On 30-31 August 2023, LTG Steven Gilland’s West Point hosted the 20th Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference. The conference, with nearly 400 attendees, featured cadets from the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), US Coast Guard Academy, and West Point as well as US Army officers, US Air Force officers, West Point faculty, civilian university professors, Department of the Army staff, VA staff, NASA staff, and professional DEI speakers.
In July 2023, Judicial Watch won a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain evidence that the US Air Force Academy was teaching Critical Race Theory at USAFA. USAFA had previously refused to disclose the documents. Judicial Watch posted 478 pages showing CRT instruction at USAFA on its website.[i] Later in July, USAFA Superintendent LtGen Richard Clark testified in front of Congress regarding Congressional concerns for Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught at USAFA. Congressman Mike Waltz pressed Clark and the other two academy superintendents regarding race-based admissions and other DEI issues. LtGen Clark continued to deny CRT indoctrination and defended USAFA guest speaker Dr Eddie Glaude who had once written, “We’re in the midst of another betrayal. Every reckoning in the United States historically has carried with it betrayal. At every moment in which a new America is on the verge of being reborn, the umbilical cord of white supremacy has been wrapped around the baby’s neck, choking the life out of it.” VADM Buck (USNA Superintendent) could not provide research evidence of military DEI effectiveness when asked.
Numerous speakers at the 2023 USMA DEI Conference including LTG Steven Gilland (West Point Supe) discussed the July 2023 Congressional proceedings that questioned all three service academy superintendents. Their statements were defensive and expressed annoyance at the hearings. The conference consisted of a series of lectures about DEI. One lecture (The Future of College Admissions [after the 2023 SCOTUS ruling that struck down affirmative action]) had two guest speakers, Professor Ben Barton, Distinguished Professor of Law, The University of Tennessee, College of Law, Knoxville and Dean Miriam Ingber, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Yale Law School. At the end of the remarks by the two speakers, the audience was invited to ask questions of the guest speakers. USAFA Cadet C2C Aidan Dougherty went to the microphone and had the following exchange with one of the speakers.
C2C Dougherty: Hello, I’m C2C Aidan Dougherty from the United States Air Force Academy. So, this question is adjacent to the topic of this panel, but I believe that as your careers are in education and in law, you are the right people to ask. So, the United States Air Force Academy has a Diversity and Inclusion Minor that teaches classes on gender, race, and nationalism in the class, and these teachings have been incredibly controversial across the US with an outright ban in Florida and the Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy being questioned for it in Congress and the video going viral. Can cadets and service academies safeguard the teachings of these topics, or, if we get a particularly bad batch of Congressmen, are these teachings like screwed.
<Conference erupts in laughter including USA and USAF officers from 2LT to Colonel. None were seen to correct or approach the cadet after his comments.>
Dean Meriam Ingber, Yale Law School: Is that the official term?
The cadet comments may have violated UCMJ. While he generally refers to Congress, his mention of the Congressional testimony indicates his criticism may have been specifically directed at Congressman Mike Waltz who led most of the questioning in Congress. The West Point Public Affairs did not respond when contacted for comment on the USAFA cadet’s statement.
John Hughes, MD, is a writer on medical and military matters. He is a 1996 West Point graduate, veteran of Haiti/Iraq/Afghanistan, and is a practicing Emergency Physician. He is a contributor to CDMedia and Armed Forces Press, has been featured in Real Clear Defense, Washington Examiner, and American Thinker, and has been a medical expert for Epoch Times. He is a leader in the MacArthur Society of West Point Graduates and a member of STARRS.US.