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Our Best: Commander Shanti Sethi

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Shanti Sethi

Commander Sethi smiles for the camera during a press tour of the ship.\ during a port call in India.

America is truly a wonderful country. Where else would you find a female Navy officer from Reno, Nevada, commanding the destroyer USS Decatur? Did I mention that she is of South Asian origin? Oh, and let us not forget that she is a graduate of the nation’s oldest private military academy, Norwich.

Commander Shanti Sethi joined the U.S. Navy in 1994. She has worked her way up, serving in various positions at sea and on shore.

In mid March, her ship made a port call in Chennai, India. The Indian media were quick to recognize the success of a daughter of their nation and the visit received a great deal of publicity.

The Decatur has a Facebook page.

Commander Sethi blogs at a site called Adventures in Paradise. Her Twitter account is @ShantiRae.

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  1. Reread the comments. People who have worked with her have told us she is more than qualified for the post. Please set aside your bigotry and recognize that women are also contributing to the defense of the United States and many do so in ways that exceed many of their male compatriots. This category “Our Best” is dedicated to showcasing the women of the U.S. military and the good work they are doing every day.

  2. Most likely she is just one more affirmative action baby. Its no secret that from the federal level to the local level ALL areas of government have had AA policies for many decades.

    Military quotas for promotions of minorities and women have existed for decades. The military is absolutely RIFE with political correctness. Take a look at Major Hassan for instance. I wonder how many better qualified white men were discriminated against/passed over for promotion time and time again so “Commander” Sethi could make feminists/women feel all warm and fuzzy. I have no good patriotic or good thoughts about this at all as its just one more symptom of the PC/liberal sickness that is rotting out many of our great institutions.

  3. Congrats Commander. I served with Oilking Jim on DDG-31 from 67 to 71. I know you will continue to have the Decatur serve us proud. Jerry, Jefferson City, Missouri

  4. “But I get the feeling you might have a problem with that, too.”

    It’s always been interesting to me how liberals can draw a conclusion from someone’s words that directly contradicts what those words clearly say.

    “and it’s increasingly being used by Americans not of Indian descent.”

    I would be _extremely_ interested in seeing some specific statistical data, broken down along national origin, to this effect.

    I will state up front that I do not believe such data, supporting your claim, exists. 

    As for “importing” the other names by immigrants, this is another deliberately false statement.  It was not an import because those names were part of the existing culture of the first dozen or so generations to live in and create the fabric of this society.  They did not pick and choose among cultures, they took what they had from their parents and continued it.  That is what formed the basic nature of the initial American culture and people up until first the Irish immigration (which was however still from the British isles) and then from other parts of Europe in the late 19th century, and what they fought wars to set upon a firm foundation.  “Import” is, again, bringing something form elsewhere to a place that already exists.  There were no pre-existing settlements and folkways to “import” such things as names into, it was the default.  It didn’t occur to them that they should be picking and choosing national identities; they had one already, they were quite satisfied with it – and they were convinced it was the best in the world.

  5. “Colonists are not immigrants. Colonists built this country. Immigrants came to a country that already existed.”

    This is inane. The American colonists formed a pre-Industrial Revolution, 13-state nation clinging to the Eastern seaboard. Today’s America – the most powerful nation that has ever existed – was built by both the descendants of those colonists and immigrants.

    As for tomorrow’s America, most of our future engineers and scientists will be of Indian and Chinese descent, since the descendants of those colonists increasingly turn away from science and technology.

    “Why did these two Indian immigrants marry another Indian, instead of an American?”

    Some don’t. The Indians are a fairly new immigrant presence in the US, and the second and third generations are, in fact, increasingly marrying non-Indians in the US.

    But I get the feeling you might have a problem with that, too.

    “Why did they name their daughter Shanti instead of Susan or Jennifer?”

    Because Shanti is a perfectly acceptable American name – and it’s increasingly being used by Americans not of Indian descent. “Susan” and “Jennifer” weren’t names created in America – they were imported by immigrants. Now, so is “Shanti”.

  6. Moe Lane: Spend a little time outside the rah-rah right-liberal echo chamber, you might be surprised to find that rational people can have opinions different from yours.

    Chuck: You are deliberately and dishonestly conflating two very different things. Colonists are not immigrants. Colonists built this country. Immigrants came to a country that already existed. The switchover from primarily colonists to primarily immigrants happened in the latter half of the 19th century, and prior to then, what immigrants that were coming were primarily of the same ethnic nature as the people already present. This “we’re all immigrants” is one of the more common liberal lies and it is high time it was retired.

    Shanti’s Mom: Thank you for your clarifications regarding her birth. You have put your finger on the fundamental issue here: what IS an American? Is it “anybody in the world who wants to get here and does”? Is it “anybody who happens to be born in the right geographical area”? Is it “anybody with citizenship papers”? If we pass an amnesty, does that immediately turn all the Mexican illegals into Americans, and make their barrios and shantytowns American normal, and make Spanish a mainstream American language? Would the people who created this country “for ourselves and our posterity” agree with that outcome? Is a third-generation Muslim Arab in the housing projects of Paris or London a Frenchman or an Englishman?

    It is certainly possible for immigrant peoples to become American, to mix into and disappear in the broader population. An immigrant marries a native, their children marry other natives, by the third generation the results are indistinguishably American. This is what happens with French, or Russians, or Swedes who come here. It is precisely what is not happening with other groups. Why did these two Indian immigrants marry another Indian, instead of an American? Why did they name their daughter Shanti instead of Susan or Jennifer? Obviously because they LIKE being Indian. It is their identity, they want to retain it. They chose to remain Indian, rather than become American – but they still want the papers and benefits of being American. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

    The liberal answer at this point is that OF COURSE they can still be Indian while also being American, because the two don’t conflict. Because being an Indian – or a Mexican, or Vietnamese, or Nigerian – applies only on levels that American identity does not. And this is only possible when American national identity, as such, doesn’t exist.

  7. Rollory
    1) it sounds like you are a birther
    2) it sounds like you are a misogynist
    3) it sounds like you were passed over for promotion
    4) maybe by a female?
    5) it looks like you missed the post from the Cdr’s mother.
    6) the only nonsense is emanating from you

  8. I thank Sethi-ji for her service to our country. If she were my daughter I would be bursting with pride – congratulations!

  9. Affirmative action stigmatizes the competent because observers can no longer assume that people have achieved their status by being appraised for promotion on the basis of merit. Look at Shuttle Astronaut, Lisa Nowak’s rocket ride up the career ladder via affirmative action.

    Commander Shanti Sethi is a woman and a person who belongs to a racial group which is a minority in the US and especially so in the military. The presence of outreach programs designed to promote such people put Commander Shanti Sethi in an awkward position. Either she is the beneficiary of favoritism or she is not. If she is, the the skepticism of her competence and rise to rank are warranted. If she did not benefit from these programs then the skepticism is unwarranted and unfair to her. The public can accept one of two default assumptions – AA-type policies do not advance less meritorious people or they do. If these policies did not give a boost to people of lessor merit then they’d be completely unnecessary but they do in fact exist, therefore it is quite defensible to presume that some of the people who are promoted were promoted over more qualified people.

    It’s not out of line to wonder whether dual standards have worked to the benefit of Commander Shanti Sethi.

    The solution to the problem of stigmatizing the competent is to do away with programs which advance the relatively incompetent.

  10. So pointing out that there is nearly zero evidence of female exceptionalism in military history is the same as pointing out that whenever two men fight one man loses?

    Yeah, I must be the idiot because that logic of yours goes right over my head.

  11. It is not a stupid question to ask “How many ship battles were won by women”. Yes, until recently they could not be. Why is that? If women are such awesome warrors and warship captains, how could men possibly keep them down?

    Is is discrimination or natural selection? Very few women are interested in war and warfighting, and they don’t have the psychological makeup for it. How do we know? Look at every army in the world in all of world history. For every Joan of Arc, we have thousands of General Pattons. Turn on Band of Brothers the next time you are in a room full of women and men- the different reactions are real, and real telling.

  12. Once again….the US Navy rocks!

  13. Thank you Chuck.

    Shanti was honored to be on the first crew of the USS Hopper (DDG 70), named for Adm. Grace Hopper. She was the navigator when the Hopper steamed into San Francisco Bay for the commissioning of the ship. How awesome to watch a ship “brought to life”. It brought tears to my eyes and made me proud to be an American.

  14. Thank you for taking the time to visit this site. I appreciate your comments, and hope they will kill off the thread about your daughter’s ethnicity.

    All my ancestors were immigrants to America, though some were here in 1640. Most of the rest of you qualify as newcomers, so quit fussing about the subject.

    My lovely wife also chooses to remind you all of Admiral Grace Hopper, a female officer that made great contribution to the U.S. and the Navy.

  15. I guess I should add that I was born a U.S. citizen and her father, originally from India, was also a U.S. citizen.

  16. Please allow me to clarify one thing:

    After 33 hours of hard labor at St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno, NV, I can attest to the fact that Commander Shanti R. Sethi was, in fact, born a U.S. citizen.

    Both of my children were raised to believe that they could do/be anything they wanted to be if they were willing to work hard for it. Shanti and her brother both took that to heart and have worked hard to be successful in life.

    I find it very sad that people who have never met her would assume that she didn’t earn her rank and position. Be thankful that people like her are willing to risk everything for the freedom we oft times take for granted.

  17. Actually, Rollory has a good point though he has presented it in such an inflammatory way as to make me suspect trolling.

    I dearly hope Commander Sethi is fully qualified for command for the sake of her ship and our country. However, the navy has promoted unqualified women in the past for political reasons which unfortunately tarnishes all women in the Navy who have high profile positions. It’s incredibly unfair to them but it’s the PC nutjobs who are to blame.

  18. Yeah, but Smarty, just think of all the thousands upon thousands of sea battles that have been LOST by MEN. It has to be near 50% of them! Clearly, men are not qualified to be warship COs.


  19. Awesome!! I served aboard DDG-31 for my four-year stint. And I am from Decatur, Texas. Go, Commander!!!


  20. Smarty. I oppose affirmative action as well, and beleive promotion should be based strictly on merit. But I think you go too far in automatically making the assumption she is unqualified.
    Despite the examples you cited, the US military has a pretty good track record of promoting based on merit. They desegrated, and promoted blacks based on merit before it was popular.
    And they were often criticised by liberals when they continued to promote based on merit, even after affirmative action demands. In fact, if the comment by Former SRO is true, it sounds like she is qualified.

    As for how many female ship captains won battles, it is a pretty stupid question, since until recently no females could become ship captains. Although there were a few female pirates, like Anne Bonny, who were often more capable than the men they served with.

    To Rollery:
    If she is an American citizen, she is an American. That is one of the main improvements of America over Europe. Our nationality is not based on blood and soil, but on beleiving in the idea of America, and following our constitution. That is why America was able to assimilate millions of immigrants, from all over the world, and turn them into Americans that are just as patriotic and productive as those descended from the Mayflower.

    The only point on which I might agree with nativists like you is in favoring assimilation over multiculturism. You should not become a US citisen, unless you are ready to embrace US culture, and learn our language. That does not mean you must abandon your own, but if the 2 cultures conflict, then you must be willing to let US culture take precedence. All the immigrant groups that succeeded, like Irish, Italians, Asians, etc, did this. Most Hispanics did as well, but with encouragement from some radical hispanic identity groups, some did not, and they are failing because of it.

  21. I’m not, but I have another similar plugin. I’ll check it. Thanks!

  22. Re: your note up top about the hyphen problem – I see your site is created in WordPress. Are you using the Hyphenator plugin? It doesn’t always work right with Chrome. Try disabling it and see if that resolves the problem.

  23. Lord, thank you for America, thank you for your blessings and thank you for not making me carry the heavy burden that Rollory has to shoulder every day. His is a hard life.

  24. That you would have to dig so deep into obscurity to find a female owner (inhereted)of a fleet of cargo and privateer vessals only proves my point.

  25. That’s right. America is unique in that your ethnicity or station of birth does not prevent you from “signing on.” Wanting to be an American, live with predominantly American values, and make America a better place for one’s family and the families of other Americans is unquestionably the most important part of being American.

    God bless you, Commander. Our country needs a few million more Americans like you, whatever their ethnic heritage.


  26. I went to Surface Warfare School with CDR Sethi and she deserves everything she has worked for. Congrats to her and good for the Navy.

  27. How do you know she is qualified? The first female Navy fighter pilot was passed through flight school despite making mistakes in training that both should have disqualified her from graduation and resulted in her slamming her plane into the hull of a carrier.

    And lest we forget, we had an Affirmative Action female Captain Holly Graf get removed from duty who was, by her behavior, clearly unfit to command a rowboat.,8599,1969602,00.html

    I am not saying this woman is unqualified, but in the PC era she must be (sadly) considered highly suspect. This is the unintended consequence of liberalism

  28. When in his­tory has a female Cap­tain won a sea bat­tle?

    Try looking up Ní Mháille, 16th century. Female pirate captain and terror of the Irish coast.

  29. No person gets command of a row boat in the Navy unless they are capable of handling the job.
    This nonsense of not being a “real” American – just what the hell does that mean?
    So what that I am some Midwestern white man whose family was all born here.
    When I was rescued at sea after a serious accident, during some damn stormy weather, the crew of the Navy helicopter that transported me was every color of the rainbow. I couldn’t care less what they looked like and where they were born, because they were all professional and risked their lives to save mine.
    Smooth sailing, Commander Sethi. I’d volunteer to serve with you.

  30. Go, Navy!
    WRS, LTC (Ret.) USAR

  31. I would agree that you do become American by “signing on”. But nothing is less “American” than affirmative action, which gives the newcomers a higher place in social pecking order than the folks who created the country and the culture that welcomed them.

    The US would not be the exceptional country that it is without the WASPs. Newcomers need to adapt to that, not be told that the society created by the WASPs is crap and needs to be replaced by socialism, marxism, islam, secular judaism…..

  32. So the liberals promote minority females in order to provide “affirmative opportunity”, then we go in a circle and use her to show how equal and wonderful minority females are.

    When in history has a female Captain won a sea battle? How do we know she is more qualified than any white male officer of her age group? All we know is that females and minorities get to leapfrog into promotions.

  33. 1. She was born in the States to legal immigrants. How did your family get here?
    2. See reply 1.
    3. If you are a representing yourself as a good example of an “American” then I agree.
    4. STFU you bigoted, knuckle dragging, misogynistic “American” jerk. I guess for guys like you the same can be said of Jewish Americans or Polish Americans. How about Japanese Americans, German Americans or hey, what about those Black Americans?

    I’m personally in the Atilla the Hun sector of the vast right wing conspiracy and a Southerner born and bred. I have voted Repub. for the last 40+ years (with more than a little nose holding) and here I thought we had put you Bedford Forest types out our collective minds, but I see we haven’t.

  34. Some of my ancestors were here in the 1300’s, but that isn’t what makes me an American.

    People become American by signing on.

    Commander Sethi signed on.

    Welcome aboard.

  35. Good for her! Everyone that wears the uniform of the U.S. military is an American no matter where they started out. I’m proud of her.

  36. Rollory- stop being such a douche. Immigrants such as myself are as American as apple pie and football. Oh wait- Apples come from central Asia, so maybe you don’t think they’re so American? Football was originally a form of rugby, so maybe that’s not American either?

    Get over yourself. The Commander is a hero for serving her country- the United States- and is a role model for people from all walks of life on how you can succeed regardless of your gender or ethnicity.

  37. Dude. You are SO being trolled by that fake. 🙂

    Congrats on the Insty link, btw.

  38. Rollory, you ignoramus, she is a native of Reno, Nevada:

    Even if she wasn’t a native of Reno, as a US citizen, she is an American. End of story. Apparently, you have no idea what it means to be an American.

  39. The first comment above smacks of “birtherism”. The Navy commander in question was raised in Reno, and graduated from a US military academy. In what way is she not “American”?

    The second comment nails that point well. Anyone born here is American, even if they have different-color skin. Get used to the “new” America. Or would you prefer the anti-Italian, anti-Catholic riots of the late 19th Century?

  40. Unless your ancestors were in the United States in 1640, I could say the same about you. Immigrants are what made this nation great. The Commander appears to be a hard working woman who has accomplished a great deal in her chosen profession. I think that is worthy of some admiration.

  41. 1) she’s not “from” Reno, she’s from India, as you yourself note the Indians are quick to notice

    2) as she is Indian, she is not American, regardless of what pieces of paper she has

    3) as she is not American, she is not “our” best (although admittedly “American” is ceasing to mean anything at all anymore)

    4) the track record of women in the military is one of exceptional exceptions and generalized ineffectiveness, with double standards to pretend they are generally just as capable as the men, when they very noticeably are not. But admitting this is heresy, and thoroughly unspeakable.

    Only a liberal could have posted a piece of utter nonsense like this.

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