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Race and the Armed Forces
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We heard from some Democrats in the days leading up to the war, and its a fairly common trope, that our armed forces are populated with minorities and poor whites. Here's a snippet of an interview with New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was talking about reinstituting the draft not long ago, so that representation in the armed forces would presumably be more fair:

Rep. RANGEL: They're patriots in terms of wanting to be out there in response to an emergency. But they're also people in the reservists, people in the National Guards that's being called upon...

PRESSMAN: Mainly minority people...

Rep. RANGEL: Mainly...

PRESSMAN: ...African-Americans and Latinos.

Rep. RANGEL: Yes, and poor whites. I got a call from Senator Fritz Hollings. He said, `What about my rednecks? They out catching hell. They're being called two and three times.' These are people from Southern rural states. Take a look at the backgrounds of the people that were killed in this war.

Okay, Charlie...let's do just that.

Here is the article from Time magazine, naming The American Soldier as Time's Person of the Year:

It is worth remembering that our pilots and sailors and soldiers are, for starters, all volunteers, in contrast to most nations, which conscript those who serve in their armed forces. Ours are serving in 146 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The 1.4 million men and women on active duty make up the most diverse military in our history, and yet it is not exactly a mirror of the country it defends. It is better educated than the general population and overweighted with working-class kids and minorities. About 40% of the troops are Southern, 60% are white, 22% are black, and a disproportionate number come from empty states like Montana and Wyoming.

Notice that they remark that 40% of the troops are Southern, but they are "better educated than the general population". Okay. So if they're rednecks, they don't appear, in general, to be stupid rednecks.

And what about the racial makeup?

The armed forces are:

60% white
22% black

The general population is:

about 76% white
about 12.5% black

Is this a gross mismatch? Time says that our armed forces "don't exactly match" our general demographics, but's it's not that far off, is it?

The really ugly implication in the comments like Rangel's is that our armed forces are made up of people who are being taken advantage of, that they're either too stupid to realize what they're signing up for, or too poor and desperate to make any other choice. And that implication is both stupid and degrading.

In fact, some of the same people that make these sort of implications are the same ones that denigrate politicians or other proponents of military action who haven't served in the military (e.g. calling them "chickenhawks"). So which is it: Military service is an honorable, brave choice made by people of character, or something only poor, stupid people get suckered into?

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