This article by Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas appeared in Yahoo!News on October 20, 2020:
The tragic death of George Floyd and recent events have fueled widespread protests and a renewed call for racial equality nationwide. Amid this, our country has been compelled to reflect on issues that are often uncomfortable, and leaders have been driven to examine their organizations in ways like never before. The Air Force, in many ways, is no different. But as a war-fighting organization we cannot afford to squander this moment, because our future — and national security — depends on it.
Pursuing equality means we must be sure that we are attracting the most capable members of our society, from all races and walks of life, as we prepare for the next fight. This fighting force should be highly capable while reflecting the diversity of the country we serve.
Before I even took command of my service’s recruiting efforts this spring, Air Force leadership made it clear to me that improving diversity would be on the top of my to-do list. And recent national events only serve as an accelerant as we take aim and tackle this vexing issue.
Pentagon leaders didn’t need to explain the why, although Gen. David Goldfein, our former chief of staff, did that in calling diversity “a war-fighting imperative.” It’s been clear for some time that our progress in better reflecting the society we serve has been too slow.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the first African-American to lead any branch of the military, has called on us to accelerate change or risk losing ground to Russia and China, both of which are integrating potential game-changing technologies like artificial intelligence and hypersonic flight. We need both the best technologies and the best people to win. Improving our diversity falls squarely in Brown’s mandate. […]
To be clear, the Air and Space Forces are not setting quotas based on race or gender. We will, however, focus intensely and concentrate our efforts in traditionally underserved communities. It wouldn’t be legal or productive to hold recruiters accountable for bringing in a certain number of recruits from various demographic groups. But if we see that we’re not hitting recruiting targets that mirror the qualified population in those categories, we will adjust to concentrate on areas where we can get a more representative balance in our applicant pool. […]
While we are meeting or exceeding nearly all demographic targets in our enlisted ranks, inside our cockpits is where we have the greatest disparities and opportunities for improvement. In all, 86 percent of our aviators are white males. Less than 3 percent of our fighter pilots are females. This is why we established a detachment within Air Force recruiting two years ago charged with improving diversity for those who wear flight suits. The mission of Detachment 1 is to bring a singular focus to recruiting qualified women and minorities who have not always felt they belonged.
In this article, General Watson indicates he will recruit more women as pilots and cites the success of the medical profession in changing its gender composition, with half the students in medical school now women. This raises several questions. Will the goal of the Air Force be to have half its combat pilots women? Will that improve our effectiveness in combat? Do women collectively have the same aptitude for mass destruction as they have for healing?
He also fails to reveal which racial minority he plans to target. His reference to the Black martyr, George Floyd, gives us a hint that it will be from that community. If so, he should be reminded that meritocracy is racist. Any selection of Black pilots would have to be based on criteria other than intelligence, education, competence, aptitude, or performance in competitive examinations.
On the other hand, if he is planning to recruit from our Asian minorities …
Moment – a short segment of time.
Moment has recently become a popular word in progressive political discourse, used to signify a time of special significance or opportunity—a momentous moment, so to speak.
Meritocracy – a system in which advancement is based on ability, performance, competence, intelligence, and education.
Many progressive women and people of color hold that meritocracy is racist, sexist, ableist, and incompatible with social justice. It fails to recognize other components of identity which have intrinsic merit—specifically, social factors like race and gender.
Hiring and promotions based on education and competitive examinations are problematic because of their disparate impact on Blacks and women. Furthermore, the very concept of merit is flawed as it is exclusionary and based on inequality of ability, performance, competence, intelligence, and education, which cannot coexist with equality.
Equality – sameness. A word with many meanings, depending on the context.
In socio-economics and politics, equality can apply to equal rights, treatment, justice, care, ability, pay, and housing.
A distinction is frequently made between equality of outcome and equality of opportunity, with the political left generally favoring the former and the right espousing the latter. This implies a dynamic process, but there also is a steady state of inequality which exists in every complex society and can never be overcome, e.g., systemic racism.
The only true equality is abstract and mathematical. Identical manufactured products can come close by being dimensionally and functionally equal. Biological equality is essentially impossible except for identical twins at conception. Yet we are told that all men are created equal and have the same rights. In a free society, this is true in the abstract sense of equality before the law, but even that never happens in real life because of enforcement overreach, selective nonenforcement, prosecutorial zealotry, judicial bias, and inequalities in access to quality legal representation.
Equality is or was the slogan or rallying cry of many ideologies and political movements. In the Declaration of Independence of the United States, the founders declared that all men are created equal, yet many of them owned slaves. In the French Revolution, Liberté, égalité, fraternité was the slogan of the Jacobins. Robespierre implemented égalité during the Reign of Terror, when aristocrats and common people were equally guillotined.
Social, educational, economic, racial, and gender equalities of opportunity and outcome are laudable but not fully attainable in any society inhabited by imperfect, unequal, and corruptible humans. Realizing these limitations, it is still necessary to strive toward the most equality possible in the area of civil rights and the aspirational goal of social justice.
Note: Even the USSR, hailed as a benchmark of equality, had an unequal, elite ruling class of bureaucrats, an apparat of nomenklature and apparatchiks who enjoyed special privileges such as automobiles, dedicated stores, and dachas in the countryside. These perquisites were decried by Trotsky and Schachtman, who were apparently more dedicated to equality and the concept of a classless society than Lenin and Stalin.