January 10, 2003
President Bush has been beating the war drums so much lately that Congressman Rangel from the 15th Congressional District of New York (Harlem) felt obligated to submit legislation to restore the military draft. The Congressman noted that there are a great number of Blacks in today’s all-volunteer services. He felt that an undue burden of carrying out the President’s war agenda is falling on the shoulders of the Black Community. It is quite clear that the number of Mexican Americans, and other Latinos, are also represented quite heavily in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corp, Air force and the Army.
The Congressman felt that THE “PRIVELEGED Americans, i.e. the sons and daughters of wealthy individuals or of those with political influence were underrepresented in today’s armed forces. If the President is so eager to have war, the Congressman felt that all should be drafted in order to spread the burden of the war. He is determined to see that when the body bags begin to appear on television and the number of affected families grows, that those body bags should also include, besides the bodies of minorities, the bodies of the white well-to-do and the politically powerful.
Unfortunately, there is no equal opportunity to go die for your country. Even if a draft were to be reinstated, the reality is that almost 80 percent of the youth are from the poor and middle class families white, brown, black, etc. The wealthy families amount to only 10 percent of the population. The poor have large families the wealthy do not. Even with the draft with no deferments, it will be the minorities and the members of middle-class white America that will provide the armed forces with the necessary soldiers, airman, and sailors that are needed to wage war.
If at all, the volunteer services have assured that these young men and women have volunteered because they saw the military as a way to escape from the grinding poverty, unequal opportunities, and the destructive forces of racism and lack of education that they face in their civilian lives. They choose to become professional military men and women because they found that in the military they could raise as high as their own abilities could take them. The Services opened the doors to education; health care and most importantly, they found respect for their accomplishments.
We now have minorities in all rates, ranks and leadership positions from seaman/private to Admirals and Generals. America’s first line of defense is dependent on America’s minorities and working class whites. It always has been that way from the days of the War for independence to the present. Now, they are there because that’s where they want to be. And not because they were drafted or some wealthy Colonist paid them $300 dollars to take their place in the Continental Army.