Leadership News

Friday, November 13, 2009

Did Diversity Enable Terror?

General George Casey, Jr., the Army Chief of Staff, on CNN commenting on the possibility of “backlash” against Muslim servicembers said, “It would be a shame, as great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.” While diversity shouldn’t be a casualty, there should be a deep conversation within our military leadership on what diversity is and is not.

Diversity does make organizations stronger. There is significant organizational theory which demonstrates that bringing new and/or different viewpoints into an organization and synthesizing those viewpoints creates a stronger organization. It’s very much like writing a solid academic paper - thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Simply put, by reconciling different cultures, viewpoints and opinions with the mainstream organizational norms and values, the organization is stronger.

However, every viewpoint simply can’t be reconciled. Having people of the mainstream Muslim faith in our military does make the organization stronger. Their points of view are slightly different than their Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters. It is the ability to reconcile these differences that make the Military stronger. As more and more information pours out it is clear that Major Hasan wasn’t just a devout Muslim; he was a Jihadist.

Major Hasan’s apparent Jihadist views are inconsistent with our Democracy and our Military. They can not be reconciled. One of the questions for our Military leaders may be how people in Major Hasan’s chain of command misused the concept of diversity and allowed Hasan to remain in our Army.

Yes, this is America and anyone can say just about anything they want. American’s can hold any viewpoint. But that doesn’t mean we have to let people in our house, our workplaces, or, our Military.

About the Author
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.) is Chair of the Criminal Justice Program at the Union Institute and University and the author of books such as Police Technology and Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style

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