I'll just say that Kerry was saying something typically stupid and arrogant and elitist. Kerry was just being Kerry, which is not really newsworthy.
This article, by Rosa Brooks of the L.A. Times, examines the demographics of our military.
Was Kerry right?
But recent studies of military demographics suggest that today's military is neither uneducated nor poor. Statistically, the enlisted ranks of the military are drawn mainly from neighborhoods that are slightly more affluent than the norm. The very poor are actually underrepresented in the military, relative to the number of very poor people in the population.
That's mainly because the military won't accept the lowest academic achievers. The Army limits recruits without high school degrees to 3 1/2 % of the pool, for instance, while the Marines won't accept recruits without high school degrees. Poverty correlates strongly with high school dropout rates, so these rules significantly limit the access of the very poor to military service.
At the same time, they ensure that enlisted members of the military are more likely than members of the general population to have high school degrees. The same pattern holds for commissioned officers.
The myth that the military is mainly the province of the poor and the uneducated is grossly misleading, and it's also dangerous. It obscures the far more worrisome gaps that have recently emerged between the military and civilian society. '
Demographically, the military is profoundly different from civilian society. It's drawn disproportionately from households in rural areas, for one thing. For another, the South and Southwest are substantially overrepresented within the military, while the Northeast is dramatically underrepresented.
Compared to civilians, members of the military are significantly more religious, and they're also far more likely to be Republicans. A 2005 Military Times poll found that 56% of military personnel described themselves as Republicans, and only 13% described themselves as Democrats. Nationwide, most polls suggest that people who define themselves as Democrats outnumber those defining themselves as Republicans. ''
This article, posted on a leftist website, paints a slightly different picture:
...blacks are two and a half times as likely to fill support or administrative roles, while whites are 50 percent more likely to serve in the infantry, gun crews or their naval
Confronted by images of the hardships of overseas deployment and by the stark reality of casualties in Iraq, some have raised questions about the composition of the fighting force and about requiring what is, in essence, a working-class military to fight and die for an affluent America.
"It's just not fair that the people that we ask to fight our wars are people who join the military because of economic conditions, because they have fewer options," said Representative Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat from Manhattan and a Korean War veteran who is calling for restorating the draft.'
Rangel is repeating the usual liberal mantra: that the poor and the minorities are 'forced' to go into the military by poverty and 'lack of opportunity', and that they bear a disproportionate share of the burden of military service. And it's often said by this same crowd that 'minorities and the poor' account for a larger share of the casualties of war.
This Heritage Foundation article, with extensive graphs, charts, and statistics says
The demographic data on race reveal that military enlistees are not, in fact, more heavily recruited from black neighborhoods. The data also reveal that minorities serve in different proportions, but not because fewer whites are serving. In other words, there is no "disproportionate share of minorities" serving in the military, as claimed by editorials around the nation in 2003. Some minorities participate more heavily than other minorities.
Race is often used as a proxy for class, but it is rarely, if ever, an appropriate substitute. Even if the military had a higher share of African-Americans, it does not follow that those recruits are poorer, from poorer areas, from more urbanized areas, less educated, or from less educated areas. Indeed, none of these other claims can be substantiated.'
The Heritage article mentions also that the South is overrepresented among recruits, and attributes this in part to the Southern military tradition. Conversely, the lower-than-average enlistments from New England, which (coincidentally?) is one of the most liberal sections of the country, while the South is conservative, shows a predictable pattern. No offense, of course, to people from New England, but statistics are statistics. And the fact that more recruits tend to be religious also follows with the same pattern, with the conservative South tending to be religious.
The L.A. Times article, for some reason, implies that these disparities are indicative of some kind of prejudicial process. For example, notice the passages where Ms. Parks, the writer, says that the existing educational requirements for recruits ''significantly limit the access of the very poor to military service. '' So, in an odd reversal of the usual complaint, this writer is hinting that the poor are being unfairly prevented from serving in the military. In the days when there was a draft, the liberal-leftists always lamented that the poor were 'forced' to take up guns and go to war, and that they were regarded as cannon fodder, or sacrificial lambs for the evil monied interests who were the cause of wars.
Now, the refrain is that the poor are being denied the opportunities of military service. I wonder if conscription were reintroduced as some liberals like Rangel have suggested, would they then reverse themselves, and complain that the poor and minorities were 'unfairly targeted'?
And I don't get why it is a requirement that each and every institution or group in America has to 'look like America.' How are we to ensure that the exact and correct proportion of each and every 'minority group' is represented? The only way that might be done is through conscription, which drew proportionate numbers according to race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation (political correctness would demand it) and of course, gender. If we wanted to be 100% PC, then women should be 51% of the military, should they not? Of course, if we had this kind of quota system, then standards would have to be hopelessly dumbed down to be sure we got some of every flavor, and in the correct numbers. And in fact our standards have been considerably lowered in order to accommodate the females in our co-ed forces.
Personally I think the idea of women in combat is disastrous, and that the feminizing and PC-izing of the military has come at a great cost to us, militarily. But it looks like that process is not about to be reversed; the idea has become entrenched. Even 'conservatives' support women in combat, and some cynical men support the idea just as a sort of punishment for feminists: 'they wanted equality; let 'em have equality.'
The idea of making every institution conform to the actual demographics of America is a typically misguided liberal idea, and unfortunately we are still pursuing it.
But, as America's demographics are changing by the day, as more and more illegals (and legal immigrants, too) surge across our borders, we would constantly have to adjust the numbers to be sure the military 'looked like America.' Yes, I know this is absurd, but I am just taking the idea to its logical conclusion.
I am not sure just what is troubling Ms. Parks; does she think that there are too many white, Southern, religious, high-school grads in our military? Should we drop the ban on drug users? Would we be better off with a less-educated, less white, more Yankeefied military? A more urban military? More women? There are actually leftists who are upset that too many of the troops
..who are most motivated to stay in are the true believers. These troops are "patriots" who are fervently loyal to their God, their Country and their President (When s/he's not a Democrat). These are the troops who will rise to positions of responsibility and command. These troops "with a romanticized notion of combat, a lust for revenge", this "group of misfits that through ideology ... want to see combat" will become the backbone of the US Army. This will be a military where General William G. Boykin and Colonel Ollie North are the norm.
That opens the door to some very disturbing possibilities.'
So it seems that if the troops are too 'patriotic' (notice the scare quotes around the word 'patriots' ) and too 'fervently loyal to their God.'
Again, we are in the topsy-turvy leftist world where 'God' and 'patriotism' are spat out like curse words.
It's a commonly-accepted notion that the left are out to capture the military, to bring it in line with Political Correctness. Most of us, especially those of us who grew up during the pre-PC days, think of the military as the most conservative of institutions, but this is no longer universally so. The Gramscians and their 'long march through the institutions' also had the military in their sights. They did not and will not leave the military untouched.
One of the most destructive liberal ideas is this notion that everything in life must be exactly proportional, that all differences and disparities are due to some kind of bias, prejudice, 'unfairness', or injustice. Life is not fair; there will always be disparities, and the only way to remedy them would require a very intrusive, coercive system which would be much more oppressive than the existing order of things. Whatever happened to the idea that merit or ability or aptitude or personal skills or qualifications should determine admission into college, employment, or the military?
For the defense of our country, it only makes sense to accept those who, first of all, have a strong desire to be in the armed forces, and secondly, possess the requisite abilities, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It makes no sense to have an affirmative action armed forces, and social engineering and ideology have no rightful place there. To use the military for these ideological experiments is to put our country's safety in further danger.