Blogs > Cliopatria > The Burden of Fighting the Vietnam War Did Not Fall on the Backs of Poor Blacks

Jul 23, 2004 1:43 pm

The Burden of Fighting the Vietnam War Did Not Fall on the Backs of Poor Blacks

Michael Tremoglie, at (January 9, 2003):

[Michael P. Tremoglie is a writer whose work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Human Events, Philadelphia Daily News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Front Page and Insight magazines. He is working on his first novel 'A Sense of Duty'. see his web: ]

Congressman Charles Rangel (N-NY) recently introduced legislation to reinstate a military draft. In doing so, he repeated, almost verbatim, the same canards about the military that the liberals spouted about the soldiers serving in Viet Nam. He said the volunteer military is composed disparately of poor and minority soldiers and that if a more representative cross section of people served in the military then Congress would not be so anxious to send them to Iraq.

This is obviously a ploy to persuade the public and politicians to preclude military action in Iraq. The problem is what Rangel said is not true. It was not true about the Viet Nam military, it was not true about the post Viet Nam volunteer military, it was not true about the Persian Gulf military, and it is not true about the present military.

The fact is that in Viet Nam the military was not disproportionately minority or poor. They were not draftees. Those killed were not disproportionately black. These were all myths propagated by communist sympathizers to influence the morale of the troops. That these myths still exist is indicative of the powerful influence that liberal media and liberal academia hold in our society.

The truth is that two thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. 70% of KIA’s were volunteers as well. 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races.

The myth was that more blacks were killed than whites and more poor were killed than middle class. Sociologists Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, in their book "All That We Can Be," analyzed the claim that blacks were used like cannon fodder during Vietnam "and can report definitely that this charge is untrue. Black fatalities amounted to 12 percent of all Americans killed in Southeast Asia - a figure proportional to the number of blacks in the U.S. population at the time and slightly lower than the proportion of blacks in the Army at the close of the war."

Regarding the poor, the fact is that middle class servicemen who went to Vietnam from well-to-do areas had a slightly elevated risk of dying-because they were more likely to be pilots or infantry officers. 23% of Vietnam personnel were from families of people with professional, managerial or technical occupations.

Regarding ignorance, Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat until then. 79% of VN personnel had a high school education or better. This is compared to 45% of those who served in WWII and 63% of Korean War personnel (Rangel’s colleagues).

Persian Gulf War (PGW) personnel, which was an all volunteer army, was even more educated. 86% of PGW personnel were high school graduates and eleven percent were college graduates.

In 1998 whites were 64% of the volunteer military. However, that is because more Hispanics and "other " minorities are enlisting. Educated recruits are still the majority of the present volunteer military-actually more than they were two decades ago.

Whatever Rangel’s pronounced reason for wanting to reinstate a military draft-it is nothing more than liberal fallacy. He is merely parroting the fifth columnists. The "poor and minority as cannon fodder" mantra was first used by Eugene Debs in 1918.

I do not question Rangel’s devotion to the United States or the military. His record of service and accomplishment speaks for itself. However, I do question his judgment and his sources of information.

comments powered by Disqus