The Status of the Debate on Leadership and Ethics
at the U.S. Naval Academy
Gerald L. Atkinson
4 July 2001
There has been a shocking new turn of events concerning the debate. As the nation and ‘watchers’ of the new ‘ethics’ program at the Academy descended into hopeful hibernation in the aftermath of the year-2000 presidential election, the politically correct civilian faculty appointed by political operatives of the Clinton administration have been hard at work. The initiatives that were undertaken in implementing a New Age ‘ethics’ program at the Academy are being cemented in the wake of a timid and unaware Bush presidency. The Bush administration appears to believe that it has too little political capital to expend on ‘reforming’ the U.S. military (that is, de-feminizing the military), much less the Academy’s ‘ethics’ program.
In this vacuum, we find that the civilian ‘foot soldiers’ of the ‘cultural Marxist’ revolutionaries are boldly marching to their own drummer. As is reported in detail on this Web Site, we now have ‘shadow’ de-facto Distinguished Chairs of Radical Studies; including the Peter Singer Chair of Ethics, The Toni Morrison Chair of Race and Gender Studies, The Jane Fonda Chair of Anti-Vietnam War Studies, and The General Chair of Secular Humanism Studies — all under the cover of the New Age ‘ethics’ program and within the Department of English, Law and Ethics at the Academy. The Academy Alumni are being solicited to donate to a unified Foundation to the tune of $175 million — funds which could well be used to render these ‘shadow’ de-facto Distinguished Chairs and Critical Studies Programs a funded reality.
The public and private 'debate' on the subject of the 'Leadership and Ethics' program at the U.S. Naval Academy has entered a new stage. The previous stage is summarized in the essay on this Web Site at the Secular Humanism link. I have in the past identified this as part of a ‘cultural Marxist’ revolution — a continuation of the elite Boomers’ counter-culture revolution of the mid-1960s and 1970s. This label is nothing more than an accurate re-labeling of the term, 'political correctness,' which you have seen from my writings are one and the same thing.
The previous stage saw the Academy administration spend seven months of attempting to shut down the public criticism of their new 'ethics' program, after which they were finally forced to answer their critics in public. But this did not happen until after they went to a full court press to quell the growing number of alumni critics of the program. They sent senior department heads out with a dog-and-pony show defending their program. The questions they received from the RESISTERS in their audience must have raised concern that they could not 'white wash' what was actually going on at the Academy.
The debate has been carried out publicly in the FORUM section of the Sunday Washington Times. As of this date, there have been over 13 commentaries on the subject -- pro and con. But mostly con because the Academy refused to enter the debate in public. These commentaries are available for your review and downloading on this Web Site at the link (above) titled, 'Newspaper Articles.'
But then several events occurred that spurred the Academy to 'go public' in its defense. First, RADM C.A. Hill, Jr., USN (Ret.), USNA class of 1944 published on the Internet and in a national magazine, a blistering critique of the New Age 'ethics' program. This WWII 'warrior' was a submarine officer whose boat had experienced every one of the harrowing experiences depicted in the German movie, 'Das Boot,' and survived. He became a naval aviator and rose to command the USS Independence during the Cold War.
RADM Hill reminded us of the sound basis for the traditional ethics training conducted at the Academy in the past. His commentary is a solid argument based on his WWII combat experience and the subsequent degradation, slowly but surely, of the importance of military training, including military ethics based on the foundations set by our Founding Fathers, at the Academy over the past several decades.
Second, RADM Ned Hogan, USN (Ret.), a carrier naval aviator who has commanded the Naval Air Test Center, went public with his criticism of the new 'ethics' program at the Academy with an article in the FORUM, 'Ethics and the next century's navy.' He said, "The feminists are winning the battle in partnership with the Navy's leadership and have gained their near-term objectives. They have created an environment ripe for disaster should a war at sea occur."
Third, the President of a major Regional Chapter of the Alumni Association presented a written critique of the new 'ethics' program at the 3 December meeting of the entire Board of Trustees in Annapolis. Immediately thereafter, he resigned his presidency (for personal and business reasons).
During all of this, Navy officials tried to stem the tide. An Academy emissary contacted me in an attempt to 'schmooze' a common understanding. His approach was to insist that they were doing a good job of teaching 'ethics' but that they just can't seem to 'get the word out.' When informed of Dr. Nancy Sherman's claim that the Navy's 'ethics,' based on tradition, was the cause of the evils visited on the Academy (car theft rings, drug use, child abuse, cheating on exams, etc.), as publicized in the Boston Globe (8/22/99), he had only praise for her efforts there. Of course, Dr. Sherman was the 'change agent' assigned to 'reform' the Academy's 'ethics' and 'change the souls' of the Midshipmen -- the source of the 'cultural Marxist' conversion being carried out there. Right under the eyes of complacent, unknowing, and/or complicit naval officers at the Academy and in the retired alumni community.
In the face of this rising tide of criticism, the Academy finally responded publicly. It published an article in the U.S. Naval Institute 'Proceedings,' which defended their new Leadership and Ethics program. This article, by CAPT Mark N. Clemente, US Navy, is entitled, 'Why We Teach Leadership and Ethics at the Naval Academy.' This well written and well 'scrubbed' article pays homage to Dr. Nancy Sherman and leans heavily on the heroism of ADM James Stockdale in the defense of their program.
Immediately after CAPT Clemente’s defense in the ’Proceedings,’ a very senior WWII and Cold War flag-rank 'warrior' wrote and submitted a gentle rebuttal, dealing fairly with both sides of the debate. Due to his stature and universal respect for his record, it was expected that his answering critique would most likely be published in the 'Proceedings.' But after interminable editorial reviews, stalling interviews with Academy officials, and a full-court-press by the USNA Alumni Association to limit, stifle and smother debate — especially any PUBLIC debate, this retired flag-rank officer withdrew his submittal. Shouldn’t we wonder why?
So, the debate has finally gone national -- even if confined only to a one-sided parochial Academy defense of its New Age ‘ethics’ program in a prominent 'military' journal. This one-sided view of the debate has wrapped itself around the heroism of ADM James Stockdale, USN (Ret.) and his experience as a prisoner of war (POW) during the Vietnam War. See the Jul/Aug 2000 and October 2000 issue of Shipmate magazine to see this campaign. Obviously, few naval officers would dare to question such an authority on ‘ethics’ as ADM Stockdale, given his exemplary leadership and behavior while residing in the ‘Hanoi Hilton.’ After all, he is a true national hero, having been awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism there.
But ADM Stockdale’s view that Epictetus, the stoic Roman slave and philosopher is the model for our nation’s premiere military officer training and education is fatally flawed. While this model may be just right for SOME under conditions of domination by a brutal and ruthless ruler or prison environment, it is not the best foundation for the moral and ethical training of our nation’s core combat leadership, its WARRIORS who must be trained and educated, including their moral and ethical training, to WIN our nation’s wars.
The ancient stoics served well enough, thank you, as the predecessor of the great Christian martyrs, but in this present age Christianity has provided an even stronger foundation for our nation’s moral character. In fact, many of ADM Stockdale’s fellow resisters in the Hanoi Hilton have publicly stated that Christianity and a firm belief in God was their means of coping with the torture, starvation, and brutal treatment by their North Vietnamese captors. One very faithful believer in and follower of ADM Stockdale during those awful days in captivity told me that he had never once heard of the stoics nor of Epictetus nor of the philosophy that ADM Stockdale has promoted at the Academy and at the Newport War College since until after having been home for several years and hearing ADM Stockdale give a lecture on his personal beliefs. Obviously, what carried ADM Stockdale through those terrible personal situations as a POW did NOT serve others in the same circumstances. Christianity, the foundation of our nation’s secular documents and structure served that purpose without the frills of knowledge of the ancient philosophers. Christianity was sufficient, thank you very much.
My objective is to force this into a wider national audience, including Congress and the general public. It is a very important debate. It is a vital debate. It is imperative that it become a national debate in every dimension -- including the civilian political leadership.
This debate is a microcosm of the wider debate on the direction our nation is taking as a result of the agenda being imposed on us by the power elites of the Boomer generation. Bill and Hillary Clinton are only the public icons of this power elite. They are the five to eight million counter-culture revolutionaries who took over by force the university campuses in their young adulthood in the mid-1960s, dodged the draft, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, set the stage for major societal disfunction by their appeals to sexual liberation of women, and organized the alien concept of 'welfare rights.' They are now in positions of power, as is natural for each generation in its turn, in every institution in America.
That is why this debate on the 'Leadership and Ethics' at the U.S. Naval Academy is so important. It is only a small shred of what is going on at all our premiere military academies, indeed, in our entire military establishment. And, if truth be told, in our whole American culture.
I am not the only RESISTER of this agenda. But I am one of only a few who have attacked its most fundamental military aspect -- the education and training of our nation's core combat naval leadership. Our military establishment is the last American institution to come under attack by the New Age radicals. All other American institutions have been undermined during the past 30 years. Our military is the only institution which has not 'folded,' until now. Each of us RESISTERS fights this agenda in some such aspect. In the whole, we are RESISTING over a broad spectrum of this fight -- a fight for the survival of our American civilization.
I started this crusade in early 1993 when I joined a small group of retired military officers who met every Tuesday at the Sonny Montgomery National Guard building and who, under the leadership of ADM Thomas H. Moorer, USN (Ret.) blunted the thrust of Clinton's attempt to open the military to homosexuals. We didn't win this fight, but we at least stemmed the tide of his radical agenda. But then the attack broadened in scope and delved deeper into the innards of our nation's military culture. The radical feminists in the Clinton administration and Congress forced the politicians to open many combat positions to women. This has degraded effectiveness, introduced tensions and invited concomitant new disciplinary problems, destroyed morale, and led to a mass exodus of the 'warriors' who voted on this socialization program with their feet.
This Web Site contains materials which attempt to explain this attack on our military institutions -- as part of a broad attack on American culture, indeed our entire civilization. This Web Site exhibits a pattern of 'explanation' of what is going on in our Armed Forces, who is doing it, and where it comes from. The full story will shock you, and hopefully, awaken you to the danger that looms.
We have time, but not an abundance of it. We have started late and the 'enemy' is ahead. But we are beginning to make headway in this battle -- bit by precious bit. We are in the 'education' business. This Web Site is a small beginning in the fight to 'get the word out.'