Democrats’ next target over ‘racism’: the U.S. military

Democrats’ next target over ‘racism’: the U.S. military

The draft Democratic platform is very negative about whites, mentioning them “15 times, all critical,” as Paul Bedard notes in the Washington Examiner. The “theme in much of the document is that America is divided between whites and minorities … and that most issues, even military court-martials, are a racial crisis.”

The platform accuses our military of “systemic racism.” It pledges to “root out systemic racism from our military justice system, where black service members are twice as likely as white ones to face court-martial.”

But it doesn’t cite any proof that the higher black prosecution rate is due to racism. A highly-publicized report from the Government Accountability Office did indeed find that blacks are twice as likely to be court-martialed as whites. But the GAO repeatedly declined to say that that higher rate is due to “unlawful discrimination.”  So the higher black court-martial rate could just as easily reflect the higher black crime rate, rather than racism by our troops.

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The GAO report also found “male servicemembers were more likely” than “female servicemembers” to be court-martialed. But the Democrats don’t claim there is “systemic sexism” against men. Presumably, that’s because they recognize the obvious fact that men have a higher crime rate than women do. The reality is different groups have different crime rates.

The Supreme Court has recognized that the crime rate isn’t the same for different racial groups. In an 8-to-1 ruling, the high court emphasized that there is no legal “presumption that people of all races commit all types of crimes” at the same rate, since such a presumption is “contradicted by” real world data showing big differences in crime rates. (See United States v. Armstrong (1996)).

The racial disparities in the GAO report don’t prove racism, either. The GAO specifically warned that “we did not identify the causes of any racial or gender disparities, and the results of our work alone should not be used to make conclusions about the military justice process.”  “Our findings of racial and gender disparities, taken alone, do not establish whether unlawful discrimination has occurred” and “should not be used to make conclusions about the presence or absence of unlawful discrimination.”

Nor was there other proof of racial discrimination. Blacks were not being railroaded in the court-martial process. As the GAO noted, “Race was not a statistically significant factor in the likelihood of conviction in general and special courts-martial.”

The Democrats simply assume that racial disparities must be due to racism. But many racial disparities obviously are not due to racism: Hispanics live three years longer than whites, on average, even though doctors don’t discriminate in their favor. Asians make more money than whites, on average. And while blacks make less money than whites, on average, African immigrants from places like Nigeria and Ghana make more money than whites. Racial disparities exist everywhere in society and the world, often for reasons unrelated to racism, notes the black economist Thomas Sowell

The racial disparities in the military’s criminal justice system do not seem suspiciously large compared to the civilian justice system. In fact, the military’s racial disparities are smaller. As the GAO noted, “for prisoners with sentences of 1 year or more under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional officials in 2016, Black males were six times more likely to be imprisoned than White males.” “Black individuals represented 26.9 percent of total arrests nationwide, but comprised 13.4 percent of the U.S. population.”

The draft Democratic Platform also repeatedly complains about the wealth gap between whites on the one hand and racial minorities on the other. It alleges that “there is a persistent, pernicious racial wealth gap … with the typical white household holding six times more wealth than the typical Latino family and 10 times more wealth than the typical Black family.”

To shrink the wealth gap, the Democrats will likely support reparations. As Newsweek notes, “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said” in June that “he was in favor of paying slavery reparations to African Americans and Native Americans if studies found direct cash payments to be a viable option.”

The New York Times notes that reparations could cost taxpayers “several trillion dollars.” Such reparations are unlikely to actually eliminate the racial wealth gap, because many people just spend unearned windfalls rather than investing them to build wealth. Reparations also appear to violate existing Supreme Court rulings restricting reverse discrimination. But those rulings may be overturned if President Biden replaces retiring Supreme Court justices with justices more sympathetic to race-based reparations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “House leaders say they expect to pass this year” a “proposal creating a federal commission to craft an official government apology and remedy plan,” and “Joe Biden” has “endorsed the bill. … The legislation faces opposition from Republicans who control the Senate. … A Democratic sweep in November elections, however, could pave the way for enactment.”

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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