Large corporations these days promote all sorts of special privileges for minorities, while pretentiously flaunting “equality” as their driving motive. If only we could achieve equality, they say, oppression, injustice, and racial discord would disappear. The U.S. Department of Defense, the largest corporate employer in the world, is no exception to this rule: it takes great pride in championing any cause that might advance the station of racial minorities, oppressed women, or sexual decadents. I can attest to this because, as an Air Force officer, I get a steady stream of “we can’t do our jobs without diversity, equality, and inclusion” rammed down my throat. To reinforce this narrative further, there are eleven federally mandated “special observances” that all military installations must celebrate.
I was browsing that list about a year ago, muttering to myself that six different ethnicities were represented among the observances while whites — by far the most significant racial component in the Air Force, to the tune of 75 percent — were omitted, when I noticed an interesting provision in the fine-print paragraph at the very bottom of the document:
Organizations are not required to limit their special observances to just those reflected here. Others may be conducted providing the same local procedures are used for research, planning, implementation and evaluation as any other special observance.
A thought occurred to me: suppose these egalitarian lackeys were presented with a dilemma. Suppose someone asked them to dispense the blessings of social justice upon a non-minority category — say, whites.
I called over to the base Equal Opportunity (EO) office: “Can you tell me what the process is for creating a new special observance?”
The girl on the other end sounded confused: “Excuse me?”
“You guys oversee the special observance program, right? I’m trying to create a brand new observance.”
“A new one? What would it be called?”
“Well, I think ‘White Heritage Month’ has a nice ring to it, don’t you?”
“Ummm … well … ummm … let me get back to you, sir.”
A short while later, a black female sergeant e-mailed me a response: “Sir, I do not believe that a White Heritage Month is a good idea because it could be viewed as discriminatory against other races.”
As it turned out, this particular girl had no authority to decide one way or the other on the issue, but I found it amusing that I had just been discriminated against — by the Equal Opportunity office. It’s kind of like getting cheated by the Better Business Bureau. Where exactly do you go to complain about that?
Because I was the first person who had ever proposed a new special observance, nobody quite knew what to do about my request. There was no procedure in place for handling this sort of thing, so the Air Force spent the next few months generating a fifteen-question application for new observances. The questions fell mainly into two categories. The first group referenced some broad and ambiguous goals of the special observance program and inquired as to how White Heritage Month (WHM) would tend to achieve them. A paraphrased example:
The special observance program exists to combat stereotypes and promote esprit de corps. How will your observance accomplish these goals?
A vague question deserves a vague answer, so I replied that WHM would do so in the same way that all the other special observances do — not a satisfying answer, but I was only asking for equal footing. Will Black History Month get shut down if it fails to promote esprit de corps? Of course not. It is guaranteed to remain in existence by force of federal legislation, no matter how pointless or useless it might be. Why does WHM have to go to greater lengths to justify itself than the other observances do?
The questions in the second category went to the opposite extreme, probing into such minutiae that they were no more answerable than those in the first category. These were questions like, which guest speakers would I invite; what would their talking points be; what was my schedule of events; what attire would the attendees wear; and so forth.
This information I declined to provide for several reasons. First, I was requesting approval for a recurring, annual observance, not a one-time event. There was no way to plan these specifics in advance for all events across all future years. Second, the other observances enjoy a general permission to exist, and then propose their itineraries and guest speakers on the fly. WHM should be afforded this same latitude. Third, I was pretty sure no one had any intention of approving my application, with or without the requested information. Sending me off to hammer out intricate details for an event that would probably never take place sounded Orwellianly disingenuous. I wanted some indication of good faith before I went to the trouble of arranging all the logistics.
Once I completed the application, it was submitted to the base commander, who at the time was a man we will refer to as Colonel Welsher. Upon seeing that I had omitted most of the information (as described above), Colonel Welsher asked his EO staff to e-mail me:
Reviewing officials have requested additional specific activity/event information on questions 4, 5, 6, 10, and 12 so an informed decision can be made on your request.
I declined to add any information. My application had been carefully crafted to satisfy no more than the truly relevant criteria: that WHM was similar in nature to the other observances, and that it would be subject to the same rules and regulations as the others. I wanted the decision to be made on that basis alone. As a result, Colonel Welsher sent me the following decision memorandum:
I have reviewed your request to hold a special observance celebrating White heritage. After you submitted your request we asked you to provide additional information about your proposed event, which you declined to provide. Accordingly, I have decided to deny your request. Air Force Instruction 36-2706, paragraph 15.4, requires special observances be conducted “to enhance cross-cultural awareness and to promote diversity.” Unfortunately, your submission has not demonstrated how it would serve these purposes.
When I received this letter, I immediately walked over to the EO office and filed a racial-discrimination complaint against him. Now, it just so happens that Colonel Welsher is black. His ethnicity made no difference to me, of course, as I would have filed the same complaint against anyone of any race for denying the application. Even so, the racial disparity between us added an interesting dimension to the complaint. There had been no small stir among my leadership when I had first inquired about creating WHM, but the commotion ramped up considerably when a white officer accused a black colonel of racial discrimination. Also, when a complaint of this nature is brought against a colonel or higher, everyone in his chain of command all the way up to the Secretary of the Air Force gets notified, so there was a high-ranking audience keeping watch over this issue.
To complicate matters, the EO office at my base could not investigate the complaint because the alleged offender was their commander, Colonel Welsher. To avoid this conflict of interest, the Air Force had to farm my complaint out to an EO office at a different base (in this case they chose a base 2000 miles away). That office sent out an investigator: a black enlisted woman whose reading comprehension level I would estimate as sixth-grade, and whose analytic abilities, if measured during an EEG, probably could not have made the needle twitch. Most of what I explained to her she did not understand; and, unsurprisingly, after all was said and done, she stamped the complaint “unsubstantiated” — Colonel Welsher had done nothing wrong. Her final report was reviewed by Welsher’s commander (a three-star general), by multiple levels of EO staff, and by the Judge Advocate’s office, all of whom conveniently concurred that no discrimination had taken place.
Now, this was as simple and as plain a case of racial discrimination as you could find anywhere in the archives. Races A, B, C, D, E, and F were afforded a certain privilege, while Race G was denied that privilege, first by tacit default, and again after specially requesting it. Isn’t this just a matter of basic equality — that sacred, ethereal cry that is supposed to resonate within the soul of every DoD employee? The Secretary of the Air Force published a memorandum in 2015 in which she stated the following:
We must continue to build and maintain our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and the associated promise of enhanced mission performance. . . . You have our word on the Air Force commitment to diversity and inclusion. . . . We will continue to nurture and lead this effort from the front and we expect our leaders and Airmen at all levels to do the same.
Apparently, beneath this mindless bureaucratic claptrap is the unstated caveat that diversity and inclusion are never to be construed so as to benefit whites, because neither the Secretary of the Air Force, nor any of her staff, nor any officer who was aware of my efforts lifted so much as a finger in support of equality!
Well, after my complaint got tossed in the trash, I paced the floor for a while trying to decide what to do next. A lawsuit seemed like a natural response, but I questioned whether my case was solid. Maybe a judge would find merit in the claim that the application lacked necessary detail. I eventually decided there was no harm in just trying again: I would submit a new application, this time with plenty of specifics. Colonel Welsher wanted guest speakers? I gave him names of dozens and dozens of potential guest speakers. He wanted an itinerary? I gave him an hour-by-hour, 9am-to-4pm schedule of events for all 21 workdays that would occur during our observance month; and I planned out games, movies, skits, plays, dances, contests, exhibits, reenactments, recitations, lectures, musical concerts, athletic events, craft shows, and flagpole ceremonies. (Maybe this assortment of activities seems excessive, but I pulled these ideas straight from the suggested “Event Ideas” on page 5 of the Special Observance Planning Guide.) Welsher wanted to know how WHM would combat stereotypes? I told him we would put a stop to dumb-blonde jokes, to redneck jokes, to anti-white racial derogations like Polack, Russky, Frog, Kraut, Goon, Wop, Dago, Limey, Mick, and Paddy, and to the numerous terms that stereotypically associate whites with certain types of food: English muffins, Belgian waffles, French toast, French onion dip, German chocolate, Polish sausage, Swiss cheese, Italian ice, Caesar salad, Greek yogurt, etc.
I suspected this application would receive the same disposition as the first, but at least I had removed any excuse of insufficient detail. Colonel Welsher would have to come up with a new reason to reject my application, and the Air Force would have to find some way of unofficially discouraging me from pursuing this effort any further. More on that in Part 2…