Nate Jackson / April 8, 2021

United by Division?

Lives are at stake when a major airline promises to count by race when hiring pilots.

Don’t miss the almost hilariously bad irony that an airline called “United” is now going to start dividing by race when it comes to hiring pilots. Apparently, this “woke” HR department run amok is what taxpayers get for last year’s $5 billion federal bailout.

The title of the company’s press release is “United Sets New Diversity Goal: 50% of Students at New Pilot Training Academy To Be Women and People of Color.” Out of a planned 5,000 pilots to be trained, United says its “plan is for half of them to be women and people of color.” The company’s current percentages are 7% women and 13% minorities.

It should go without saying that no one is clamoring to block women or minorities from becoming pilots. Nor is anyone insisting that 50% of pilots ought to be Republican so as to represent the nation’s political divide. The ultimate measure for any number of career choices, including pilots, is (or should be) qualification and expertise.

For pilots, this is even more important, as a commercial airline has one job: transport hundreds of passengers aboard a metal tube flying at 35,000 feet safely to their destination. Would you rather enjoy yet another routine safe landing in one of the safest industries on the planet or, as your plane plummets out of the sky, console yourself with thoughts about the glorious diversity of the pilot’s skin color or genitalia?

This is certainly not to say women or minorities are inherently less qualified to be pilots than white men. But it is to say that the fact of a white-male dominated industry doesn’t mean there’s systemic racism any more than the NFL or NBA are systemically racist because two-thirds and three-quarters of their players, respectively, are minorities. All players, by the way, are male. So far.

There are a lot questions United must answer. What happens if its diversity plans yield less-qualified pilots? What if there simply aren’t enough women or minorities interested in becoming pilots to fill the quotas?

Moreover, is United admitting to having previously discriminated on the basis of race or sex so as to disenfranchise minorities or women? If so, it’s only tacitly with past actions to address it. In its current statement, the airline vaguely blames the “financial barriers that limited access to the airline pilot career path for generations of women and people of color.” So how will this airline discriminating against this generation of white men make up for someone else discriminating against a different generation of minorities or women?

Additionally, Mark Alexander notes, “The quota plan is an insult to existing female and minority pilots who earned their way into United cockpits but will now be viewed as being inferior pilots who become captains and first officers as a result of quotas.”

Finally, will this blatant racial discrimination bring legal trouble? It certainly should, because it plainly violates the Civil Rights Act. Besides, it’s one thing to pull a baseball game from a city over deceptive mischaracterization of a voting law. It’s another thing to put people’s lives at risk with inferior pilots in the name of “diversity.”


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