Commentary Magazine

Diversity: An Ideology

Most reasonable people have now recognized that Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s actions in the Fort Hood massacre were not caused by pre-post-traumatic stress, by bullying, or by mental troubles, but were in accordance with his religious beliefs. Yet too many commentators resorted to the inadequate terms of political correctness to try and explain the event. What gives PC its pervasiveness, persistence, and power to influence behavior?

The influence of politically correct ideology was demonstrated by the senior Army General and Army Chief of Staff George Casey, when he stated that "as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse." He then ordered his commanders to be alert for anti-Muslim actions in their troops, as did the secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. This attitude is larger than this event, and so deserves a comprehensive investigation.

It is well known that political correctness has pervaded the academic world, as documented in literature and demonstrated by well-publicized speech codes, harassment policies, and postmodern curricula. What is not well known is that the same attitude also permeates the military, the FBI, and the CIA.

For the U.S. Army in 1994, President Bill Clinton instituted the Gender Integration of Basic Training program to improve the morale and retention of female recruits. Despite this, complaints continued about female soldiers being victims — for example, in 1996, during the training at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. So an independent commission, the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender Training, was set up to determine the cause of this "discrimination." It presented its conclusions to Congress on December 16, 1997, and found that co-ed basic training resulted in "less discipline, less unit cohesion, and more distraction from training programs." The committee’s recommendations included separating the genders in housing and basic training, much like what the Marines had been doing.

However, a year later, in hearings before Congress, these recommendations were rejected by both military leaders and Congress as "sexist" and as impediments to women joining the military. Brigadier General Evelyn Foote testified that "women don’t need separate training or separate barracks. They are wise to be wary of change that could constrain careers." Others proclaimed that the military had a systemic bias against women, which encouraged abuse. Senator Olympia Snowe of the Senate Armed Services Committee stated that "women … do not feel that they are going to have their charges taken seriously." The end result was to strengthen and institutionalize the quotas for the promotion of selected groups, along with guidelines on how to portray these groups (until Royce Lambert, a Washington D.C. judge, declared the quotas unconstitutional in March 2002). As for the military academies, Bruce Fleming, a tenured English professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, in a 2005 article in the Naval Institute Proceedings, found that 21 percent of the 2001 and 2002 classes were admitted on a "minority" basis, had SAT scores 200 to 300 points below the Academy’s average, and were evaluated "on a separate track" from non-minority students.

A similar culture developed at the FBI. In 1993, Louis Freeh was appointed director, and in October of that year he reorganized the agency along the lines described above for the military. He appointed an African American, a woman, and a Hispanic to three top posts within the agency, and announced their appointment as a "momentous day" for the bureau. This also marked the politicization of the FBI and, as we shall see, the crippling of its intelligence-gathering capability. The new focus included redirecting counterintelligence efforts to anti-abortion violence and making promotions on the basis of loyalty to "affirmative action" rather than on operational accomplishment. Louis Freeh, at his retirement from the FBI in June 2001, cited "diversifying the agent force" as his greatest accomplishment. He increased the number of African American, women, and "sexually diverse" agents, as well as the size of the accompanying bureaucracy. In June and July 2004, the fruit of these changes were realized, when a female agent "married" another woman under Massachusetts’s new law on marriage, and then applied to the FBI for health benefits for her new "wife."

The poor intelligence performance that inevitably resulted from these policies came to light in an FBI report in 2002, and was reviewed by the House Judiciary Committee. Committee member William Delahunt of Massachusetts remarked that "the level of incompetence here is egregious." From outside the government, Charles Hill, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, in a 2004 editorial at the Wall Street Journal stated that the "main cause of inadequate intelligence performance over the past three decades has been a decline in the quality of personnel, brought about by pressures for diversity."

This culture continued after the retirement of Director Freeh. The new director, Robert Mueller, when asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2002 about warning signs for the September 11 attack, responded: "I think I’ve seen indications of concern about taking certain action, because that action may be perceived as profiling." However, he reassured the committee that "the Bureau is against, has been and will be against any form of profiling." The results of this policy of "diversity" and avoidance of "profiling" soon became evident in the work of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the "9/11 Commission") during their April-June Congressional hearings. In 1995 the deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, issued a directive that significantly expanded the legal isolation of intelligence cases from criminal cases (the "wall") in order to prevent race, gender, and ethnicity from being used in national-security investigations. On April 13, 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft, appearing before the 9/11 Commission, testified that the "single greatest structural cause for September 11th was the wall" in the Justice Department that prevented those working on criminal investigations from communicating freely with intelligence agents, and that this policy "embraced flawed legal reasoning." Attorney General Ashcroft backed this up with specifics on the cases of Zaccarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar, and Nawaf al-Hazami — the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. The "wall" prevented investigations that would have revealed the names and intent of these participants ahead of time.

Another member of the 9/11 Commission, John Lehman, summarized that the Department of Transportation’s fear of "racial profiling" regarding airport security led to a policy that subjected an airline to hefty fines if they detained more than two Middle Eastern–looking passengers at any one time for a secondary security check. Finally, the 9/11 Commission report issued to the Congress and the president on July 22, 2004, concluded that "al Qaeda … considered the environment in the United States so hospitable that the 9/11 operatives used America as their staging area for further training and exercises — traveling into, out of, and around the country, and complacently using their real names with little fear of capture.”

Even after the extensive national and congressional publicity and hearings described above, the diversity and privileging culture continued at the FBI. For example the FBI’s Washington field office during 2004 participated in a new initiative with Northeastern University School of Law in Boston entitled "Promising Practices Guide." Under the section "Establishing Partnerships Global Perspectives," they outlined their response to 9/11: "The most dangerous threats in this war are rooted in the successful propagation of anger and fear directed at unfamiliar cultures and people. The only way to ultimately counter this type of threat is to address the anger and fear through the presentation and demonstration of alternative paradigms." These paradigms continue today.

A similar culture took hold of the CIA. John Deutch was appointed CIA director in 1995 and immediately began to institute changes to the Operations Directorate in accordance with President Clinton’s diversity policies. In 1997, George Tenet succeeded Deutch and expanded that cultural change. In the late 1990s, Director Tenet sent out a letter to the personnel of the CIA entitled "Intelligence Community Functional Diversity Strategic Plan" in which he stated, "We are going to have to become a much more diverse intelligence community. … We … must see Diversity as a corporate imperative — a strategic goal. … Our Community will need to attract, train, and retain talented employees who have a deep understanding of other societies, cultures and languages. I consider the advancement of Diversity to be a vital part of our Strategic Plan for the intelligence Community" [emphasis in the original].

As a result of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. intelligence service was reorganized, and Mr. Michael McConnell became director of the Office of National Intelligence. In 2007 he set in place a "500-day Master Plan" that established a "core initiative … to treat diversity as a strategic mission imperative." This "master plan" proclaimed, "We need to have an IC [intelligence community] workforce that looks like America." To ensure results, the plan had a "mechanism to hold IC leaders accountable for excellence in EEO [equal employment opportunity] and diversity management." This was a reaffirmation of Director Tenant’s "Diversity Strategic Plan" of 10 years earlier. The intervening intelligence failures were not considered, owing to the pervasive nature of the ideology at work.

An eminent historian, Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington, understood clearly the profound and widespread nature of this condition. In his 2004 book, Who Are We, he stated it directly: "These efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they govern were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history. Substantial elements of America’s elites in academia, the media, business, and the professions joined government elites in these efforts [as] … the deconstructionist coalition." Yet, as General Casey reminded us after the Fort Hood massacres, diversity is worth the risk to soldiers’ lives.

When a coherent pattern of ideas persists for decades across a wide spectrum of society and informs behavior and action, we are by definition dealing with an ideology. The assertion of hierarchies, privilege, and oppression — redeemed by social justice — is intuitively accepted by what Samuel Huntington termed the elites, much like that "climate of opinion that quietly surrounds all our habits of growth" described by W.H. Auden in relation to Freudian psychoanalysis. The postmodern labels and deconstruction may change, but the self-evident demand for "diversity" remains.

The politically correct ideology that made possible the Fort Hood massacre officially began with President Johnson’s "equality of results" speech in 1965. It has been reinforced by every president since. The concept has spread across education, much of government, parts of the legal system, corporate America, the old media, and has remained unaffected and unaltered by such events as the 9/11 attacks. This pernicious ideology can only be changed if it is identified and treated as such.


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