Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Whites Die More Often in War

Do blacks bear the brunt of war by dying disproportionately more than whites? Just the opposite according to this USA Today article:
Blacks, especially in the enlisted ranks, tend to be disproportionately drawn to non-combat fields such as unit administration and communications. They are underrepresented in jobs shooting rifles or dropping bombs.
Whites, on the other hand, go into higher risk jobs, and hence die disproportionately. What's interesting about this is that although it disarms the war-is-racist argument on one ground, it opens the argument up on another. The issue now is not how many blacks die in war, but how many serve as pilots, engineers, and so forth. Naturally, many will claim that this issue demonstrates racism in the armed forces, but the above article concludes:
The reasons for the racial divide are unclear, but several theories have emerged, including lingering racism in some quarters of the military and a tendency among black recruits to choose jobs that help them find work in the civilian sector.
The irony is that if one wants to claim that blacks should be better represented "in jobs shooting rifles or dropping bombs," then one is claiming that blacks should die in higher numbers. To be fair, this is not an absurd position; one could accept that consequence in the name of equality, but I suspect that the race lobby will want to play the issue both ways, i.e., that it is wrong that blacks die disproportionately and wrong that they do not serve in high-risk jobs. The two positions are not compatible, but one can always cite Walt Whitman in defense: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself."

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