The Supreme Court's Decision to Continue Racial Discrimination at Military Academies Betrays the Nation and the Military

USMA Cadets at graduation. CREDIT: USMA/public domain

Thursday, the US Supreme Court took a giant step toward creating a more free and equitable America by severely limiting the role of race in college admissions (BREAKING: Supreme Court Rejects Race-Based College Admissions). The eradication of this pernicious system that favors the children of upper-middle-class Blacks over Asian immigrants or first-generation college-attending blue-collar Whites has done nothing to advance the cause of diversity beyond the melanin-conscious bean-counting variety and has done much damage to the idea that Blacks can make it in society without a paternalistic government, or educational bureaucracy, lending a helping hand.

The Supreme Court's Decision to Continue Racial Discrimination at Military Academies Undercuts Its Whole Argument

Oddly enough, while the decision outlawed race-conscious admissions policies in higher education, the one place the majority permitted racial discrimination to continue apace was at the nation’s military academies.

The Supreme Court's Decision to Continue Racial Discrimination at Military Academies Undercuts Its Whole Argument

Yes, even as Harvard is forbidden to engage in outright racial discrimination, the US Department of Defense has convinced the Court that there is something so special about the military academies that the Constitution does not apply to them.

I’m not going to delve into an analysis of the racialist stereotypes that the government and its fluffers used to bolster this position. But I will make some observations on why I think this carve out for the US military is a betrayal of the Constitution and the country.

First, it is difficult to find a case where soldiers respond favorably to an incompetent officer because of his race. It is equally difficult to find a case where troops only give their best for an officer of their race or background. As a rule, soldiers prefer to be led by officers inclined to get them home safely, regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin. The Buffalo Soldiers (9th and 10th US Cavalry and 24th and 25th US Infantry) were led by White officers. No one complained about their performance. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, famed in the movie “Glory,” had only White officers. The British Army had numerous colonial regiments that performed at the highest level of military efficiency and were officered by White Britons. The men of the Irish Regiments in the British Army, before Catholic Emancipation in the late 19th/early 20th century, couldn’t vote or hold office because of their religion and were some of the most valiant regiments in the British Army.

The flip side of the racialist argument that Black soldiers need to serve under, or see, Black officers to do their best is the implication that unless this is the case, they won’t. That is a lie. It is also the mirror image of the rationale that kept West Point from admitting Black cadets.

To the extent that the military academies serve a useful function today, and I’m increasingly in doubt of that value proposition, they need to produce an officer qualitatively superior to the officers commissioned by ROTC and the various officer training schools for enlisted men. The only way that can happen is if the academies recruit candidates based solely on merit.

The legalization of racial preferences for military academy admissions, particularly now that the Supreme Court has given the Defense Department carte blanche to impose them in defiance of the US Constitution, does nothing to help the recruiting woes of the military. If Army Secretary Christine Wormuth (sorry, I threw up a little bit in my mouth keyboarding that) is upset that stories about a “woke” Army are damaging recruiting, she’s going to love defending the Army officer corps from the charge that it is a product of legal racial discrimination and trying to convince skeptical parents that their kids will be in good hands.

What is worse, by creating the carve-out for the US military academies, the Supreme Court opened a door for the continuation of racial discrimination at colleges and universities offering ROTC. As the wide Latina notes in her dissent:

The Supreme Court's Decision to Continue Racial Discrimination at Military Academies Undercuts Its Whole Argument
You can’t make the case that our military academies are allowed to recruit based on racist stereotypes and not let ROTC programs…or universities that provide federal intelligence and law enforcement officers…do the same. It is a logical inconsistency that even the most heroic efforts of cognitive dissonance will not permit.

There was no reason for Chief Justice Roberts to fence the US military academies from having to comply with the US Constitution. There was no reason for him to credit a bunch of self-evident balderdash as logical, legal arguments as to why racial discrimination in academy appointments is necessary. The result has betrayed the US military, the young men and women who have the right to the best leadership the nation can provide regardless of skin color, and validated the stereotype that Black officers only exist because of affirmative action.

For a man who once said, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating based on race,” this was a huge missed opportunity.





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