immediately to my mind is the way President Bush, after he finally removed the clueless and incompetent George Casey as ground commander in Iraq, rewarded him by making him Army Chief of Staff—the highest position in the Army. Contrast that with the fact, told by Ricks, that James Cheney (sp?), Eisenhower’s predecessor as Supreme Allied Commander, was, after he was removed from that position, put in charge of a stateside boot camp. Ricks says that the World War II-era military was totally unconcerned about protecting the careers of officers and was, to an extent unimaginable today, based on competence and performance.

At the same time, while Ricks speaks with quiet authority and certainly sounds as though he knows what he’s talking about, he is also a partisan liberal, so I would not simply accept what he’s saying as true without knowing more about it.

Kristor writes:

By “coincidence,” Bruce Charlton today has a post up about the very same subject: the lethal mix of incompetence and euphemistic dishonesty about it.

A female reader writes:

I also saw Thomas Ricks on C-Span and was impressed. But you are right about him. I listened to the Fox clip you posted in which he accuses Fox News of being an instrument of the Republican party for making a big deal about the Benhazi attack, and he’s a bastard. I’ve lost all respect for him. It may be terrible that security people died in Iraq, but security people are supposed to face danger. An ambassador is a different story.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 04, 2012 03:33 PM | Send

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