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The Naval Academy’s Double Standard

“Naval Academy Professor Challenges Rising Diversity,” ran the headline in The Washington Post.

The impression left was that some sorehead was griping because black and Hispanic kids were finally being admitted.

The Post’s opening paragraphs reinforced the impression.

“Of the 1,230 plebes who took the oath of office at the Naval Academy in Annapolis this week, 435 were members of minority groups. It’s the most racially diverse class in the nation’s 164-year history. Academy leaders say it’s a top priority to build a student body that reflects the racial makeup of the Navy and the nation.”


Who can be against diversity?

What the Post gets around to is that 22-year English professor Bruce Fleming objects to a race-based admissions program that was apparently used to create a class that is 35 percent minority.

According to Fleming, who once sat on the board of admissions, white applicants must have all As and Bs and test scores of at least 600 on the English and math parts of the SAT even to qualify for a “slate” of 10 applicants, from which only one will be chosen.

However, if you check a box indicating you are African-American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian, writes Fleming, “SAT scores to the mid 500s with quite a few Cs in classes … typically produces a vote of ‘qualified’ … with direct admission to Annapolis. They’re in and given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.”

If true, the U.S. Naval Academy is running a two-tier admissions system of the kind that kept Jennifer Gratz out of the University of Michigan and was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“Minority applicants with scores and grades down to the 300s and Cs and Ds also come, though after a year at our taxpayer-supported remedial school, the Naval Academy Preparatory School.”

If true, this is a national disgrace. It would represent a U.S. Naval Academy policy of systematic race discrimination, every year, against hundreds of white kids who worked and studied their entire lives for the honor of being appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming career officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.

If true, what Annapolis has done and is doing is worse — because it is premeditated and programmed racism — than the cowardly act of the New Haven city government in denying Frank Ricci and the white firefighters the promotions they had won in a competitive exam. At least New Haven could say it acted out of fear of being sued.

Yet, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and the Superintendent of the Naval Academy Vice Adm. Jerry Fowler seem quite proud of what they are doing.

Fleming quotes the CNO as saying that “diversity is the number one priority” at the academy. Fowler says he wants Annapolis graduates who “looked like” the fleet, where 42 percent of enlisted personnel are nonwhite.

The diversity midshipmen, says Fleming, who teaches them, are over-represented in “pre-college lower track courses, mandatory tutoring programs and less-challenging majors. Many struggle to master basic concepts.”

Thus, though unqualified for college work, these students will be operating the most sophisticated and complex weapons systems ever built — aircraft carriers, Aegis cruisers, nuclear submarines.

“First of all, we’re dumbing-down the Naval Academy,” charges Fleming. “Second of all, we’re dumbing-down the officers corps.”

Supporting Fleming’s claim, 22 percent of incoming plebes in 2009 had SAT scores in math below 600, compared to 12 percent in 2008.

If the facts are as Fleming states — the academy is accepting dumber and dumber students to get its racial composition right — who can deny that the price of diversity is deliberate acceptance of a less able and competent United States Navy?

“Diversity is our number one priority,” Roughhead is quoted. Can one imagine Adm. Chester Nimitz or “Bull” Halsey making an insipid statement like that? Can one imagine what Adm. David “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” Farragut would have thought of such a policy?

Whatever happened to the Hyman Rickover-Jimmy Carter motto for the Naval Academy and U.S. Navy: “Why Not the Best?”

Consider. If hundreds of black and Hispanic kids who applied to the academy had been rejected though they had higher grades and SAT scores than those admitted, this story would not have been in the Metro section of the Post. It would have been bannered on page one. And Roughead and Fowler would be explaining to a congressional committee why they should not be relieved of their commands.

Fleming, who still teaches at Annapolis, and has likely had some unpleasant moments since he blew the whistle on his superiors, has shown considerable moral courage.

Hopefully, Congress will show the same moxy and investigate this outage. Hopefully, some of those white kids, cheated out of their life’s dream of attending the Naval Academy — while less qualified kids were admitted — will sue the academy, just like Frank Ricci and those gutsy firefighters sued the city of New Haven.


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Comments Disabled To "The Naval Academy’s Double Standard"

#1 Comment By Liberty Belle On July 7, 2009 @ 10:37 am


#2 Comment By Dennis Tuchler On July 7, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

Intellect is needed for leadership and for the task of strategic and tactical planning. If the school and aptitude tests are accurate, then any departure from the ranking by those tests disserves the United States. If, on the other hand, there are special reasons for individual exceptions to such test results, then the application of those reasons to particular students, especially non-white or non-christian or (dare I say it?) homosexual applicants serves the United States’s need for diversity in the military services. Such need is not the elevation of races or etc., but the disconnection between merit (qualification for that job) and race or religion or …

In no other case is group-based special treatment justifiable.

#3 Comment By Jason On July 8, 2009 @ 2:04 am

I was one of the applicants to the c/o 2013 and didn’t get accepted.

Is this also happening at the Military Academy in West Point? What about the other Service Academies?

And what does he mean by “They’re in and given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.”? Even if the Academy gives the thumbs-up, without a nomination from a congressman, the President, or a service-connected nomiation such as ROTC or your service department, you don’t get in. A nomination to a Service academy is legal authority for the Academy to extend an offer of admission. Without a nomination, you can’t go, and I’ve never heard of a “pro forma” nomination.

#4 Comment By TomB On July 8, 2009 @ 8:34 am

Jason asked:

“And what does he mean by “They’re in and given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.”?

What he means is now illuminated by your own hopefully accurate statement that you need a nomination to get in even if the Academy gives you a thumbs-up.

I.e., something “pro forma” is a thing given as a matter of course, in this case a nomination/the final ticket in; something automatically granted to those Fleming was referring to whose test scores were accepted despite being sub-par; the final step necessary to actually realize the effect of the affirmative action already taken by accepting as suitable those ordinarily disqualifying test scores.

#5 Comment By William Morris On July 8, 2009 @ 11:01 am

Justice O’Connor placed heavy reliance in her opinion that all 79 of the former Chiefs of Staff had signed an amicus brief urging that the military academies continue to utilize racial preferences in the selection of entering freshmen.

#6 Comment By Divya Sharma On July 14, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

Do you really believe that SAT scores count on the sea? If you do, I am sure you have never faced war!

What was the state of the naval officers when there were no SAT scores? Were American people any dumber before they were administered the SAT tests? Did they defend themselves less well then than they are doing now?

Did any of the founding fathers score above 600?! Were the any dumber than us?!

#7 Comment By Vert On July 22, 2009 @ 11:36 am

Great article Pat. I’m a USNA grad and can comment on the pro-forma nominations – those are ones USNA keeps in its back pocket for just such programs. The Superintendent of the academy has I believe 50 (maybe 100) nominations he can award directly, and the SECNAV has 170 that are supposed to be awarded to enlisted personal on a competitive basis (who usually go to the prep school 1st). There are also 65 nominations for children of servicemen KIA, POWs, or permanently disabled. Also, inside info has it that the USNA admissions office has been directly soliciting Congressmen to give over their nominations to USNA which then get used for this program (legal? Certainly not according to the letter of the law). We know the Superintendent is misusing his nominations for these pro-forma awards, and I would bet they are also misusing nominations from the other categories (maybe claiming there weren’t enough applicants??) to support this racist agenda. Definitely should be looked into.

BTW, I don’t know a single Naval Academy alumni who supports these racist admissions policies (including numerous minorities). The Naval Academy should be ashamed of itself. So much for honesty and integrity.