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Too Many White Men in the Military?

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A March 7 Stars and Stripes headline reads, “Report says too many whites, men leading military.” It could just as easily, and factually, have read, “Report says not enough non-whites, women leading military” but that wouldn’t have had quite the punch. Why punch at all?

There are those white military men of power and authority who would do anything to bring back the good old days of white men leading the way, every way, everyday. They do not, however, represent the majority of white military men. The majority of these men lack the power and authority to do much more than get yelled at when a part of their uniform falls out of place.  I’m not saying they’re victims. I’m saying they’re not perpetrators.

Discrimination is not eliminated by downsizing one group, even in favor of another. It doesn’t matter how much room is made by decreasing the size of group A if group B is still held back by archaic policies (e.g.: no women in combat). Dropping seeds of bitterness around and indicating a need to squeeze some people out is every bit as counterproductive as the practice of booting out homosexuals.

It has always been indecent and in many cases, flat-out inhumane, the way some white men have crawled upon and over the careers and opportunities of non-whites and women. It is widely acknowledged that this brutish behavior is unprofessional and criminally wasteful of human resources. Using any approximation of discriminatory behavior doesn’t magically become more professional or less wasteful when applied to white men.

Anti-discriminatory policies that perpetuate discrimination of any kind toward anyone slow the process of maximizing every service member’s potential and should rightly be called what they are: discrimination.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Red Blooded American

    Discrimination IS downsizing one group in favor of another.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Diana –

    Great rhetoric…but (you knew there’d be a ‘but’, didn’t you?) a bit short-sighted in the long view.

    Why? It sounds wonderful, it sounds right to ensure that there would be zero discrimination – and what is Affirmative Action but discrimination by another name. And of course there should never be any occasion when discrimination (especially racial discrimination) should be allowed, right?

    Wrong.

    I’ll try to illustrate my point: look at the African-Americans. What do you think goes through their minds when they see so many of their fellow blacks in lower-ranking positions being ordered around by the officer and senior enlisted ranks which are 95%+ white?

    Sure, you can say what should go through their minds, that the disparity should be an encouragement for them to try harder…but what you believe they should be thinking is not what’s really going on through their minds.

    Yes, they DO assume that the disparity is due in large part to racism…and they are RIGHT. Why? Because they STILL suffer the long-term effects of centuries of slavery, then generations of Jim Crow, and the lingering racism that still exists.

    Speaking of ‘lingering racism’, such is extant in ALL races and ALL cultures…but while racism is and always will be a part of the human condition so long as there are different races, it is the racism of the dominant race and the dominant culture that has the most deleterious effect and is therefore the most egregious. In America, it is unarguable that the white race and white culture that is largely dominant – and so it is to be expected that racism by whites is in fact more egregious than racism by other races.

    Back to the military – from what I’ve seen and heard, this racism is most prevalent in the Navy and least so in the Army…and this is due purely to the relative dearth of blacks in the Navy and the fact that they are overrepresented in the Army.

    It all boils down to this, Diana – if you want a black man to go risk his life for his country, he has to be able to see with his own eyes that there is real opportunity for him to advance to higher ranks. The fact that we have a black president is of less consequence than one might think, because advancement in the civilian and political world has ZERO to do with advancement in the military.

    Lastly, this retired sailor would point out that the prospect of “military affirmative action” would be quite unpopular with the rank and file in the short term – and rightly so! But idealistic matters of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in the military often take second place to what is more effective and produces the best results. I’m not justifying the concept, but only saying that it exists, and strongly so – witness the support among many for the torture conducted under the direct orders of George W. Bush.

    So…no – it’s not a simple matter of black-and-white (no pun intended), but of countless shades of gray.

  • Doug Hunter

    #2

    I applaud your honesty in calling affirmative action what it is… discrimination, racial or otherwise. I don’t support racial discrimination but in modern bizarro world that means of course, I’m a racist.

    I hate to even throw this name out here but George Bush as governor of Texas faced similiar issues with college entrance and allocated slots based on school, thereby ensuring minority schools would get their share. Obviously, that isn’t going to translate directly to the problem at hand, but the point is that you should exhaust every possible means other than making government decisions based on the color of someone’s skin. If you can target promising low income people (not restricted by color)with special programs to prepare them for military school or leadership positions perhaps that could play a role without just flat out adding x number of points to someone’s promotional consideration. We need to think outside the box and come up with solutions without sacrificing principles.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/diana-hartman/ diana hartman

    Glenn and Doug, thank you for reading commenting.

    Glenn, I can’t suppose to know what’s going through anyone’s mind. I have to ask if I want to know. For the better part of 26 years I have been asking because that’s how long I’ve lived in and around military bases and I’ve seen what happens when favor of any kind plays out.

    I maintain downsizing one group in favor of another doesn’t work because it’s a smokescreen. It gives the powers-that-be something to say without actually having to do anything. They can say, “Look we’re making room for you,” while not changing anything. The policies that keep people from advancing and the people who have a record and reputation for discriminating remain. That is what needs to change.

    It does no good to remove corn from a field to plant beans if you’re not going to plant the beans. All you’ll have as a result is a plot of dirt.

  • Deathrider6

    Diana,

    While I found your article interesting I do respectfully disagree. I served under NCO’s and officers of various ethnic groups both male and female. Affirmative action while laudable would be prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the service at all levels. In my experience the miltary promoted on merit and performance. This covered everything from general appearance of the uniform to training standards. The personnel who met and or exceeded standards rose up the chain of command. Those who did not perform didn’t.

    Even if it was possible to implement “Affirmative Action” you would shut large numbers of servicemebers of both sexes from meaningful advancement if they chose to make the military a career as either and officer or enlisted.

    Promotion slots fluctuate almost weekly as the needs of the service dictate how many slots are available due to attrition (separation or other losses) and force levels that are detemined at the highest levels (the Pentagon) and due to differing needs by MOS and service branch.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/diana-hartman/ diana hartman

    Deathrider6, with what part of the article are you disagreeing?

  • Deathrider6

    Paragraph four. On the other hand while my thoughts seem to be in order in my reply I might want to make sure I’m awake before I post them.