The Corner

Education

The Military Deliberately Excludes ‘the Lowest of Our Low’

Gregory Salcido, the California teacher who called members of the military “the lowest of our low,” has been fired. Unfortunately, the outrage Salcido generated by touching a sacred cow has distracted from the fact that he is objectively wrong. Let’s look again at what he said:

Think about the people who you know are over there [in war zones] — your frickin’ stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They’re dumb sh**s. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people; they’re the frickin’ lowest of our low. Not morally. You know I’m not saying they make bad moral decisions. They’re not talented people. . . . The data is in. We don’t have a good military.

This is simple to refute. People who want to join the military must take the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which measures math and verbal skills. The AFQT has been normed against the general population of American young people. By rule, virtually no one who scores below the 31st percentile is allowed to enlist. In other words, far from being dominated by people who are the “lowest of our low” academically, the military deliberately excludes them.

CNA, on behalf of the Defense department, has published lots of AFQT data for those who are interested. For example, 75 percent of enlistees score in the top 50 percent on the AFQT, and the fraction of enlistees who score in the very top AFQT category (6.5 percent) is close to the fraction in the general population (7.9 percent).

I don’t want to see a teacher fired for criticizing the military. It strikes me as a kind of reverse political correctness, with conservatives encouraging the witch hunt this time around. In particular, the school-board president’s claim that Salcido had “bullied” and “intimidated” people is ridiculous. Had he made the same inaccurate comments about, say, plumbers, it would probably never have become a news story. Nevertheless, Salcido’s defense that he was merely encouraging his students to go to college rather than the military is not a good one. He made false statements to his students about their career choices, and he should retract them.

Jason Richwine — Jason Richwine is a public-policy analyst and a contributor to National Review Online.

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Right-Wing Halloween

‘The world is not a dark and evil place,” insists an exasperated woman played by Judy Greer in Halloween. “It’s full of love and understanding!” I put the question to the class: Is she right? In the new film (not a reboot but a sequel that occurs 40 years after the events in the 1978 original and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Blackface Party

I must have missed something: Was there some kind of all-hands white-people meeting at which we voted to kick the Democrats out? Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dolezal, Beto O’Rourke — what’s up with all the ethnic play-acting? Isn’t cultural appropriation supposed to be a bad thing among progressives? Isn’t ... Read More
Elections

The State of the Race for the House

Way back in January, I went through the then-34 seats where a Republican incumbent was retiring and concluded that most were in deeply red districts and not likely to flip to Democrats. Pollsters and media organizations are less inclined to conduct surveys of House races, both because there’s less public ... Read More