- The Washington Times - Friday, July 30, 2010

The Navy wants to judge sailors by the color of their skin, not the content of their seamanship.

The latest national security leak is a shocking e-mail from a Navy admiral on “Diversity Accountability.” The message, sent to a list of other flag officers, notes that “a change in focus of this year’s diversity brief is the desire to identify our key performers (by name) and provide insight on each of them.” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, who apparently originated this order, “is interested in who are the diverse officers with high potential and what is the plan for their career progression. He may ask what is being done within to ensure they are considered for key follow on billets within the Navy.”

The message specifies, “This list must be held very closely but will provide ready reference to ensure we are carefully monitoring and supporting the careers of the best and the brightest the Navy has to offer.” That is, the best and the brightest provided a sailor is one of the euphemistically “diverse.” If you are a white male, it might be time to set sail and seek opportunities elsewhere.

In practice, the Navy will be creating a list of privileged “diverse” officers who will enjoy special benefits and career mentoring not available to people of the wrong race, as well as a virtual guarantee of fast-track access to the highest reaches of command. Fifty-six years after the Supreme Court struck down the concept of “separate but equal” treatment of races, the U.S. Navy is erecting a wall of segregation between what will amount to two parallel promotion systems: one for the “diverse” and another for the monotone. If this isn’t illegal, it should be.

How this dual-track system will be implemented is difficult to discern. Will officers doing fitness reports on those on the list be made aware of their subordinates’ privileged status? Will the people on the list have knowledge that the system is looking out for them? If they get a poor fitness report, will they have special means of getting a second look? Will there be repercussions for reviewing officers who did not know they were supposed to just keep the list members on the fast track no matter what? The devil will be lurking in these details.

This type of backward, 20th-century, overtly racial thinking has no place in 21st-century post-racial America. The Navy leadership apparently believes the way to promote racial harmony is by engaging in blatant, invidious discrimination. In practice, however, this system will, in fact, relegate “diverse” sailors to a form of second-class status. Any nonwhite male sailor who - through intelligence, initiative and drive - builds a stellar career will simply be seen as just another special case, just one of “the Listers.” Those sailors may achieve rank, but they will have to work twice as hard to command respect.

In the contemporary naval bureaucracy, this type of politically correct nonsense has run out of control like a loose cannon on deck. The Naval Academy lists racial diversity as the “highest personnel priority,” apparently even over the mission of educating future Navy leaders for warfare on the high seas. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made achieving diversity a “strategic imperative” when he was chief of naval operations. Call us old-fashioned seadogs, but we’d prefer that the Navy’s top priority be fighting and winning our nation’s wars rather than engaging in social experimentation.

The suggested list of privileged officers is due Monday. The message states that the reporting requirement will not be put into the secretary of the Navy’s TV4 Taskers tracking system “due to the sensitive nature of the by name list.” No doubt, once the secret list leaks, as it surely will, there will be as much discomfort for the people on the list as for those not on it, especially those unfortunates who met the diversity requirement but for some reason did not make the cut. Maybe they can sue, charging discrimination. Either way, the Navy Department has run aground.