By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
If there is anything that the emergence of and adherence to Trumpism has done, it has been the revelation of some ugly truths about America, her institutions and her beliefs.
The actions of followers of the former president have revealed the depth of their racism, which has been as troubling as it is dangerous. It is troubling because I, for one, had held onto a trust of America’s systems, even though I knew that racism has always informed and infected every aspect of American life.
I believed that the military held itself to a higher standard, though, and that it demanded its leaders to love the country they fought for more than a need to hold onto their racist beliefs. Even though I knew racism existed in the military and that Black soldiers were treated abdominally in too many instances, I trusted that the powers that be demanded that the officers in the military be held to a higher standard, thereby providing a guardrail of support for our men and women who were serving.
But the actions and words of former Army General Michael Flynn, who also served for a time as the national security advisor to the former president, has shaken me into a somber reality, not just because of what he has said and done, but also, and maybe more importantly, because the military brass has not done anything to sanction him and call him out for what sounds like treasonous statements, according to MarketWatch.
And the apparent participation of military personnel – some active and some retired – in the Jan. 6 insurrection has likewise shaken something loose in my capacity to believe in the institutions of this country, as reported by NPR.
The fact that members of the military – including high-ranking officers – are on the battlefield to destroy this country has admittedly shaken me to my core, and the reason for their disrespect for this government – their white supremacist beliefs – has done more to undo my faith and trust in America’s institutions than I ever imagined possible.
When did it become OK for a military officer to openly advocate for the overthrow of the government? While it is troubling, it seems obvious that many of our “fighting men and women” have fought for this country in spite of not being pleased about the presence of Black people – on or off the battlefield. But when did the military adopt a culture of silence as one of its own has actively pushed for this country’s government to be overthrown?
Are the children of Black and Brown Americans who are in the military safe? As they fight to protect and defend this country, are they ironically fighting to protect, defend and perpetuate white supremacy?
The cult-like behavior of so many White people has been troubling. It feels like they are not going to stop their angry and aggressive behavior until this country falls into the grip of a civil war – which many of them seem to want, BU Today reported. What they seem to want is the former president to take back power – in effect, stealing the presidency – so that things can “get back” to where white supremacists believe they should be. Aided by White Evangelicals and White members of mainline Protestant denominations, members of the military are acting as though their determination to save and preserve white supremacy and white dominance in this country is a mandate from God.
I had held the military as a sacred institution – led, guided, shaped and formed by a commitment to the highest values. It was comforting on a very deep level – but that comfort was misplaced. There was no way the military could be so honorable if one considered the wretched way it has historically treated Black soldiers, while in the military and when they’ve completed their tours. The uniforms and the medals cannot hide the rotten core of white supremacy which, it seems, is a definitive component of the military as well as of this country.
On this Memorial Day, I find myself making myself understand and accept that the ideals I thought American soldiers were fighting for were not limited to our rights as Americans and our right to exist as a sovereign nation. They were also fighting to preserve America’s white supremacist government. I have written that the God of White and Black people is not the same.
Neither is the country of Black and White people, and that is a painful and uncomfortable truth.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.