By: Scott Sturman, M.D. & Joe Arbuckle, Major General USA (ret)
There is a public awareness of the detrimental and destructive nature of Critical Race Theory and its stepchild Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The philosophies are nihilistic, divisive, and meant to foment hate and separatism. For the past ten years United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) has been immersed in DEI programming. What are the results?
From 2017-2018 six permanent professors, including a department chairman, resigned from USAFA. The timing, circumstances, and reasons are unknown, but in a statement published last week all of the professors pointed to sweeping cultural changes at USAFA. In the open letter they detail the actions of the Dean of Academics, who was disdainful of the Honor Code and averse to academic excellence. The dean developed academic courses of low expectations to adapt to the scholastic aptitude of intercollegiate athletes. An atmosphere of intimidation silenced full professors, as the dean transferred power and influence to civilian faculty members. The degradation of the academic experience is so complete that the professors wonder if recovery is possible.
As academics falter, DEI is ascendant. The placement of political officers within the ranks of the armed forces is ubiquitous in totalitarian cultures, where anonymous accusations, psychological pressure, and propaganda are employed to exact complete compliance. The potential for abuse of power and intimidation cannot be overstated. Diversity and Inclusion Representatives have been installed in all cadet squadrons, and they report parallel and outside the military chain of command to the academy’s DEI Chief, Dr. Joseph Looney. Looney, a psychologist and counselor by training, earned his Diversity and Inclusion certificate from Cornell University, an institution that has been criticized for its “outstanding perversion of academic values.”
The case of White Boy #2 illustrates the infringement of one’s human rights when academics and DEI collide. Casandra Benson, a Cornell University graduate, teaches economics at USAFA. In a lecture given in January 2023, Professor Benson addressed minority cadets by their proper names but declined to do so when calling on white male cadets. She glibly announced that since all white people look alike, she would refer to them by number. One young man was christened White Boy #2, much to the mortification of the cadets in the class. But Professor Benson continued directing verbal assaults at her victim, whose only crime was to be the recipient of his parents’ genes. Professor Benson’s actions were reported, but the academy declined to comment on her employment status. Given Professor Benson’s antics and Dr. Looney’s immense power, the link between Cornell University and USAFA is alarming.
In June 2023 Brig. General Gavin Marks was appointed USAFA Commandant of Cadets and vowed to change the culture at USAFA. He has failed to define what is wrong with the culture, how he intends to change it, or the objective in doing so. He has stated that nothing erodes trust and performance faster than disrespecting the dignity of your teammates. But dignity is an illusory construct—an unquantifiable goal that has no measurable outcome. How will it be leveraged to further his passionate commitment to DEI, a program that has so far prioritized diversity of identity over diversity of opinion?
General Marks has on occasion in public given the black power salute while in uniform. His intentions are concerning, difficult to interpret, and elicit strong emotions. In the aftermath of the football team’s coaching staff’s production of a social media video supporting Black Lives Matter and the team’s historical connections to large-scale Honor Code scandals involving cheating on examinations, Marks’ gestures and comments provide further evidence of DEI’s preeminence at USAFA.