Racism in America’s Military

In an excellent, albeit depressing, New York Times article, Helene Cooper writes about the crippling effects of the European American dominated culture of the U.S. military limits opportunities for soldiers of color (as well as limiting the talent pool for what European Americans boast at the world’s best military):

Racism within the military appears to be on the rise. A survey last fall of 1,630 active-duty subscribers to Military Times found that 36 percent of those polled and 53 percent of minority service members said they had seen examples of white nationalism or ideologically driven racism among their fellow troops. The numbers were up significantly from the same poll conducted in 2018, when 22 percent of all respondents reported personally witnessing white nationalism.

In recent years, the Pentagon has faced intensifying criticism for a series of racist episodes. A lawsuit filed in federal court in February by a Navy fighter pilot accused airmen and officers at the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach of seeking to cover up institutional racism directed against African-American aviators, which he said resulted in their wrongful removal from pilot training programs. The pilot’s lawyer said in an interview that black airmen at the base were, among other things, given racially derogatory call signs like “8-Ball” and referred to as “eggplants” in group chats on social media.

In December, West Point announced that its Black Knights football team had removed from its flag the initials G.F.B.D., for “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t,” after learning that it was a slogan demanding loyalty by the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a white supremacist prison gang.

The small sniper community in the Marine Corps has often used a Nazi symbol, the lightning bolt insignia of Hitler’s SS units, as a stand-in for “Scout Sniper.” Although the Marine Corps leadership moved quickly to stamp out the symbol after a photo of a unit posing with an SS flag surfaced in Afghanistan in 2012, it still persists, Marines say, much like a secret handshake.

On this Memorial Day, European Americans should remember more than golf dates, the beach, and barbeques. They and all Americans should honor the vibrance of the American ethnic palette.

P.S. Americans love euphemisms. I was searching Google and Bing for some material. I typed in the following: American ethnic palette, hoping an illustrator came up with an imaginative way of showing the diversity of American and its simultaneous potential unity.

Apparently ethnic does not mean ethnic to the millions who search. It means African American.

When it comes to race, we enjoy blurring our words.

P.P.S.: Popculturephilosopher.com gives a good description of the flag and its origins: “The Flag of All Americans: Inspired by a poem by Pete Seeger, this is an American flag that replaces the original seven white stripes with ones suggesting the entire wide range of skin tones found in America. The image is available under Creative Commons licensing, it can be freely used and adapted without cost.”

E-mail josephconlin@live.com Hours Copyright 2020 Joseph Conlin
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