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How Can Woke Warriors Command An Unsurpassed Fighting Force?

Strong leaders are not intimidated by woke ideology.

December 5, 2022


If there was any doubt about where today’s military leaders stand on the woke agenda, Admiral Michael Gilday cleared it up in his recent congressional testimony. Rep. Jim Banks was asking the admiral about the suitability of a particular book on the Navy’s recommended reading list. Among the outrageous claims in the book, the author argues that our country and our military are fundamentally racist. Banks asked the admiral how that book and its presumption of systemic racism contribute in any way to morale and cohesion in our military forces.

Gilday responded: “I do know this: Our strength is in our diversity…”

It was the kind of response we might expect from a Miss America contender, nervously trying to explain why America is so great. Coming from a senior naval officer - the chief of naval operations - it was both astonishing and unnerving.

It was the kind of meaningless pablum liberals toss around to justify quota systems, discriminatory college admissions, and open borders. It’s never followed up with an explanation of just how diversity strengthens anything – especially our armed forces.  

Most Americans abhor racism, and they welcome diversity in the workforce. But left-wing idealogues have become obsessed with it. They’ve managed to link racial imbalance to the illegal practice of discrimination. The fact is, the two are not necessarily connected. The vast majority of players in the NFL, for example, are people of color. 

When leaders succumb to unwarranted pressure to diversify their workforce, time-honored guidelines and standards are inevitably waived or eliminated, and the organizations they lead become weaker, not stronger. 

No organization can maximize its potential if it aims to artificially create a workforce that matches the make-up of our society at large. By focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s too easy to overlook the most competent, the brightest, and the most dedicated people - the ones who truly strengthen any given organization.

We would expect that our commercial airline pilots, our surgeons, and others who hold human life in their hands were chosen for those positions because of their competence, and not because they filled a quota. So how does it strengthen our military if the men and women tasked with keeping America safe are selected and promoted for that reason – simply to make our military more diverse?     

People like Gilday probably believe they’re on the right side. They see themselves as social justice warriors, crusaders against racism. But racist, anti-American literature, like the book Gilday was defending, does nothing to promote racial harmony or bolster morale or military cohesion. Writing like that stimulates, propagates, and perpetuates racial animus. And, unfortunately, woke gibberish, even when spoken by naval officers, can’t eliminate those residual, isolated cases of racism that still exist in our society. 

Besides, woke warriors are never satisfied. Their goalposts keep moving, and their demands for diversity are never satiated. They’re always looking for another minority or special interest group that feels under-appreciated, demanding their seat at the table. Under the banner of diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s only a matter of time before more trendsetters like Rachel Levine are vying for Gilday’s position.    

It’s safe to say that most Americans watching Admiral Gilday’s testimony would have felt more confident in his leadership IF he had told Rep. Banks that: “Racism is wrong. Critical race theory is wrong. Our strength is in our people – the very best, most dedicated people we can find – regardless of race, creed, or gender.” 

Gilday is not the only senior military officer who chose to carry the woke guidon. During a congressional hearing, General Mark Miley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he wanted to better understand white rage. Like the term, white guilt, it’s another feel-bad expression introduced by woke warriors, intended to inflict shame on innocent Americans who have long ago embraced the Civil Rights Act and the concept of racial equality. Miley’s confusion over the new terminology is clear. He seemed to think that white rage had something to do with the January 6th incident at the Capitol.   

In the best-case scenario, these military commanders haven’t really bought into the woke propaganda they’re spewing. If we’re lucky, they’re just kowtowing to a Commander-in-Chief who clearly has. Perhaps when Joe Biden leaves office, he’ll take his woke ideology with him, and our military leaders will experience a Colonel Nicholson moment, slapping their foreheads while muttering, “What have I done?”

It might help them to look back to the words attributed to an undisputed leader in history, Alexander the Great: “I am not afraid of an Army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of sheep led by a lion.”

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.