Paul R. Lehman, Report indicates military ignored ethnic bigotry against African Americans

June 17, 2017 at 4:06 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, justice system, Prejudice, race, racism, skin color | Leave a comment
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Sometimes we go along thinking that something is going just fine and needs little or no attention, but then discover that we were wrong in our thinking and everything is not going as we thought. A case in point is a news report that was released June 14, 2017, which stated that “Black troops are far more likely than their white comrades to face court-martial or other forms of military punishment.” Once we collect our thoughts, we discover that this news is surprising, but not alarming because we know the history of American ethnic relations and how it manifest its biases in a variety of ways. The data for this report was collected and analyzed by the group, Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy organization for the victims of sexual assault and military justice. The data for this report was acquired from the Pentagon and covers the years 2006 to 2015.

According to the article in USA TODAY, by Tom Vanden Brook, we learn that “Over the past decade, racial disparities have persisted in the criminal justice system without indications of improvement.” The article continued by noting that “These disparities are particularly striking for black service members, who face military justice or disciplinary action at much higher rates than white service members in every service branch. In fact, the size of the disparity between white and black service members’ military justices involvement has remained consistent over the years, and, in the case of the Air Force and Marine Corps has increased.” The point is that little attention has been paid in the last decade or more to the area of ethnic discrimination in the military, so no trouble flags have been raised in that regard.

The report goes further to show the histories of ethnic discrimination in each branch of the military and points out the seriousness of the problem in two branches in particular: “The researchers found that the Marine Corps had some of the most significant issues with race, particularly in instances where the harshest penalties are possible. In an average year, black Marines were 2.6 times more likely than whites to receive a guilty finding at a general court-martial judicial proceeding for more serious offenses.” In addition, the report found that “…black airmen were 71% more likely than whites in the Air Force to face court-martial or non-judicial punishment, discipline meted out for less serious offenses.” One would think with the percentages of offences so high that some alarm would have been sounded by someone keeping the data.

While the instances of discrimination were very high in both the Marine Corps and the Air Force, the report stated that “Findings for the other services, the Army and Navy, show disparities as well. Black soldiers were 61% more likely to face court-martial than whites in the Army; and black sailors were 40% more likely than white in the Navy to be court marshaled. That percentage is 32% for black Marines.” These percentages from each military branch of the service underscore the problems of ethnic bias experienced by African Americans.

The fact that discrimination of African Americans in the military service represented a problem was voiced by Don Christensen, president of the group and a former top prosecutor for the Air Force. He said in an interview that the “From the findings of the study, race appears like it plays a big role, which is disheartening.” He continued by stating that “It seems to have a sizable role in determining if somebody’s going to go to court or receive non-judicial punishment. I’m really not sure what exactly explains it, and that is really troubling.” He also  noted that “ The military has known about these numbers for decades and has done nothing about it.” His comments suggest that no one in the military thought these numbers constituted a problem, so no action was necessary.

Since each branch of the military has it own unique society with rules and regulations governing it inhabitants, most civilians are not privy to what transpires in the military on a daily basis. Also, military communities are controlled environments under the rules and regulations for each respective branch. Because these communities are not usually part of the public community, the public has little chance to learn about many of the activities that take place in military life. For that reason, ethnic discrimination that occurs in the military should be the concern of each and every member of the military family. Unfortunately, according to Christiansen, “the lack of diversity in the military may play a role in unequal justice for black troops. In 2016, about 78% of military officers were white, and 8% were black.” That fact alone underscores a cause of the ethnic bias problem experienced by African Americans.

The primary cause of the problem of ethnic bigotry in the military is the acceptance of the false concept of race, especially, the acceptance of the notion of a black and white race. In order to start the process of ridding the military of ethnic bigotry, the concept of race must be debunked and replaced with the concept of one family of mankind, which, in fact, we are. The social conditioning received by Americans that underscore power, privilege, and superiority to the European Americans must be shown to be false and replaced. For example, the term race should be removed from all government forms and replaced with ethnicity or ethnic group. Also, black should be removed and replaced with African American or person of color, and white and Caucasian replaced with European American or whatever ethnic identity is appropriate. To continue using the language that separates rather than unites people is part of the problem.

In the military ethnic biases can occur in three places where the biased individual is protected from repercussions: positions, promotions, and punishment. The judgment of individuals in supervisory roles can and does play a role in the extent of bigotry in the military. The ethnic biases that were part of the individual’s character prior to entering the military still manifest itself in situations where a biased judgment is not readily detected and can be easily disguised in the rules and regulations. The problem of ethnic bigotry must be addressed at the beginning of military service as well as the repercussion for practicing it. This awareness must be a part of everyday life.

Christensen noted that “The study shows that the military isn’t immune from the same racial issues that affect civilian police and courts.” Although that might be the case for now, the military is in a position to effect a great change. Since the military is a controlled society, changes can be made to correct this problem, and those changes can serve as a model for the civilian society. First, however, the military must recognize that a problem exists before it can be addressed. Now they know!

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