The writer is a retired senior Foreign Service Officer who spent 25 years with the State Department as a science/economics officer. She is Asian-American. She feels strongly that our foreign affairs challenges require that we select the best individuals--at all levels--regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, or any other nonprofessional characteristic. --Ed.
COMMENT ON: Selecting a New Secretary of State--Does Being a White Male Disqualify You Automatically?
From: Teresa Chin Jones, Ph.D., FSO (ret.)
Have we gone so far in being Politically Correct that White and Male are now practically disqualifications for serving as Secretary of State?
I have always had a firm belief that "condescension" for some poor disadvantaged soul can be much more insulting than outright opposition--which usually tends to show your bigotry rather than their failure. If I am disliked or liked--I want it to be for myself and not my gender, my race, or my religion. The corollary is that I want to have earned my successes even if I have to take it on the chin for my gaffes and to have my "racial identity" be an irrelevant factor.
By the time the next Secretary is installed, it will have been 12 years and the tenures of three Secretaries of State since the last white male held the position. With each succeeding secretary, the incumbent president has attempted to "prove" something--to deliver a politico-social "message" about the United States, about U.S. foreign policy, about representative-inclusiveness. Thus we have had the "first" woman; the "first" African-American; the "first" African-American woman.
But this approach isn't foreign policy; this is central casting. And it leads to the question of the forthcoming Secretary of State.
What is next on the social/cultural personnel agenda for State? The first Hispanic (male or female)? The first Asian-American (male or female)? The first "differently abled" Secretary of State? The first Clinton?
So far as diversity is concerned, the Department of State has proved its point. Currently, approximately 28 percent of State's Civil Service/Foreign Service complement consists of minorities; almost 17 percent are African American. In 2008 Black Collegian listed State as a "preferred employer among diverse audiences"--the only government agency listed in the top 100 (and rated 11th). What more is required? Are we seeking "reserved" positions or never-mention-the-word "quotas" or set-asides for each group and...