Cadets and Midshipmen
Last Sunday, I blogged about possible white power salutes at the Army-Navy football game. From today’s Washington Post:
West Point cadets and Navy midshipmen were playing the ‘circle game,’ not making a racist gesture, investigators say
The article explains:
An investigating officer at the Military Academy reported the men “were playing the ‘circle game,’ an internationally recognized game in which people attempt to trick someone else into looking at an okay-like hand gesture below the waist.”
The cadets denied the gesture was meant to invoke white supremacy.
Officials gathered sworn statements from the cadets involved, other cadets who participated in the ESPN broadcast, the cadet’s tactical officers and their cadet chain of command. They all said the hand gestures were a “misplaced joke,” a statement from the Military Academy said.
Okay, that’s what I thought the investigation would find. I remain just a bit skeptical, however.
From CNN on Thursday:
Senate removes phrase 'white nationalist' from measure intended to screen military enlistees
The story explains:
The Republican-controlled Senate quietly cut the phrase "white nationalist" from a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was intended to explicitly address the threat of white nationalists in the military, altering the language of a House-passed amendment before passing the massive military spending bill Tuesday.
The House amendment, which was passed in July, was drafted to explicitly study the feasibility of screening for white nationalist beliefs in military enlistees.
But the final version of the bill passed by the Senate and sent to President Donald Trump for his signature now only requires the Department of Defense to monitor for "extremist and gang-related activity," rather than specifically referencing white nationalism.
An interesting decision by the Senate.
White House advisor Stephen Miller is still working in the White House
From a recent opinion piece by Dartmouth sociology professor Emily Walton on the NBC News website:
An even clearer example of the racially divisive attitudes harbored and perhaps even enabled by this administration is represented by White House adviser, Stephen Miller. Miller was recently found to have written hundreds of emails demonstrating his support for white nationalist ideology. Although some Democrats have called for Miller’s resignation, one of the main architects of Trump’s hardline immigration policies has so far faced zero consequences.
Yes, Miller continues to work in the White House. From The Guardian:
More than 100 members of Congress, dozens of civil rights groups and at least 130,800 others have called on Miller to step down, or be fired, but the White House, and the broader Republican party, has still supported Miller after it was revealed he promoted racist fears such as a conspiracy theory about the demographic replacement of white people in America.
Why is he still there?
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, who studies the history of fascism in Europe, said Miller was safe in the White House because he was the perfect combination of ideology and behind-the-scenes personality to appease Trump, an “attention-hungry leader” pushing far-right policies.
Yesterday, Miller appeared on Fox Business and attacked Democrats:
Miller said his policy goals are about one thing only: America First*.
"I will not take moral lectures from a party that endorses the slaughter of innocent Americans and sanctuary cities," Miller said. "I will not take moral lectures from a party that has zero empathy for the thousands of Americans killed by drugs, killed by criminals who have no right to be in our country because they oppose immigration and border control. Where is their compassion? Where is their empathy? Where is their heart and soul for innocent Americans killed every single day because of their policies?"
Donald Trump is the anti-racist president, and everyone who works underneath him are absolutely committed to the philosophy of everyone as equal in the eyes of God."
Miller said President Trump has not discussed the issue with him, saying he “is too busy running the country to waste his time with this drivel coming from the same lunatics who've been launching a three-year campaign of lies, hoaxes and scams against the president."
(Emphasis is mine.) I think it’s easy to see why Miller has kept his job.
*Here's historian Sarah Churchwell discussion of the phrase in The Guardian. Her conclusion:
This is merely the latest iteration of a powerful strain of populist demagoguery in American history, from President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) to Louisiana senator Huey Long a century later – one that now extends to Trump.