A U.S. Army email inviting employees to listening sessions on race and diversity referred to an attachment to the email, which contained a graphic that said the phrase, “Make America Great Again” is evidence of white supremacy, according to a copy of the email obtained exclusively by Breitbart News.
The email — sent on July 6, 2020, from the Army Missile & Aviation Center’s Equal Employment Opportunity Manager Chaney P. Pickard to employees at the center on the Redstone Arsenal Army Base in Alabama — invited employees to attend and said: “see attached timeline” for specific times for the listening sessions.
The email had a five-page attachment that included the times, plus a graphic that listed behaviors considered evidence of “white supremacy” in a pyramid.
The attachment’s first page contained basic information about the U.S. Army’s “Operation Inclusion” listening sessions, due to take place July 8-9, 2020, at the Sparkman Center Complex, Building 5309, in the Bob Jones Auditorium.
The second page gives more information on the listening sessions. “Interested and available Soldiers and [Department of the Army] Civilians in the Huntsville, Alabama, Redstone Arsenal, and the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] areas are welcomed to participate in the listening sessions taking place 8 and 9 July.” It also listed specific times of the listening sessions.
The third page says “U.S. ARMY EQUITY & INCLUSION AGENCY and Assistant Secretary of the Army – Manpower and Reserve Affairs” at the top, and five “Must-Read Articles For Every Leader,” along with web addresses to the articles.
The articles are #1: America is on Fire. / #2: Bryan Stevenson on the Frustration Behind the George Floyd Protest #3: Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay–Chances Are They’re Not #4: U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism #5: Five Practices and Three Myths that Fuel Inequality.
The fourth page contains the graphic that has outraged conservatives and lawmakers. It is a pyramid listing behaviors considered to be overt and covert white supremacy, including saying, “Make America Great Again,” celebrating Columbus Day, and saying “all lives matter,” or “there’s only one human race.”
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 full list of “convert [sic] white supremacy,” behaviors which are labeled racist but “social accetable [sic],” reads:
- Calling The Police on Black People
- White Silence
- White Parents Self-Segregating Neighborhoods & Schools
- Eurocentric Curriculum
- White Savior Complex
- Spiritual Bypassing
- Education Funding from Property Taxes
- Discriminatory Lending
- Mass Incarceration
- Respectability Politics
- Tone Policing
- Racist Mascots
- Not Believing Experiencing of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color]
- “Make America Great Again”
- Blaming the Victim
- Hiring Discrimination
- “You Don’t Sound Black”
- “Don’t Blame Me, I Never Owned Slaves”
- Bootstrap Theory
- School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Police Murdering BIPOC
- Virtuous Victim Narrative
- Higher Infant & Maternal Mortality Rate for BIPOC
- “But What About Me?”
- “All Lives Matter”
- BIPOC as Halloween Costumes
- Racial Profiling
- Denial of White Privilege
- Prioritizing White Voices as Experts
- Treating Kids of Color as Adults
- Inequitable Healthcare
- Assuming Good Intentions Are Enough
- Not Challengin [sic] Racist Jokes
- Cultural Appropriation
- Eurocentric Beauty Standards
- Anti-Immigration Policies
- Considering AAVE [African-American Vernacular English] “Uneducated”
- Denial of Racism
- English-Only Initiatives
- Self-Appointed White Ally
- Fearing People of Color
- Police Brutality
- Fetishizing BIPOC
- Meritocracy Myth
- “You’re So Articulate”
- Celebration of Columbus Day
- Claiming Reverse-Racism
- Weaponized Whiteness
- Expecting BIPOC to Teach White People
- Believeing [sic] We Are “Post-Racial”
- “But We’re All One Big Human Family”/”There’s Only One Human Race”
- Housing Discrimination
The image is credited to several sources, the most recent being “The Conscious Kid,” an Instagram account that posted a similar graphic in May 2020. The flyer’s version seems to be a re-creation of the viral post; the anonymous author utilized a different color scheme and introduced several typos. The Conscious Kid’s caption asserts “white supremacy” manifests itself “regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred.”
View this post on Instagram
White supremacy is a system of structural and societal racism which privileges white people over everyone else, regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred. White racial advantages occur at both a collective and an individual level. We just updated this chart, which presents *some* of the ways people practice and reinforce white supremacy that they may not be aware of, or even think of as “white supremacy”. If you are unsure of what any of these terms mean, please feel free to look them up. There is an abundance of scholarship and research on each of these things. Image Source: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (2005). Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo (2016); Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero (@jewelspewels) (2019); The Conscious Kid (2020). #AntiRacism #AntiRacist #TeachersOfInstagram #WhitePrivilege
The fifth and last page of the attachment is a graphic of hands of different skin tones holding on to each other, with the slogan “The Army Is What You Make It” next to a U.S. Army logo.
The pyramid is what incensed Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who learned about the email from recipients. He has called the graphic a clear violation of the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees and members of the military from engaging in political activity at work.
After Brooks revealed the email’s existence on July 8, 2020, the Army issued a statement that said the “Project Inclusion listening tour handout included two unapproved pages that were sent out in error and immediately recalled.”
The Army statement said:
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.
The Army’s statement did not specify which other page was sent in error.
Brooks said in an interview with Breitbart News on Friday that he spoke to Army Under Secretary Jim McPherson but was not given any explanation for what happened.
“He is going to order a 15-6 investigation, and a colonel is going to head up the investigation, and he expects it to be thorough, and once they have the information of who did what when where and why, then they’ll be in a position to ascertain how best to handle this matter,” Brooks said.
“It would be fair to say that Under Secretary of the Army Jim McPherson, who I spoke with, was appalled at the email’s content,” he added.
Brooks said he has not spoken to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who launched Project Inclusion, which “Operation Inclusion” is apparently a part of.
Brooks said the “first step” of the 15-6 investigation will include forensic examination of computers, use of email addresses, and the interview of witnesses.
“Appropriate culprits can then be dealt with appropriately. Appropriately to me means fired,” he said.
“I would like to see everybody with authority over this matter, from commander in chief of the United States Army President Donald Trump on down, to become involved because of how egregious this conduct was,” he said.
“It was not only a blatant violation of the Hatch Act, it was also overt racism by the people involved,” he added.
Brooks said that email recipients have indicated to his office that other people than Mr. Pickard were distributing the email — raising the possibility that Pickard did not send it out on his own initiative.
“My office having personally communicated with recipients of the email, it appears that there were others distributing this racist Hatch Act violating email, not just Chaney Pickard,” Brooks said.
The congressman said he has no problem with the concept of eliminating racist attitudes, but that what happened was purposely divisive. He said:
It is one thing for the United States Army to help educate people in order to minimize or eliminate racist attitudes, and I applaud those kinds of efforts. It’s an entirely different thing for employees — particularly those of the United States Army to blatantly violate the Hatch Act and to engage in their own counter-racism.
“In my judgment, what happened here is symptomatic of a much bigger problem that America has where people are, for partisan political gain purposes, trying to divide us based on race, which is something that none of us have any control over,” he said.
“We’re born with that attribute which is wholly unrelated to our character, our conduct as people, and I would hope that those who are trying to divide us by race will ultimately be held accountable for the racial division that they themselves are causing.”