On Wednesday, Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama went on the “Bloomberg: Balance of Power” show to discuss the impending government shutdown as well as his battle to weaken our military. Host Joe Mathieu asked Tuberville about voting against President Joe Biden’s pick for the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown. After saying how great Brown is, that he’s doing a good job, and how it’s not even really that important a job (begging the question of why he voted against his nomination in the first place), Tuberville added this: “But I heard him say a few things that really didn’t fit with me in terms of making our military better and better.”
Now, I heard some things that he talked about, about race and things that he want to mix into the military. Let me tell you something. Our military is not an equal opportunity employer. We're looking for the best, the best, to do whatever. We're not looking for different groups, social justice groups. We don't want to single-handedly destroy our military from within. We all need to be one.
Let’s put a pin in that. The military has had an equal opportunity policy since July 26, 1948, when President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces. The first point of the order—“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin”—makes things crystal clear. And it's been a policy protected since 1964 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
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Tuberville has demonstrated one superpower: the ability to talk even when he has his foot in his mouth. As the interview proceeded, he reminded everyone that he was a college football coach once upon a time, then he threw in some casual racism. “I listen to all these generals and admirals, and we have some great ones. We have some great military people,” Tuberville bloviated. “But there are some in there that have a different agenda to make sure that they get their quotas in. And we're not a quota. This is a military …”
Mathieu pushed back to ask what exactly Tuberville means when he says “race.” And the senator came back with this:
Well, he came out and said we need certain groups, more pilots, certain groups to have an opportunity to be pilots. Listen, I want it to be on merit. I want our military to be the best. I want the best people. I don't care who they are. Men, women. It doesn't make any difference. Catholics, Protestants.
Here’s how equal opportunity works: Because our country has a long history of discriminatory policies and hiring practices, many groups have not been allowed into important positions and fields, even though they merit it. Since Tuberville enjoys dining off his sports analogies, here’s an example:
On July 7, 1948, a 42-year-old-ish Satchel Paige made his Major League Baseball debut with Cleveland. Owner Bill Veeck, when asked by reporters if signing the aged rookie was a “publicity stunt,” told them, “If Satch were white, of course he would have been in the majors 25 years earlier and the question would not have been before the house.” Sporting News writer J.G. Taylor Spink wrote, “To bring in a pitching rookie of Paige's age is to demean the standards of baseball.” Later, Paige would remark, “I demeaned the big leagues considerable that year. I won six and lost one.”
Paige went on to pitch spectacularly, helping Cleveland secure the American League pennant that year in a tight race. The average retirement age of a modern baseball player is 29.5. The average career length of a pitcher is less than six years. Paige pitched on and off until he was well into his 50s, and the questions people ask about him now revolve around whether or not he was the greatest pitcher of all time—of any race.
Tuberville is the only person filling a “quota” here: as a white supremacist in office for the Republican Party.
Tell Tommy Tuberville: Stop endangering national security