Ed Driscoll

THE COLOR OF COMBAT: Mackubin

THE COLOR OF COMBAT: Mackubin Thomas Owens has some thoughts on minorities and war:

The contention that in America’s wars, minorities bear a disproportionate burden of the fighting and dying has long been a staple of Left-wing rhetoric since the Vietnam War. Even as late as the Gulf War in 1991, Jesse Jackson, addressing a largely black audience, claimed that “when that war breaks out, our youth will burn first.”

But as Will Rogers once said, “it’s not the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t true.” The claim of disproportionate minority casualties wasn’t true during the Vietnam War, where the record indicates that 86 percent of those who died during the war were white and 12.5 percent were black, from an age group in which blacks comprised 13.1 percent of the population. It is even less true today.

To understand why, it is necessary to look a little beneath the surface. While overall, minorities comprise 30 percent of the Army, one of the two services that would be expected to bear the brunt of close combat in Iraq, they tend to be underrepresented in the combat arms. As the incomparable Tom Ricks observed in a January 1997 article for the Wall Street Journal, the “old stereotype about the Army’s front-line units being cannon fodder laden with minorities” is false.