Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt.
Have a seat, and pour yourself something, we need to talk.
Woke Inc. is starting to really annoy me, so I’m going to vent. Most of my comments today will be related to the military, but first I’m going to discuss Wokecon, oh wait, I mean Worldcon.
Now Worldcon is a subject I’ve touched on before, and they have been dead to me for about five years. For those of you that are not Science Fiction writers or fans (why the hell not?) Worldcon is a traveling convention that various Science Fiction Cons bid for the “honor” of hosting. It’s where the formerly biggest awards in Science Fiction and Fantasy are awarded… Sort of the Oscars of SF&F… And, just like the Oscars, they’ve become a loony bin of the Uberwoke, where there is a constantly moving target of how far left you must be (always a little farther comrade) and who you’re supposed to hate today. Failure to be up to the second on your hate list will get you entered in that list, so pay attention!
Things didn’t used to be that way. Some of the biggest names with conservative voices have won Hugos. Of course, that was then, this is now. For the last ten or fifteen years, if you weren’t from TOR publishing, you weren’t going to get an award. It got to the point where there was a rebellion within the ranks of SF fandom, which I wrote about at the time, called the “Sad Puppies.” They proved over a four-year period, that the Secret Masters Of Fandom had gone so far around the bend that they would rather give “No Award” than give a conservative voice the award.
Among the folks that they snubbed were Toni Weisskopf, a person that grew up (Literally) in fandom, and the editor in chief of the only large house in publishing that would publish a conservative. Mind you, they also publish liberals. Hell, one of the main authors in the Baen stable Eric Flint, is an admitted and avowed communist and labor unionist. (he’s basically a Trotskyite if you’re familiar enough with the divisions.)
See that doesn’t matter to Baen, they’re strictly and solely about “the story.” If you tell a good story, you have a shot at getting published by them no matter your politics.
Well, that was just not acceptable to the awards committee, so she was snubbed. That became such an OBVIOUS miscarriage of justice that this year, Worldcon invited her to be the Guest of Honor. Toni, being a much nicer and classier person than I am, accepted the invitation. (After the way she and the rest of us were treated I would have told them to go have sex with themselves.)
Now flash forward to last week. Baen runs what was sort of the original social media group for SF&F called the Baen’s Bar. It was a freeform site with groups for all of their major authors, groups for anything from Atmospheric sciences to Zombies. This matters only because some nebbish that no one has ever heard of, started accusing Baen of allowing “hate speech, and plans for insurrection” to appear on their web pages. (It’s believed, but to the best of my knowledge unproven, that said nebbish was rejected for publication and committed a literary “SWATing” in revenge.)
Well, in this modern world of accusations being enough to convict in the court of woke, this caused the unprecedented (NO, REALLY, in the 60 years that Worldcon has been around this has NEVER been done.) act of withdrawing the invitation to be Guest of Honor.
Look, WC has been drifting further and further into oblivion for fifteen years, ever since they became the bastion of wokeness and old purple-haired liberals in wheelchairs not because they’re too crippled but because they’re too fat to walk. Dragoncon has become all that Worldcon wants to be, but will never again approach. With this last stunt, plus the fact that they got kicked out of their hotel, well this may have been the last act of a once-great institution that now needs to be institutionalized. They have gone from being a voice for writing and for free-thinking to a voice for thought police and political purity tests. I’m sure that if Hugo Gernsback were still alive, he would sue for defamation of character.
Now let’s talk about this same sort of thing coming to the Navy.
Back in 1979 when I was in High School, there was a program called BOOST in the Navy. “Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection” (I have no idea what the T was for, so don’t ask) As I came from a little town in Michigan that was not exactly the epicenter of academic excellence, my recruiter put me in for this program. The discussion between him and his division officer (as reported by him) went like this:
“So, this Lehman kid… Looks possible, what color is he?”
“What do you mean, “what color is he?” He’s navy blue!”
“Petty Officer, you know this is a program for minorities! If he’s not black, or Hispanic, he’s out!”
“Well, I’m putting him in any way.”
When the dust settled the letter came back that I was “overqualified.” Privately I was told that “you’re too white.” That program eventually received a well-deserved ax and was buried.
Flash forward to today, and “Task Force One Navy”. Also known as Diversity Incorporated. An organization that started from the premise “the Navy is bigoted” and from that premise was to find ways to fix the problem. Well, I served for 20 years in uniform and as of July another 20 years as a civilian, and I just don’t see it. Have I served with some bigots? Yes, yes, I have. Some of them were even white.
What do I mean by that?
I had an officer, (white) who flat out hated minorities. He was an embarrassment to the service, and in the end, wound up on the wrong side of the prison bars.
I have also walked down into berthing on a surface ship to get a supply type up so that I could get a repair part, and been told in no uncertain terms to get my Farang (it’s a Pacific islander word for a white guy… roughly the equivalent of the N-word) ass out of their space before they cut my ass up and throw me over the side as shark bait.
I have related here before, stories of a particular Black Master Chief who told me that “anything I do to you white motherfuckers is just getting back a little of our own for what your ancestors did to mine.”
I responded as Base Police to a riot at the EM club where the rioters had told the first officer on the scene that they were going to cut him into pieces so small his mother wouldn’t recognize his white ass if he didn’t get out of “their club.” (this was rap night, and there were two aircraft carriers in port.) When we showed up as “back up” with an MWD lunging and begging to be turned loose, we suddenly had a very cooperative audience… No one seemed to be afraid of the 12 gage I had out and at the low ready, but no one wanted to be on the receiving end of Trixie. Five guns fell to the ground as we started to round people up and put them in the prisoner transport van. (ON BASE!)
So yes, there is bigotry in the service, it is after all a reflection of the society that it protects. Still, the new plan that Diversity Inc has come up with seems based on the assumption that “if you’re white, you’re a racist, whether you know it or not, and if you deny it, that just proves it!” This is known as a “Kafka Trap” based on the novel “The Trial” by the Czech writer Franz Kafka. It’s highly thought of in totalitarian regimes. It doesn’t belong in the Navy.
Why do I call it Diversity Inc? Because it’s become an industry. There are large numbers of people who have made a career and in fact a career FIELD out of showing that there is racism and bigotry EVERYWHERE and you need to hire them and pay them to root it out, and fix the issue.
Among the things that Task Force one wants to bring back or introduce is the BOOST program, service-wide training on “implicit bias,” more marketing within “underrepresented communities that appeal to Generation Z minorities,” (hell for most of my life, the economically disadvantaged were the bread and butter of the military, it’s how some kid from a factory town, or the inner city, or… winds up learning a trade, getting a degree, and generally getting themselves out of the shithole their family was stuck in… That doesn’t need a degree in minority studies to figure out!) Studying adding more NROTC units (completely ignoring the fact that most “woke universities” have kicked ROTC of any sort OUT of their college) and a lot of other things that “show that we are the good guys, and we mean well.” It’s worth noting that in the study, they state that the Enlisted Navy is MORE diverse, from a racial and ethnic stance than society as a whole. (means we have a greater percentage of minorities than the nation.) There are however fewer women than men, (well gosh, for most of the history of the Navy, women couldn’t be in combat ratings. I wonder why there are fewer women?) Oh, but here’s the kicker, the officer corps is mostly white and Asian males, and that appears to be a problem. You can see the whole thing here: https://news.usni.org/2021/02/03/task-force-one-navy-issues-more-than-50-recommendations-to-improve-diversity-in-the-service it takes a lot of wading through, as the actual report is an inset in the article, and runs 142 pages counting appendixes. It’s quite telling to read the comments below the article.
There are basically three ways to make high rank in the military (any branch).
Way number one: be a war hero. Be the guy who won that battle, you know the one, where we kicked their sorry asses. Well, with the exception of the SEALs (and the rest of their support groups like the riverine patrol guys) and the Aviation community, we haven’t had any real navy wars since… Well, I’ll be charitable and say Nam. Oh, there was the cold war, which was very good for my own Submarine Community, but then we’re as much of an oddball branch as the pilots and snake eaters. For Surface guys there just hasn’t been much of a chance to kick enemy ass. The perfect example of this type of officer is Nimitz.
Way number two: Be an Equipment hero. That means being “the guy that introduced X to the fleet.” For X, fill in cool new bad guy killing equipment here. The guy that brought the Agis system to fruition, the guy behind the BSY 1 sonar system, or the RAM (rolling airframe missile). Well, you get the picture. But see there’s some danger here. Not as much as there is in the “war hero” path, but… If you pick the wrong system, if you are for example the guy that brought the LCS system to the Navy, or the guy behind the Zumwalt class DD… Yeah, once they realize that you sponsored a steaming pile of shit, your career is TOAST. Then there’s the fact that you actually have to know quite a bit about the technology. Not just anyone can sort through all the beltway bandit speak and figure out whether this piece of equipment is worth pushing for… You better have a good engineering background if you’re going that route… The perfect example of this is Rickover.
Then there’s the third way. Be the guy that came up with a new personnel program that congress likes. It’s fairly risk-free because it relies on politics and patronage instead of military or technical acumen. Be the guy that brought the “fat boy” program to the navy, or the guy that finally put women on submarines. The guy that came up with the DAOMI survey, where the navy asks the rank and file what they think of their command, and whether they have any close friends at their command, and uses that data to rank how effective the CO and his programs are.
Of course, the survey has to be anonymous or no one in their right mind is going to say anything but “this is a great place to work!” and you can’t MAKE people fill it out. Well since it is anonymous, and voluntary, instead, what you get is the five percent that really LOVE the command, and the five percent or so that have some sort of ax to grind against the command… but HEY it’s this great management tool, that gives us METRICS! And METRICS is ALL THAT MATTERS. See if you have numbers to look at, you don’t have to understand anything ugly like nuances, you can just treat people like widgets and put them in boxes. There are no perfect examples that anyone would know the name of because such people generally don’t become famous. The beautiful thing is that while you don’t become famous, you also are just about risk-free, and you don’t have to understand all that technical babble. The only risk you really have is that once you make high-rank someone will think you’re a real military officer, and put you in charge of something where you’ll have to send people off to fight and die.
If Task Force One tickles you, you are just going to love this next bit. By April 6, All Navy personnel, uniformed and civilian will be required to repeat their oaths of enlistment or office again, and discuss what actions betray that promise. Now, once before in history, we had something where people were required to redo their oaths, it was called the Civil War. It seems that the Chief of Naval Personnel has determined that we have “Extremists” in our ranks, and so we’re going to have a standdown (like you have when too many people get killed doing something stupid) to weed these extremists out, and emphasizing that our oath is to the constitution and not to a person…
The trouble with this, to my view, is that the folks that were protesting, and NO it was not an “insurrection,” they didn’t have guns, they didn’t have bombs, and they didn’t kill anyone, unlike a couple of times in the 70s and 80s when the left stormed the capital building and set off pipe bombs… (Oh, they didn’t kill anyone either, but based on the shrapnel-based pipe bombs they used, it wasn’t for lack of trying.) Anyway, the folks that were protesting thought they WERE defending the constitution, which, among other things ensures fair elections.
The guidance includes “Commanders can tailor the discussions they have with their personnel, but all must include the group reaffirmation of the oath of enlistment and discussions about what it means. They must also address the responsibility leaders at every level have to report and investigate signs of extremism, and the findings of a Navy task force that recently made dozens of recommendations about how to end racism in the ranks.” According to an article by Gina Harkins in Military News.
There is a lot about this that makes me nervous. 1) If the guy or gal actually is an “extremist” what makes you think this is going to change anything? 2) As I mentioned, the last time something like this was done it was in the aftermath of the Civil War… do we really think, as a Navy, that this is what happened here? 3) this whole “report and investigate signs of extremism” piece… BOY, there’s a lot of quotes that come to mind by people that wrote and signed that constitution that I took an oath to defend, and that I’ll be reaffirming said oath to, that could be taken as “extremism” in this climate. I’m not going to quote them here, because those quotes would certainly be considered incendiary, but you can look them up yourself. Jefferson, Addams, Hamilton, Washington, Hancock, Franklin, Paine, et al, had some very extreme things to say.
I fear that they are actually going to CREATE the evil they believe exists. Not to mention creating a group of Zampolit to enforce whatever the currently approved perspective is. Doing this thing will not get rid of the people that think there were shenanigans in this election, but it will drive them underground, and that’s a dangerous thing. People in the open, expressing their disapproval of perceived errors by the government, are people that still believe they can change things through the ballot box and the soapbox. People who have gone underground, on the other hand, become “the resistance.” That’s the mistake that too many governments have made, to their sorrow.
Again, and again, we miss Lehman’s Second Rule of Politics: Never create something when you’re in charge that you would fear having your opponent use on you.
The time to step back from the edge, and reconsider what we’re doing is NOW. It’s NOT TOO LATE to step back, on both sides, and reexamine what is being said, reexamine what your actions are saying, and how the other side will perceive them. But we need to do it NOW. “Once the avalanche starts, it’s too late for the pebbles to vote.” is a line from a science fiction show, but it’s still damn wise advice, it’s also a paraphrase of Voltaire. Let calmer heads prevail, I pray you.
Until next time I remain,
Yours in service.