Race Relations: The Myth Of The Military Model

The racial
situation in the military was thrust back into the

recently when Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem)

reinstating the draft
. The Korean War veteran
offered a good argument and a bad one. [“Bring
Back the Draft
,” New York Times Op-Ed, Dec
31, 2002, by Charles B. Rangel.]

good argument: when members of today`s political elite
contemplate sending America`s

all-volunteer forces

harm`s way
, they are in little danger of personally
losing family members. Among the children of the 535
members of Congress are found only a handful of officers
and a single enlisted man.

It wasn`t
always like this. Sons of President Theodore Roosevelt
died in both WWI and WWII. Teddy Roosevelt Jr. won the

Medal of Honor
landing in the first wave at Normandy
at the age of 56.

Rangel`s bad
argument:  "A disproportionate number of the poor and
members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of
the military…"

This just
isn`t true. While blacks are heavily represented in the
military in general, they make up only

15 percent
of the combat ranks – just barely above
their share of younger Americans.

they are fairly rare in exclusive jobs such as pilots
and Special Forces. As I noted in my movie

of Black Hawk Down, the remarkably
authentic film of the ill-fated

1993 raid in Somalia
, of the 40 American soldiers
depicted (all of them

or ultra-elite

Delta Force
commandos), only one was black.

If all goes
according to plan, these carefully selected warriors
would do most of the fighting. Of course, wars don`t
always go according to plan…

Combat units
have gotten whiter because a lot of young white guys
join up to "play Rambo" for four years and then go to
college using military tuition benefits. In contrast,
more blacks view the military as a long-term career.

If you
intend to stay in until you are 40 or 50, it makes a lot
of sense to pursue a specialty that offers plenty of
desk jobs. Crawling on your belly and sleeping in the
mud might sound like fun if you aren`t staying past your
early 20s, but it gets old awfully fast as you yourself
get older.

The military, especially the Army, is famous for how
well blacks and whites get along. The high level of
black accomplishment, with its accompanying equality and
amity, is often held up as a model for the rest of

Much of what the Army does is well worth studying, as
I pointed out in my 1995 article "Where
the Races Relate
," which explained to university
administrations what they could copy from the Army to
improve race relations on campus. (Amazingly, they
didn`t listen.) The fine 1997

All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and
Racial Integration the Army Way
by sociologists

 Charles C. Moskos

John Sibley Butler
 gives a detailed view.

It would be
wonderful if racial gaps could be made to disappear with
just a little discipline. But the Army has a secret
weapon: it

carefully selects
which applicants it accepts. Black
and white recruits are quite equal even before they join

Even in the
1970s when the quality of white recruits was low,
respectable black families were proud to send their
children into the Army. Back then, according to Moskos
and Sibley, 90 percent of black enlistees were high
school graduates, compared to only 40 percent of whites.

President Reagan raised soldiers` pay and helped make
patriotism fashionable again, the capabilities of white
enlistees rose sharply. Now, virtually all recruits have
high school diplomas.

White and
black enlistees come from families with similar incomes.
A 1999 Defense Department

found that among American households as a
whole, the average income for whites was $44,400 and for
blacks $27,900. Among enlistees, however, the racial gap
was almost non-existent. White recruits came from
households averaging $33,500 per year versus $32,000 for
blacks – i.e. a figure well above the black national

Perhaps most
importantly, the Army is a heavy user of

aptitude tests
. A surprisingly high fraction of
young Americans are ineligible to join the Army because
of lack of intelligence – extrapolating from Moskos and
Sibley`s figures, about a fifth of all whites and
three-fifths of all blacks wouldn`t make the cut.

The brain
power of those accepted is impressive. Moskos and Sibley
found that in 1994

percent of white recruits scored in the upper half of
the mental aptitude test (compared with 61 percent of
white youths in the national population), while 59
percent of black recruits scored in the upper half
(compared with 14 percent of the black youths

In other
words, the Army`s black enlisted personnel score just as
well on the general aptitude test as the average white
American. (African-American officers average even
better, of course.)

There are
still differences, so whites tend to predominate in the
most intellectually-challenging military jobs. Still, by
drawing just from blacks with relatively high IQs, the
Army has managed to sidestep a huge number of problems.

So the magic race relations bullet that the military
has found turns out to be –

IQ tests

And keeping out the lower-scorers.

This will be hard to apply in America at large.

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website

features his daily

January 26, 2003