This editorial is written by a disabled Army veteran and staff writer for LET.
Redstone Arsenal, AL – I spent 8 years, 2 months and 24 days in the US Army. I loved every minute of it, even the hard parts. Deployments, time apart from family, being at war, 9/11.
I loved it for all the right reasons. Serving my country, belonging to a brotherhood, standing in the gap for Americans who couldn’t fight.
We worked. We trained, We seat, We bled. We fought. We struggled. But we did all that together, as a unit. We did not care what the ethnic background of the person next to us was. We were a team. And that is how it should be in the military.
The Army I left in 2004, due to injuries sustained in the line of duty, is not the Army I see today. I served with pride. I love the Army. But when I look at the Army of today, I am not quite sure what I am looking at.
Shortly after the 4th of July, which Colin Kaepernick referred to as a celebration of “white supremacy”, an employee of the United States Army sent out an email, inviting both service members and Department of the Army civilian employees to attend “Operation Inclusion” seminars at Redstone Arsenal on July 8th and 9th.
The email, which claimed the “U.S. Army Equity & Inclusion Agency” and “Assistant Secretary of the Army — Manpower and Reserve Affairs” as authors, did not go under the radar. It caught the attention of many, to include the Congressman from the 5th District of Alabama, which is where Redstone Arsenal is located.
A U.S. Army employee on Monday sent an email invite to likely thousands of military and civilian members for a U.S. Army 'Operation Inclusion' listening tour, which included a graphic that said saying "MAGA" is evidence of white supremacy. The Army says it was "sent in error." pic.twitter.com/NUvm0lMVMh
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) July 9, 2020
Representative Mo Brooks wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, and he carbon copied everybody, including:
Donald J. Trump, President of the United States
Mark T. Esper, Secretary of Defense
Henry Kerner, Special Counsel
Dr. Juanita Christensen, Executive Director, Army CCDC AvMC, Redston Arsenal
Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff
William Barr, US Attorney General
His letter was long, yet specific, detailing what was wrong with the email, and how it violated the Hatch Act. That act prohibits people form using official government email accounts from posting political activity, which this email clearly did.
His letter includes the images that were included in the email.
The two most interesting:
It is really hard to see what is listed on the pyramid.
So, we found one of the original sources.
View this post on Instagram
White supremacy is a system of structural and societal racism which privileges white people over everyone else, regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred. White racial advantages occur at both a collective and an individual level. We just updated this chart, which presents *some* of the ways people practice and reinforce white supremacy that they may not be aware of, or even think of as “white supremacy”. If you are unsure of what any of these terms mean, please feel free to look them up. There is an abundance of scholarship and research on each of these things. Image Source: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (2005). Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo (2016); Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero (@jewelspewels) (2019); The Conscious Kid (2020). #AntiRacism #AntiRacist #TeachersOfInstagram #WhitePrivilege
We will let you read the lists and draw your own conclusions.
Here is the gist of it. If you see color, it is racist. If you don’t see color, it is racist. If you ask people of color to share their experiences and teach you about their perspective, it is racist. If you stay silent and don’t ask…racist.
If you don’t mandate complete equality…white supremacy. If you say that we are all one big human family…same.
At the end of the day, the Army is regurgitating a narrative that all leads to one conclusion: no matter what white people do, they are supremacists.
Oh, we almost missed one.
“Make America Great Again.” Uttering those words, or displaying them on a hat or shirt, or posting it on social media is a sure sign that yo are a white supremacist.
Hey Army, what about this guy? Is he a white supremacist?
The invitation made its way to Instagram. The post conveniently left out the pyramid of “white supremacy”.
View this post on Instagram
#Repost @usarmy_equity_inclusion . 𝗔𝗟𝗟 𝗦𝗢𝗟𝗗𝗜𝗘𝗥𝗦 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗗𝗔 𝗖𝗜𝗩𝗜𝗟𝗜𝗔𝗡𝗦 𝗔𝗥𝗘 𝗜𝗡𝗩𝗜𝗧𝗘𝗗. . The Secretary of the Army established “𝗢𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡 𝗜𝗡𝗖𝗟𝗨𝗦𝗜𝗢𝗡“ a holistic effort to listen to Soldiers, Civilians, and Family Members to promote #diversity #equity and #inclusion across the U.S. Army. . 𝗦𝗪𝗜𝗣𝗘 𝗟𝗘𝗙𝗧 𝗙𝗢𝗥 𝗗𝗘𝗧𝗔𝗜𝗟𝗦 ⬅️ . Military Equal Opportunity Profesional, Equal Employment Opportunity Professionals and Army Senior Leaders will host 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗩𝗢𝗜𝗖𝗘 𝗠𝗔𝗧𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗦 listening sessions on Army installations across the globe. #YourVoiceMatters . 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗟𝗼𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: 𝗛𝘂𝗻𝘁𝘀𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲 𝗔𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗮𝗺𝗮 𝟴-𝟵 𝗝𝗨𝗟𝗬, 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬 . Interested and available Soldiers and DA Civilians in the Huntsville, Alabama, Redstone Arsenal, and USACE areas are welcome to participate in listening sessions taking place 8 and 9 July. . 𝗙𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝘀𝗸𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝗲𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁. . 𝗨𝗽𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗟𝗼𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀:⤵️ 𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝟭𝟰 𝗔𝗨𝗚 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬. . Redstone Arsenal: Fort Bragg, NC: Fort Hood, TX: Fort Sam Houston, TX Fort Benning, GA HQ Army Futures Command, TX Joint Base Lewis- McChord, WA . 𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄 @usarmy_equity_inclusion to stay connected to the conversation. . 𝗨𝘀𝗲 𝗛𝗮𝘀𝗵𝘁𝗮𝗴𝘀: . #ArmyDiversity #OperationInclusion #ArmyIs #YourVoiceMatters #USArmy #GoArmy #adapt2win #TrainedandReady #usarmyreserve
The letter that Brooks wrote and shared in the press release demanded answers (in bold below).
Dear Secretary McCarthy:
It has come to my attention that earlier this week, as part of Operation Inclusion, an official invitation to an Army Listening Session with a Headquarters, Department of the Army (HDQA) Inclusion Advisory Team was sent to Department of Defense uniform and civilian personnel and, perhaps, even Department of Defense contractors in the private sector.
Appallingly, the invitation included an overtly political Army document, which included a chart stating that the phrase “Make America Great Again” or “Celebrating Columbus Day” or “Calling the Police on Black People” or using the phrase “All Lives Matter” or “Denying White Privilege” (among many, many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, therefore, racism!
The federal Office of Special Counsel has issued guidance declaring use of the phrase “Make America Great Again” as political activity. Conversely, attacking the phrase “Make America Great Again” is similarly political activity barred by the Hatch Act.
Distribution of materials with the phrase, on federal property or using government material, is a violation of the Hatch Act (P.L. 76-252), which applies to all DoD civilian employees, Reservists, and members of the National Guard. Additionally, as guidance from the Office of Special Counsel makes clear, distributing items with the term “Make America Great Again”, whether in support of or opposition to President Trump’s reelection campaign “would constitute political activity if tied to candidates or political parties.”
As you may also be aware, DoD Directive 1344.10, on Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, specifically states in section 4.1.2, that “a member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not:”… use official authority or influence to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others.”
The U.S. Army’s use of a graphic that claims “Make America Great Again” (among many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, thus, racism, in a clearly marked Army product distributed to U.S. Army uniform and civilian personnel working on or for Redstone Arsenal (a major U.S. military base) using an official email account is in violation of the law, federal regulations, and DoD Directives.
Therefore, I respectfully request the following information:
1. Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the flyer/brochure and email?
2. Who within the Department of the Army approved the flyer/brochure and email?
3. Pursuant to the creation, approval, and distribution of the flyer/brochure and email, was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?
4. If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred (a violation seems pretty obvious), will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?
5. If it is found that a violation occurred, how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?
Listening sessions, as means to check the pulse of the workforce and to foster communication among managers and employees, can be appropriate. Including overtly political materials in the invitation for such an event is completely inappropriate and, in this instance and in my view, illegal.
Further, the inclusion of such materials serves only to ostracize segments of the workforce and create racial division, rather than minimize it. What occurred is absolutely unacceptable, and I expect Army leadership to fully investigate whether this incident violated the Hatch Act or any Department of Defense regulation and to appropriately hold those responsible accountable to the fullest extent possible.
There are better ways to accomplish this mission of Operation Inclusion without demonizing and asserting that those who support President Trump are “White Supremacists” and, therefore, racists. By including such outlandish propaganda in Army documents, the Army will only continue to sow divisions among their workforce.
Member of Congress
While the Congressman remained professional in his writing, I think he missed two vital questions that beg to be asked:
- Is this what the Army is spending its resources on rather than training to fight and win wars?
- What in the flaming hell is the Army doing endorsing such blatant propaganda and force-feeding it to their troops?
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