Friday, January 7, 2011

Institutional Hypocrisy

It is clear that most Americans were disappointed at best and shocked at worst at the videos by Captain Owen Honors, until recently the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The Navy acted quickly this week to relieve him of command and launch an investigation, dealing with the issue at one level.

But questions remain at a deeper level. Some of his supervisors were aware of the offensive videos in 2006 or 2007 and complaints were filed by some sailors in that time frame. Nonetheless, the Navy promoted him and assigned him as the Enterprise commanding officer. But it wasn’t until the issue became public knowledge last week that the institutional Navy sanctimoniously reacted and disciplined Captain Honors.

So which set of cultural norms and standards of discipline and conduct does the institutional Navy adhere to? Why were complaints about the contents of the videos by some offended crew members (as acknowledged on film by Captain Honors) not pursued by those in charge? Where were the Chaplains, JAGs, and Equal Opportunity Officers on board? Does this flip flop of reactions by the Navy indicate a clear disconnect in values between the U.S. military and the people of the nation it protects and serves. Finally, and most fundamentally, does the Navy condone this type of behavior by its “leaders” unless it becomes public knowledge?

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