Mark Kleiman – who’s generally pretty sensible for someone with BDS (see his take on the Jacob Hacker “$1.6 trillion to $300 Million” health care proposal) makes a passing comment I didn’t want let stand…
Affirmative action is an attempt by an employer to increase the number of workers it draws from groups currently under-represented among its workforce. African-Americans are currently grossly over-represented in the armed services, especially in the enlisted ranks. So I find it utterly baffling that Eugene Volokh sees an inconsistency between (1) supporting affirmative action; (2) celebrating the success of the military in moving African-Americans up its career ladder; and (3) opposing efforts to further increase the over-representation of African-Americans by selectively recruiting them.
I wrote Mark and asked where he’d heard that, since it resembles nothing I’d heard. He commented that he’d read that African-American soldiers in Iraq were bearing a hugely disproportionate number of the casualties there, and so he was pretty sure there was a higher percent of African Americans in military service.
I was pretty sure he was wrong. Actually, I was.The DoD compulsively tracks statistics and this is no exception. They have the most recent stats available (for 2004 – pdf) and find that
|Table 3.3. FY 2004 Race of Active Component Enlisted Members,
by Service, and Civilian Labor Force 18-44 Years Old (Percent)
|Race||Army||Navy||Marine Corps||Air Force||DoD||18 to 44 Year Old Civilians|
|American Indian & Alaskan Native||1||3||1.2||0.5||1.4||0.8|
|Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander||0||0.3||0.5||0.5||0.3||0.3|
|Two or more races||0||0.8||0.7||1.1||0.6||1.6|
So yes, African-Americans are significantly (like 2x in the case of the Army) over represented in the military.
On the other hand…
I pointed him to iCasualties, which suggests that African-American soldiers have made up about 9.7% of the fatalities in OIF to date.
So why the underrepresentation here?
An interesting question. But I owe Kleiman an apology, and thought it best done in public.