Friday, March 1, 2013

Racial Politics in the US Military in the 1980s

Myah Reeve
Honors 201
Racial Politics in the US Military in the 1980s
            The racial politics in the United States Military in the 1980s was starting to turn toward a more colorblind and gender blind way of thinking when admitting people into the military. In the 1980s, there was a rise in minorities joining the military and particularly African Americans with a 21.4% increase in African American enlisted personnel in 1983 (Donegan). This was an aftereffect of the Civil Rights movement and the United States was making progress towards equal rights. In the 1980s, African Americans occupied “more management positions in the military than they do in business, education, journalism, government, or any other significant sector of American society” (Moskos).
            Unlike modern racism that focuses mainly on skin color or any other such outward appearance, the Ancient Greeks did not have a concept of racism by modern definitions. The Ancient Greeks discriminated on a basis of cultural traits and not biological traits (Bakaoukas). They viewed anyone who was not Greek as barbarians and these barbarians ended up being slaves because they had been prisoners of war. The Ancient Greeks had a narcissistic few of themselves as being the gods on Earth (Taylor). They loved and honored their gods but believed themselves to be culturally above all.
            Athenian slaves were bought, rented, and sold whenever the master saw fit. They were property and yet were not treated exactly as African American slaves were in the United States. Athenian slaves were treated more harshly for crimes that a free man would just have to pay a fine for they were not as disposable as African American slaves were believed to be by slave owners. An Athenian master who excessively mistreated their slave could be persecuted by another citizen, and while this was not done for the sake of the slave but to avoid excess violence, it portrays the difference between mentalities of Ancient Greeks and modern times (Wikipedia). The Ancient Greeks viewed slavery as a natural part of life because they were superior to the “barbarians” in all aspects of cultural life. Aristotle states:
“Others, clinging, as they think, simply to a principle of justice (for law and custom
are a sort of justice), assume that slavery in accordance with the custom of war is
justified by law, but at the same moment they deny this. For what if the cause of war
be unjust? And again, no one would ever say that he is a slave who is unworthy to be
a slave. Were this the case, men of the highest rank would be slaves and the children
of slaves if they or their parents chance to have been taken captive and sold.
Wherefore Hellenes (Greeks) do not like to call Hellenes slaves, but confine the term
to barbarians. Yet, in using this language, they really mean the natural slave of whom
we spoke at first; for it must be admitted that some are slaves everywhere, others
nowhere. The same principle applies to nobility. Hellenes regard themselves as noble
eveywhere, and not only in their own country, but they deem the barbarians noble
only when at home, thereby implying that there are two sorts of nobility and freedom,
the one absolute, the other relative … What does this mean but that they distinguish
freedom and slavery, noble and humble birth, by the two principles of good and evil?
They think that as men and animals beget men and animals, so from good men a good
man springs. It is often the case, however, that nature wishes but fails to achieve this
result” (Bakaoukas).
Aristotle’s claim portrays the narcissistic view the Ancient Greeks had about themselves.

Agriculture, a common use for slaves, black-figure neck-amphora by the Antimenes Painter, British Museum. 2013. WikipediaWeb. 20 Feb 2013. <>.

Works Cited
Agriculture, a common use for slaves, black-figure neck-amphora by the Antimenes Painter, British Museum. 2013. WikipediaWeb. 20 Feb 2013. <>.
Bakaoukas, Michael. "Tribalism & Racism among the Ancient Greeks A Weberian Perspective ."Anistoriton Journal. 9. (2005): n. page. Web. 20 Feb. 2013. <>.
Donegan, Craig. "Do women, blacks and homosexuals get fair treatment?." New Military Culture 6.16 (1996): n.pag. CQ Researcher. Web. 20 Feb 2013. <>.
Moskos, Charles. "Success Story: Blacks in the Military."The Atlantic Online.
"Slavery in ancient Greece." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb 2013. <>.
Taylor, Alex. "The roots of racism." N.p., 22 Nov 2008. Web. 20 Feb 2013. <>.

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