Turns out there was polling of military troops back in the 1940s. White soldiers were given a chance to say they didn’t want to serve or live with blacks — and boy did they!
Eighty-five percent of white troops surveyed in the years leading up to President Harry Truman’s executive order that integrated the troops said they wanted separate service clubs. (In the month leading up to Truman’s 1948 order, a Gallup poll showed 63 percent of American adults favored segregation in the military.)
Wonk Room‘s Igor Volsky hit up the National Archives and scored some of these surveys: “While smaller, these racial polls share some common questions with the DADT survey. In fact, in some instances one can even replace ‘negro’ for ‘gay’ and end up with today’s questionnaire. Both polls ask servicemembers if they objected to working alongside minorities, how they felt serving with minorities, how effective minorities are in combat and if their feelings have changed about the minority after serving with them. (Interestingly, 77% of respondents said they had more favorable opinion).”
The survey Volsky posts (embedded below) appears to be for white troops only, though an additional section includes tallies from black soldiers, so it can be assumed they, too, were surveyed, though it’s unclear whether the respondents were equally numbered.
But look: Back then white soldiers declared, sometimes, that they’d be nice and let the blacks use their facilities during certain hours. Awww!
And in case you’re wondering how the special sauce is made, allow the 1940s military to explain:
The current Pentagon survey, approved by the president, Sec. Gates and Joint Chief Chairman Mullen, is equally as offensive and quite possibly likely to yield the same disgusting results. Fierce advocacy means asking around to see who’s afraid of the queers.
It’s easy to say “the 1940s were a different time” to explain away the horrific nature of these surveys. But you’d be right, in a way: It was a different time. And nothing we do now will change whatever it is that led Truman to make the obvious, morally just, national security-focused right call and demand integration. But here we are nearly seven decades later and we’re asking the same grotesque questions. If there was any modicum of an excuse back then, there is zero now.