Monday, December 2, 2013

Karl Marx and the US Air Force Academy

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."  This is a famous Marx quote but could apply quite well to the US Air Force Academy.  I have posted far more often about the USAFA than the other military academies.  

A sample from google

Why is that?  Is the USAFA more flawed, more worthy of scorn and criticism than the others?  Probably, but to be honest, it is probably because I visited USAFA more recently than Annapolis and have never been to West Point.  

When I visited the USAFA in the early Aughts, it was part of an academic outreach program all three military academies had (have?) where they brought in undergrads from around the country to have discussions about some key topic and also brought in some random academics to moderate some of the discussions.   What struck me most strongly was that I felt like I was at a religious university, as the environment seemed to be quite ... Evangelical.  I had flashbacks to my time in Lubbock, where I felt like an outsider since I did not follow a particular brand of Christianity.  The symbols (especially the extravagant chapel) and the discourse all made it apparent that this one public, academic institution had been pretty much taken over by those with a sectarian view of the institution's role in the U.S.  Which disturbed me utterly.  

Of all the Amendments to the Constitution, the first is the most important, I think, as it creates boundaries that restrict how much the government can be captured by some groups to be used against others.  Freedom of speech, freedom of the press are basic fundamental requirements for democracy.  But so is keeping religion out of the government.  As a scholar of ethnic politics, I understand only too well how dangerous it is for religious groups to impose their views on the rest of their society.  When we have a military educational institution doing pretty much that to its students, then we have trouble, big trouble.

I guess I have a heap of schadenfreude about USAFA troubles.  An institution that tends to use "Jesus as crazy glue"? The Academy is largely captured by those who seem to be holier than thou yet is this corrupt?  That tends to demonstrate the wisdom of our founders--that religion is not a guarantee for higher morality.  Indeed, those who try to extend domination of one religion are far more corrupt and problematic.

So, what is the latest news out of the academy that has gotten my ire and fire?  To combat its sexual assault problems and other challenges, the USAFA academy apparently persuaded (coerced?) students to become informants and thus violate the code of conduct that I once mocked.  Read the story--it is appalling.  What is perhaps the worst part about it?  How the leadership of the institution and of the US Air Force run away from responsibility?  Well, perhaps it makes sense since Sergeant Schultz was in the Luftwaffe, right?  So, "I know nothing, I hear nothing" is probably a universal Air Force mantra?  The institution is not even responding to a Senator's inquiries, but I guess we should be used to the institution ignoring its overseers (see point three).

Perhaps we should follow Robert Farley's advice and just get rid of the entire service?  Sure, that seems extreme, but given how broken the USAFA is and that the USAFA is the building block for the entire officer corps of the US Air Force, it suggests (as the Chief of Staff's denial indicates) that the service is rotten to the core.  If we cannot disband the Air Force, we might want to consider getting rid of the USAF Academy and selling off its assets to the local religious organizations.  I cannot think of a worse place in the US to train the next generation of leaders of the US Air Force than the US Air Force Academy.

1 comment:

SamStanton said...

The USAF OSI (Office of Special Investigation) is not the USAFA. The OSI ran the informants without the knowledge of the USAFA. So, how does this make the USAFA culpable?