This week, Rep. Col. Allen West denounced a report by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which found that 77 percent of active-duty senior officers are white and 84 percent are male. Rep. Col. West didn't attack the report's findings, exactly. In fact, he didn't seem entirely certain what the report meant. No matter: He denounced it anyway.
This was in an interview with The Daily Caller, in which West called the report "a slap in the face" to minority officers. "Everyone that comes into the military has an equal opportunity to get promoted to the next level," he said. "It is not about outside entities trying to engineer and design results and outcomes and create a sense of equal achievement and when some military diversity group writes a report saying there are too many white men on top."
I think that when you look at these groups and other special interest that keep trying to chip away at the military, we are engaged with a very vicious enemy in two combat areas and who knows what's going to happen in North Africa and the Middle East and now is not the time for us to stop and start sensitivity training.
Sensitivity training? Outside entities? Does Allen West have any idea what he's talking about?
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The report in question was commissioned, paid for, and run by the military. Its creation was demanded by the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act. The group in charge of its research and composition was headed by a high-ranking enlisted man, Master Chief Petty Officer Steven Hady, late of the USS Kentucky, and by Col. James J. Campbell, who used to be the readiness chief for USPACOM. (That means he was responsible for making sure Pacific Command could go to war on a dime.) The staffers working beneath them were culled from both the military and the RAND Corp. -- the same nonprofit group that coached the United States through the cold war and invented the concept of "mutually assured destruction." Hardly an outfit of hippies.
The report demands no "sensitivity training," no quotas. And given what it does say -- that blacks comprise only 8 percent of the military leadership and Hispanics only 5 percent -- West's response makes no sense. If it's true that minorities are underrepresented among military leadership and if West is correct that "everyone that comes into the military has an equal opportunity to get promoted," then minorities are either less interested in promotions than whites or less qualified to receive them. I can't believe West thinks either thing.
More likely, West just thinks he's omniscient. Researchers may research and reports may be written, but Allen West doesn't care about that. He has a bad feeling about this report, and Allen West's feelings don't lie. He won't directly contradict the commission's numbers, oh no -- that would drag the conversation toward a kind of rhetorical specificity that he loathes. But he will open his mouth, for his eloquence has been complimented by thousands, and he will expect pure truth to emerge. It doesn't. What emerges is noise -- ill-considered, meaningless noise. For example: How is it a "slap in the face" to minority senior officers to suppose they faced greater challenges than those faced by their white peers?
Allen West won't say, because he doesn't know. The man just refuses to think before he speaks, and he makes a bet that we, his audience, won't think after we hear. I hope he's wrong.