Grab your ankles, the Secretary of the Air Force is talking about diversity again. Deborah Lee James, a career bureaucrat who has never worn the uniform of any service, announced last week that she aims to remedy the supposed problem of too many white men in positions of authority.
“America is a diverse population, and we don’t want to shut down pieces of the population from which we can recruit,” said James. “We want the best we can possibly get from all sectors.” Oh yeah? Well why not just hire the best person for the job and let the chips land where they may? She doesn’t say.
This most recent policy comes about a year and a half after Secretary James announced another equally discriminatory “diversity” initiative. In March of 2015, she unveiled her nine step plan to diversify the Air Force, particularly its most glamorous career fields such as pilots and air battle managers. One of her nine points was to reduce height standards for pilots, thus making it easier for women to qualify—as if height standards were arbitrary obstacles dreamed up by sexist men to preserve their boys’ club.
A year and a half has passed and Secretary James is not satisfied with the “progress” made thus far so more drastic measures will be imposed. The new policy is patterned after the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, which says that whenever football teams must interview at least one minority candidate when hiring new coaches. The new Air Force initiative requires the consideration of at least one “diverse candidate” (i.e. not a white guy, unless the white guy is prior enlisted) whenever commanders select an aide-de-camp or executive officer. Of course, that one “diverse candidate” has to be “qualified”—a term that is highly malleable whenever race or sex is of paramount importance.
It’s no wonder that the blurb on the cover of the Air Force Times cover blared: “Minorities, Women, Now Have Edge in Key Positions.” Yes, they do. In years past affirmative action proponents framed the issue in terms of “leveling the playing field” but these days it’s all out in the open—minorities and women have an “edge,” which is another way of saying that they’re favored. It is literally impossible for favored groups to exist without the existence of corresponding disfavored groups. Don’t be fooled—this policy has real victims with names and faces.
But the Rooney Rule alone isn’t discrimination, is it? After all, no one is saying that the “diverse candidate” has to get the job. Well…not exactly. While it may be true that the “diverse candidate” isn’t guaranteed to get the job, commanders will now have to explain their decision to a board which will consist of a certain proportion of women and minorities. Commanders who care about their careers will take the hint from on high—things like performance are no longer considered to be as important as race and sex. Commanders are not under any explicit mandate to select the “diverse candidate” but there is pressure to discriminate against white men in order to meet “goals”—or what used to be called quotas.
No one dares use the “Q” word anymore, at least not since the landmark 1978 court case of California v. Bakke. The aggrieved party in that case was Allan Bakke, a very bright engineer who decided in his thirties to switch careers to medicine. Bakke found that he could not gain admission to the University of California med school despite being demonstrably more qualified than many of the minority students who were admitted. He argued that he had been left out in the cold because the school had reserved 16 seats for minority applicants out of a class of 100. Minorities, of course, could compete for all of the seats but Bakke was only eligible for 84 of them.
Bakke took his case all the way to the Supreme Court where he won a stunning victory for himself that unfortunately left most of the discriminatory legacy of affirmative action intact. The court found that the University of California had illegally discriminated against Bakke though only because it had used a quota system. It found racial preferences (or what used to be called racial discrimination) to be constitutionally defensible when race was only considered as a factor. Blatant set-asides were struck down as unconstitutional.
The distinction is a pretty silly one, if you ask me, the classic example of the Supreme Court slicing the sausage too thin. The court decided, in essence, that women and minorities can be afforded a few bonus points but that the game cannot be further rigged to produce a particular outcome once those points have been distributed. It’s a very scammable system. A university could very easily cling to an illegal quota while leaving the policy tactfully unstated. Let’s use the 16% quota from the Bakke case as an example. In order to achieve this percentage universities must only guesstimate an academic handicap for minority students that will achieve the desired outcome and then monitor admissions statistics closely. Ever wonder why colleges compile so many demographic stats that they claim don’t affect their admissions process? Now you know. If minorities still don’t comprise 16% of incoming students, universities must only afford them a bigger academic handicap the next year. After a few years of repeating this charade the proper handicap will be precisely pinpointed. Et voila—the 16% quota is met without actually having a quota policy.
The same process is clearly at work in the Air Force. Secretary James’s 2015 “diversity” initiative failed to reach some critical mass of women and minorities in key positions so she resorted to more drastic measures in her 2016 initiative. If she’s allowed to stay on into the next Clinton Administration she will surely continue to tighten the screws until she gets the numbers she wants. As long as she has any number in mind—the “right” proportion of women and minorities who should be in key positions—that’s a quota and it’s illegal.
Secretary James’s lickspittle Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein, is completely on board with the policy. If you listen closely, you can hear him speak openly of quotas: “Having a diverse group of leaders, having a diverse group of airmen that are representative of the nation, that can come together and bring those diverse backgrounds and [ways of] thinking, to provide creative solutions to some of these complex challenges is as much a war-fighting imperative as it is about improving our Air Force.” (Emphasis added).
When the general speaks of creating a force that is “representative of the nation,” he is clearly implying that the program’s goal is to adjust the demographics of the Air Force to match the demographics of the country as a whole—or at least in regard to sensitive categories such as race and sex. In other words, the Air Force should be 51% female and 13% black because the general population is. Not only that, but these proportions should remain constant across all ranks and throughout all career fields—lower enlisted through general officers, cooks, mechanics, pilots and navigators. Again, that’s a quota. Quotas are discriminatory even by the Supreme Court’s screwy logic—and they’re illegal.
General Goldfein’s comment about having airmen that are “representative of the nation” is boilerplate diversity-speak that echoes a thousand public officials before him. State colleges and universities claim that they want to “look like” the states they serve, mayors and police chiefs often say that they want police departments that “look like” the cities they patrol. What they mean is that demographics should be forcibly adjusted to achieve a certain mix, which is a quota.
It’s possible that some discriminatory, quota-mongering bigots don’t realize that they’re discriminatory, quota-mongering bigots. They just think they’re good people who want to make everything fair. They would never use—gasp!—quotas. But alas, they do. Quotas never lapsed into disuse, not even after the Bakke decision which changed nothing except maybe the way people employ language. People learned to speak of “goals” rather than quotas, to talk about reforming institutions to “look like” the general population, and to stress the importance of achieving demographics that are “representative” of the community. These are all coded language, red flags that illegal discrimination is being employed. Watch out for phrases like these and call them out when you hear them.