The U.S. Army is officially investigating a handout to personnel at the Redstone Arsenal that was included in a presentation on “Racism and Discrimination” that listed the Trump campaign slogan “MAGA” as “covert white supremacy.”
The army is following up on a complaint from Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama, whose district includes Redstone. Brooks believes the handout violates the Hatch Act, which prevents the military from engaging in partisan politics. The congressman sent a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, copied to Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and others.
[Brooks] “demanded an investigation into Army personnel illegally using federal government resources to distribute racist and partisan political propaganda in direct violation of the federal Hatch Act and any number of military regulations,” according to a statement on his website. And he said that the Army must “prosecute and fire” Redstone Arsenal personnel responsible.
Cynthia O. Smith, an Army spokeswoman, said that “as soon as Department of the Army leaders were made aware of these products the Army initiated a 15-6 investigation to determine how this happened. The Army does not condone the use of phrases that indicate political support. The Army is and will continue to remain an apolitical organization.”
The program is part of the Army’s Project Inclusion listening-tour handouts which, on the surface, appear fairly harmless. But the handout suggests something much different.
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Lynchings, hate crimes, the n-word, swastikas and burning crosses are among those things considered “overt white supremacy,” according to the handout. “Make America Great Again,” “Eurocentric Education,” “not challenging racist jokes,” and “Celebration of Columbus Day” are among the many phrases and actions considered “covert white supremacy,” according to the handout.
Brooks pointed to specific pages in the handouts that were deeply offensive — and frankly stupid.
“Disturbingly, the Army chose Redstone Arsenal as the first location on a tour that will cover all Army 4 star commands,” Brooks said in a statement on his website.”The illegal, racist and politically partisan material includes a pyramid graphic that claims the following are evidence of “White Supremacy”, and, hence, racism.”
The Army is backtracking furiously. A spokesman emailed the Military Times saying that the handout “included two unapproved pages that were sent out in error and immediately recalled.” Uh-huh. Sure.
In these amazing, awful, exciting, interesting times, the idea that a campaign slogan is “racist” might be the craziest, stupidest idea of them all. It’s not a new charge that “Make America Great Again” is somehow a racist dog whistle. Apparently, some black activists have been informed that Donald Trump is a racist. Ergo, his slogan is racist. And the fact that many white supremacists support Trump (just as many white supremacists support Democrats) means that the slogan itself must be racist.
I have a hard time wrapping my brain around such illogic. It’s a political formulation, after all, and has little to do with reality. I am often accused of “enabling” white supremacists because I criticize black activists and some of the black agenda. If those white supremacists who are “enabled” by my writing knew what I thought of them, they wouldn’t feel very enabled.
First of all, the thought that white supremacists are even smart enough to read anything above the level of Dr. Suess is hard to imagine. But I refuse to walk on eggshells on questions of race or sex or gender because I might “offend” some people and empower others. I’m too old to worry about offending anyone and those who feel enabled in their hate because of my writing can go hang.
Trump is racially insensitive, as anyone who grew up in stereotype-America during the 1950s invariably is. But claiming his slogan is “racist” or “covert white supremacy” is a political construct and hence, illegal in the military to disseminate.