The new administration never gives us a chance to forget that it is a vipers’ nest of racists and militarists.
The president, as bigot-in-chief, insulted the widow of African-American soldier Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of four U.S. soldiers killed on Oct. 4 in Niger. In the midst of giving her a “condolence call,” the POTUS couldn’t resist the opportunity to remind the widow, Myeshia Johnson, that “your guy … knew what he signed up for.”
We’ll return to that phrase later. Despite its clashing with the whole idea of consoling someone who is grieving, it is revealing about the nature of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Myeshia Johnson and her mother-in-law, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, both heard Trump’s disrespectful words as they drove to Miami to retrieve their deceased loved one. So did U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, an African-American Democrat of Florida and close family friend, who was in the vehicle and heard the call on speaker-phone. Wilson publicized the call between the president and Johnson. Trump, who insulted and attacked the family of a fallen Muslim officer during the election campaign, replied by insulting Wilson.
That the POTUS is not only racist but plays to racism among his base supporters is nothing new. That he responds to any criticism like a whiny child is nothing new. What was new was that on Oct. 20, Gen. John Kelly, the chief of staff — one of the generals who is supposed to be among the “adults” in the White House and who represents the Pentagon’s immersion in the executive branch — fully supported the president against Rep. Wilson and, by extension, Ms. Johnson.
That Kelly, too, shares the racism that permeates this administration should not surprise us. He and Trump should both be condemned for their words. What is surprising is that a Marine general, who knows there are many African-American Marines, would openly reveal his attitude.
The crux of the matter for Kelly is in the phrase, “He knew what he signed up for.” For Kelly, the U.S. working class should consider itself privileged to be cannon fodder, willing “to die for their country.” In Kelly and Trump’s opinion, Black troops should be doubly proud to die.
But while they are indoctrinated to believe that they must be ready “to die for their country,” that’s not what the troops of the now professional military really “sign up for.” They kill and die, mostly kill with U.S. firepower, to protect the economic interests of the .01 percent that owns 90 percent of the wealth and exploits labor worldwide.
In reality, Sgt. Johnson signed up to participate in a professional military that serves the interest of the imperialist ruling class. The Pentagon indoctrinates U.S. youth in chauvinist “patriotism,” but the interests they are made to fight for are strictly mercenary.
The U.S. ruling class wants the troops, and especially the Black troops, and civilians too, to refrain from asking the big questions that were raised by these outrageously insensitive and racist events: What is the Pentagon doing in Africa? Why are U.S. troops in Niger? And why are they dying for the gang of racists in Washington?