More On Representation

     Yesterday’s bit of whimsy didn’t get a lot of comment action. Whatever the reason, apparently the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch were disinclined to register their opinions on the subject. No matter; it was meant to stimulate thought on the issue, which is a live one. It will remain significant because the coin has (as usual) two faces:

Every Over-Representation
Implies an Under-Representation.

     The laws of arithmetic don’t allow for any other conclusion. If proportional representation is important to some activity, then it matters to every group involved in that activity. Indeed, it might matter even more to groups un-involved in the activity.

     This is something about which little noise has been made. Either “representation,” in the sense being used here, is important or it isn’t. But this dichotomy is rarely argued anywhere.

     Does it matter, in some sense integral to justice, that there are no Buddhists in the New York Philharmonic orchestra? Does it matter that there are no women in the NHL? Does it matter that there are no paraplegics in mixed-martial arts? If the answer to those questions is no, then why would it matter that women are under-represented on corporate boards? Why would it matter that Negroes are under-represented in symphony orchestras? Why would any such statistic occupy our attention?

     The usual reply from the “woke” / SJW screechers is “bigotry.” But bigotry cannot account for rates of application, can it? If “not enough” women are applying for executive positions in large companies, how is that bigotry? If “not enough” Negroes are taking up the violin or the oboe, how is that bigotry?

     Doesn’t sound like it to me.


     America supposedly champions individual merit and individual achievement. Lately those things have been relegated to a dusty backroom shelf in favor of “representation.” The shift in emphasis occurred while we were looking elsewhere.

     Time was, prejudices of certain kinds outweighed ability, at least in certain circles. Women and Negroes were excluded from certain kinds of employment, regardless of what particular talents they could offer. That’s not to be minimized, for an individual’s merits ought to outweigh everything else about him. Justice would not be served otherwise. But it’s not always about the applicant. Sometimes it’s about the “work environment,” or the people already working in it.

     When women pressed for inclusion in the fighting units of America’s armed forces, there was a great deal of debate about the foreseeable consequences. Men’s attitude toward women – our natural protectiveness toward them – was one of the subjects. So were the sexual tensions likely to arise in a unit that includes both sexes. And of course, many asked whether women could meet the standards maintained by the Army for combat soldiers.

     All of that was swept aside by the activists who led the charge. “It’s not fair that women are denied the right to serve their country!” they howled. That there are many ways to serve one’s country that don’t involve the rigors and potential horrors of combat went largely undiscussed. So in the fullness of time, women were permitted into combat positions. And what has followed?

  • Fitness and capability standards have declined sharply;
  • Costly changes to barracks and hygiene facilities have been imposed;
  • The services now face difficulties arising from pregnant women in the ranks;
  • The “it’s not fair” chorus has moved on to under-representation of women at command ranks.

     Would anyone care to argue that our readiness to fight has been well served?


     I can’t end this without a word or two about quotas.

     Once “representation” is made the paramount consideration, all other factors must be demoted to secondary importance. Those more capable of doing the work will have to hope that the “representation” allotted to their particular cohort will allow them to slip through. Some will be turned away to meet the quota for other groups. Those selected to meet the quota for their cohort may be incapable, which penalizes the employer and the ultimate customer. Thus is a multifaceted injustice perpetrated in service to irrelevant statistics.

     To take the baldest case, were the U.S. to get into a war and lose, there would be a lot of post-mortem agony. What did we do wrong? The debates would absorb the whole nation. But would any consideration be given to “representation,” its effect on our combat readiness, and our forces’ performance under fire? Or would the activists that screamed about “representation” demand that those factors be off limits to discussion?

     I think my Gentle Readers know the answer.


     I could go on, but I think the point has been made. We’ve taken a perverse turn in service to a foolish notion. If it’s still possible to turn back, the time is now, before the costs impoverish us. The claims of the activists notwithstanding, there’s really nothing else that matters…and nothing else to say.

1 comment

  1. Nothing is off-limits to discussion if you don’t knuckle under and be the first to revolt against the censors.

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