As a conservative, you can be confident of two things when you make a slippery slope argument in relation to any left-wing idea or policy. First, that you will be condemned as a paranoid lunatic and promptly laughed out of the room. Second, that you will almost certainly be right. Every week, yet another thing happens in reality that people on the Right, in the not so distant past, warned would happen if we stayed on the current trajectory.
Precedents do matter, which is no surprise to some of us. If something is justified on a certain basis, then everything else that can be justified on the same basis will probably one day occur. If you tear down the statues of Confederate generals because they were racist, then all of the other statues of “racist” historical figures will come down. If you say that marriage is only a consensual contract between people who love each other, then eventually you’ll have children with three polyamorous fathers listed on their birth certificates. If you say that it is possible and valid for a person to choose his own gender, then eventually you will have thousands of children undergoing gender transitions. If you justify broad masking mandates during a pandemic, you will end up with masking mandates even after the pandemic. It does not take a fortune teller to predict these future events. It requires only a basic grasp of logic. Evidently, one thing really does lead to another.
The problem is that the slope is sometimes so slippery, and the logical endpoints so irredeemably absurd, that it’s impossible to issue a warning about where things are heading without sounding like you’re making a joke. For example, those of us opposed to affirmative action have for years illustrated our point by asking you to imagine boarding a passenger plane piloted by someone who was given the job to fulfill a racial quota. No matter how committed you are to diversity, we would say, when you’re 30 thousand feet in the air, traveling 500 miles an hour, you want your captain to be the best of the best, no matter his race or gender. It would surely be small comfort, as you plunge into the Pacific due to human error by your under-qualified yet inclusive flight crew, to know that the wreckage will be diverse and equitable. But this is the sort of catastrophic insanity to which our emphasis on diversity inevitably leads. And now United Airlines is here to prove the point.
On Tuesday, United tweeted out the big news: “Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.”
The airline news website One Mile At A Time has more details:
United Airlines is the only major US airline to own a flight school, and the airline is beginning to accept new applications as of today as it embarks on a plan to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030 (upon completion of the program, pilots are guaranteed a job with United). That’s cool in and of itself, as we see how the industry expects there to be so much demand for pilots in the coming years. What’s even cooler is that United is setting a goal of having at least half of those pilots be women and people of color… Just to show why this is needed, a mere 5% of airline pilots in the US are women. Even more jarring is that just over 1% of airline captains are female, meaning a vast majority of female pilots are first officers. So it shows you that progress is being made (in the sense that there are more entry level pilots than senior pilots who are female), but it also shows you how much more work there is to be done. The percentage of US airline pilots who are people of color is even smaller. And perhaps the most shocking statistic of all is that there are fewer than 150 Black female pilots at US airlines.
Yes, “cool” is one way to describe this. But I think a word like “horrifying” might get closer to the mark. To this point, the safety record of the airline industry is almost miraculous. Millions of commercial aircraft fly through the skies each year, and fatal accidents are still so rare that you are orders of magnitude more likely to die in the car on the way to the airport. You are, in fact, more likely to die almost anywhere else on the planet than at cruising altitude on a passenger aircraft. It is, if not the safest place to be, then very close to it. This has a lot to do with advancements in technology, but it’s also a reflection of the incredible skill and competence of the people steering these giant metal buckets over the clouds. As it turns out, there is no miracle or mystery here. People — both those building the planes and those sitting in the cockpit — have made flying as inconceivably safe as it is today.
This is a long way of saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Almost every person who has ever boarded a plane has arrived at the destination intact and unharmed. What that tells us is that there probably is no major widespread problem with the way that pilots are selected. The fact that this record of success belongs mostly to men is not a problem. It is not jarring or shocking. It is not something that we need to fix. If men, in general, have made the best pilots, so be it. If anything, this would be a reason to recruit more men, not fewer. Or better yet, it’s a reason to continue recruiting pilots exactly as they’ve ben recruited until now. The process has worked splendidly. It literally could not have worked any better.
United, doing a little PR damage control (which will prove easier than the sort of damage control they might be doing in the near future), responded to concerns expressed on social media by claiming that all applicants will still be qualified. They wrote: “All the highly qualified candidates we accept into the Academy, regardless of race or sex, will have met or exceeded the standards we set for admittance.”
Notice what they did not say. They did not say that the most qualified candidates will be accepted, only that every candidate will have met their standards. This leaves them open to accept one candidate who merely meets the standard over another candidate who exceeds them. They also don’t promise that they won’t lower or change their standards in order to fulfill this quota.
Defenders of these sorts of policies will often try to have it both ways. Today, there are leftists online claiming that United can still hire the best of the best even while ensuring that half are women or “people of color.” But this really is a one or the other proposition. If you are hiring the best of the best, you cannot possibly declare ahead of time what race and gender, and in what exact proportion, the best of the best will be. If, on the other hand, you can stick to hiring the best of the best while still succeeding in hiring 50 percent women, then there is no need for the quota. The fact that they need the quota means either that they are confessing to deliberately discriminating against women and black people until this point, or that they are moving away from hiring the best applicants in order to prioritize diversity.
Which is it, United? Are you confessing to illegal discrimination and preparing to pay out the billion dollar settlements, or are you announcing a plan to hire less qualified pilots in the future? It’s one or the other. I’m guessing the latter is the case here. United will risk killing you in a plane crash if it scores them a few woke points.
If that is indeed the plan, and since I’m not going to flying United anyway due to the fact that I value my life, I’d suggest that they go all-in. Why stop at only including women and people of color in the cockpit? Here’s a jarring stat for you: no member of the blind community has ever been hired as a commercial airline pilot. Surely, the Wright Brothers would have burned their invention had they known it would lead to bigotry of this sort. If United is breaking glass ceilings, why not this one? They’ll be breaking quite a few ceilings in the near future, I imagine. Why not add this to the list?
I would only request that the passengers on United’s historic first flight by a blind pilot should be all of the executives in the company who decided to put diversity above the safety of their customers. Surely, these executives would leap at the chance to be a part of history — and then to shortly become history. Come on, United. Show us all how progressive you really are.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.