A U.S. Army email, sent after the Fourth of July to its military and civilian members, included a graphic which claimed saying the phrase “Make America Great Again” is evidence of “white supremacy.”
The graphic listed other behaviors it deemed evidence of white supremacy, including, “Celebration of Columbus Day,” the “Denial of White Privilege,” “Talking about ‘American Exceptionalism,'” and saying “There’s Only One Human Race.”
The email invited “all soldiers and (Department of the Army) Civilian Personnel” to attend the U.S. Army’s “Operation Inclusion” seminars on July 8 and 9 at the Redstone Arsenal Army Base in Alabama. The email was sent by Chaney P. Pickard from the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Center using an official government email.
The message named the “U.S. Army Equity & Inclusion Agency” and “Assistant Secretary of the Army — Manpower and Reserve Affairs” as authors.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) — who caught wind of the email — blasted the “deeply offensive and racist U.S. Army ‘Operation Inclusion'” content and demanded the firing and prosecution of Army personnel who used government resources to distribute political propaganda.
Brooks said the email is in “clear violation” of the Hatch Act, which bans government personnel from engaging in political activity while at work.
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
The seminars are part of a listening tour for Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy’s initiative “Project Inclusion,” led by an “Inclusion Advisory Team.”
“Disturbingly, the Army chose Redstone Arsenal as the first location on a tour that will cover all Army 4 star commands,” Brooks added.
Brooks has sent a letter to McCarthy, demanding an investigation.
“Numerous Redstone Arsenal employees have expressed outrage to me about the U.S. Army blatantly violating the Hatch Act and, in effect, labeling patriotic Americans ‘White Supremacists’ and racists if they say or do dozens of things outlined in the U.S. Army email,” he said.
Brooks asked McCarthy to answer the following:
1. Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the email and document?
2. Who within the Department of the Army approved the email and document?
3. Pursuant to the creation and approval of the document, 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, will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?
5. If it is found that a violation occurred (which seems pretty obvious), how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?
Copies of the letter also went to President Donald Trump, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Attorney General William Barr, among others.
The Army confirmed it sent out the email but claimed it was sent “in error” and “immediately recalled.” The Army has initiated an internal investigation to find out what happened:
On July 6, 2020, a Project Inclusion listening tour handout included two unapproved pages that were sent out in error and immediately recalled. The slides – copied from a non-government website – included a word cloud with phrases that were intended to spark conversation; however, the document was predecisional and inappropriate for the discussion. The unapproved pages were in no way used as part of the ‘Your Voice Matters’ listening tour sessions.
As soon 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.