It was early January 2016 when I sent Colonel Welsher my second application for White Heritage Month. Imagine the horrified look on his face when he saw that my itinerary proposed, among other things, a reenactment of the Siege of Malta, a production of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, and a recitation of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
What seemed to worry him the most, though, were the 60 potential guest speakers I had listed. He put his lackeys straight to work researching and scrutinizing each one. There was nothing especially controversial about these people; they were just representative of the various fields that whites have excelled in: Joel Salatin (agriculture), Paul Sellers (woodworking), Gary Becker (economics), Andrew Saul (medicine), Michael Fifer (weaponry), Leif Andsnes (music), Magnus Carlsen (chess). To round things out, I even threw Marcus Pittman on the list as a hat tip to the tubby, vaping, unintelligent cohort of the white race.
By the middle of February, Colonel Welsher sent me another rejection letter:
After a thorough review and consideration of your request to hold a “White Heritage Month” … I deny your request. I have determined your event would not meet the criteria of the Air Force special observance program. If you want to further understand that program, please consult Air Force Instruction 36-2706, “Equal Opportunity Program.” …
In denying your request I specifically found your proposed events will not encourage positive interaction, promote mutual respect, understanding, teamwork, harmony, pride, or esprit de corps among all groups. I also note that White Heritage Month is not recognized in any Public Law or Presidential Proclamation.
In sum, the Air Force expects special observances to combat stereotypical behaviors, benefit diverse workplaces, and maintain a healthy human relations climate. Based on your application I do not believe your proposed white heritage observance will do so.
Let me reiterate that my application conformed strictly to all the guidelines that were given to me regarding the planning and organizing of a special observance. My event types were appropriate; my guest speakers were reasonable; and my itinerary included all the requested details. I took great care to deprive Welsher of any justification for rejecting this observance. Consequently, he was forced to state his objections in extremely vague terminology: “your proposed events will not encourage positive interaction.” What does that even mean? More importantly, how should I change my events to make them encourage positive interaction?
One thing I learned in the previous round of this fight was that I should have attempted some direct resolution with Colonel Welsher before filing a formal complaint. Wanting to improve on that this time, I put the ball squarely in his court and gave him a chance to avoid a second complaint. I sent him this e-mail:
Sir, please send me a complete list of changes I need to make to my application to get it approved. Thank you.
This request was designed to corner him. On the one hand, if he helped me fix the application, he lost any excuse for rejecting the corrected version. On the other hand, if he refused, he validated my suspicion that the whole application process was a dishonest charade: no corrections could be made because Welsher had no intention of approving the request no matter how well it satisfied the stipulated criteria.
Not happy about being forced into this dilemma, Colonel Welsher picked up the phone and called my commander, Colonel Fife. Up to this point, I had not troubled Fife with anything regarding White Heritage Month because it simply was not within his purview. Welsher, however, invited him into this dispute because he wanted Fife to flex his muscles at me.
Now, you would think that a commander who was asked to try to intimidate one of his subordinates would not only refuse, but maybe even chide the person who requested such a thing. No, no, no. Colonels hang together. Fife summoned me to his office. I arrived and found that he had also invited several members of his staff to participate in this meeting. Their presence indicated a disciplinary tenor, as they were needed as witnesses. On my way in the door, I flipped on my cell phone’s voice recorder so I would have a record of the following conversation:
FIFE: I know you’re pursuing the White Heritage Month, and you put forward packages through Colonel Welsher. You’re pursuing this, and that’s good. But the last response to him … you’re almost tasking a wing commander, so I would just ask that you not do that. It’s just for professionalism. We don’t do that. There’s staff that you need to go through first.
ME: I have gone through his staff. I have interacted extensively with the Equal Opportunity office to put these applications together. But one of the things that weakened my previous discrimination complaint was that I hadn’t attempted any direct resolution with Colonel Welsher before filing the complaint. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.
FIFE: Okay, but the tone in which you respond to him has to be respectful.
ME: The only thing my e-mail said was, “Please let me know what I need to change to my application to get it approved.” What’s wrong with the tone in that?
FIFE: [long pause] Ummm … do you have a copy of that e-mail? I haven’t seen that.
ME: That’s the only e-mail I’ve ever sent him. I thought that’s what we were discussing.
Fife turned an embarrassed red and stared straight down at the table for a long time. Not knowing how else to break the silent tension, he finally asked the attendant staff members if they wanted to add anything to the conversation. They said no, and Fife dismissed me.
It was a strange conversation. Why would a busy colonel feel the need to disrupt his own schedule and that of several high-ranking staff members to confront me about a benign one-sentence e-mail that he had not even bothered to read? My best guess was that he did not expect me to parry his accusations — the mere fact of a confrontation was supposed to make my teeth chatter. Sycophancy pervades the military culture. When the colonel frowns, your job is to admit guilt and shed tears of remorse. That is the reaction he would have gotten from almost any other officer in the unit, and he expected no different from me.
When I realized this meeting had been nothing more than an intimidation attempt, I wrote a letter to both colonels expressing my objections to their cowardly tactics. That really got Fife’s dander up. He fired back by issuing me a Letter of Admonishment wherein he accused me of “Disrespect Toward a Superior Commissioned Officer,” a violation of Article 89 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Fife saw nothing wrong with abusing his authority over me; but for me to object, well, that is a serious crime. Actually, it was his disciplinary actions that contravened federal statutory law. Retaliating against a military member who reports or complains of wrongdoing constitutes reprisal.
So now, in addition to the discrimination complaint against Colonel Welsher for rejecting my application, I also had reprisal and abuse-of-authority complaints against Colonel Fife.
The discrimination complaint was sloppily investigated and discarded, just like the first one. When I ordered a copy of the case file and reviewed each colonel’s testimony, I discovered they had both submitted false and contradictory statements. I appealed the complaint to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force along with the evidence of perjury and stated that the investigation had been wrongfully interfered with. This appeal currently awaits a determination.
With regard to the reprisal issue, the Inspector General dismissed the complaint without conducting an investigation at all.
Curiously, in the midst of these events, Colonel Welsher was removed from his post as the base commander and replaced with a white female, Colonel Magwich.
One of the first things Magwich did after assuming command was to organize a base-wide “Diversity Festival” — a weekend event intended to showcase the various special observances by means of informational booths, cultural presentations, and ethnic food and music. Upon finding out that nobody had offered to set up a booth for white heritage, I wrote a letter to the chairman of the Diversity Council (a civilian named Lolita) and volunteered for the job:
Lolita, it sounds like no one is operating a White Heritage booth on Saturday, so I’ll go ahead and set one up. I have my own tables and such. Let me know if there’s any other information I need. Otherwise I’ll see you at the park on Saturday. Thanks!
Lolita forwarded this e-mail to Colonel Magwich who immediately suffered a panic attack. Within ten minutes, my phone was ringing and e-mails were pouring into my inbox.
Sir, do not set up any extra tables at the Diversity Festival! — Sir, this festival is only for non-white observances. — Sir, per the base commander’s instructions, you are not authorized to have a booth representing white heritage.
Colonel Magwich, like her predecessor, felt inadequate to handle this situation on her own, so she requested Colonel Fife’s assistance in muscling me. Never hesitant to spread his peacock feathers, Fife issued me the following mandate:
This is a direct order for you to not attempt to set up an additional booth or other display at the Diversity Festival on Saturday. This includes distributing any documents or having displays near or around this venue.
The Diversity Festival is for the 10 DoD approved set of recognized organizations. Your proposed White Heritage organization is not an approved DoD organization. The 10 booths are the only booths authorized and approved for this year’s event.
You are welcome to come to the event and participate just like any member of the base.
What keeps field-grade officers awake at night? The possibility of having too much diversity at a Diversity Festival, of course.
To intensify the irony further, the logo that was on the advertisement for this event acknowledged the following ethnicities: American Indian, Polynesian, Black, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and White. I asked Lolita why the word White appeared on the flyer if whites were supposed to be excluded from the festival. I never did get an answer back on that.
Well, after all the effort by Magwich and Fife to keep this festival non-white, I figured it would be a shame for me not to show up and see the final product. Because this was an off-duty, recreational event, I was not in uniform, nor were the other participants, except for two colonels, a chief master sergeant, and two armed guards who were there to keep an eye on me. As instructed, I did not set up any booth or distribute literature, but instead walked around asking people if they could tell me where the White Heritage booth was. For some reason, this question made everyone edgy and uncomfortable. One of the colonels present had apparently been assigned as my watchdog. He stayed nearby and persisted in harassing me each time I confronted someone. At one point he even got physical with me — not amounting to any significant violence, but enough to qualify as assault.
When all was said and done, the Diversity Festival fiasco led to a criminal investigation against my assailant; a discrimination investigation against the three colonels (all of whom were white) involved with preventing the White Heritage booth; and a special complaint called an Article 138 that I filed against Colonel Fife for issuing me an illegal order. I also have a third application for White Heritage Month in the works.
As the Air Force realizes that its Convoy of Equality approaches a pro-white destination, it is hurriedly sounding retreat. However, the machinery has too much momentum to stop on a dime, so while the tank treads are skidding and the brakes are screeching, I am more than happy to stand alongside and shovel sand into the gearbox.