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September 27, 2023
Today we woke up to a reality where a U.S. Senator from Alabama (a man who used to coach hordes of young Black men who put their bodies on the line for a dollar and a dream) stated that he doesn’t want the U.S. military to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. This Senator is Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, the former football head coach of Auburn University. He has been blocking military appointments due to his opposition to what has been dubbed “abortion tourism" by narrow-minded detractors. It really is the federal government’s funding of abortions for women’s human health rights (women who also serve in the U.S. military)…since it is a reproductive healthcare process at the end of the day. Military women who are traveling to other states for abortions because of draconian statewide policies limiting their reproductive health coverage can be covered with their health care plans. However, for Tuberville, this is unjust and also an easy policy to demagogue to an ongoing power center within the modern conservative movement: “pro-lifers.” I use quotations for good reason as the name is language manipulation as the GOP passes laws that threaten women’s lives.
So as this one Senator holds up crucial military appointments to harm women even further, he also signals to the rest of the world that our national fighting force is susceptible to archaic political stances made with anti-intellectual innuendo and bigoted spite.
One of his interviews is reminiscent of Alabama of the Jim Crow years:
In fact, one of the flashpoints of the Jim Crow years was when President Harry Truman desegregated the military in 1948 to the chagrin of Americans who wished to uphold an alienating racial order. The Army at all levels resisted this push for desegregation despite the brave efforts of Black Americans who worked in the Pentagon or were in the armed services. Even after the initial order, the military struggled to move African Americans into leadership positions. Oftentimes, Black servicemen had to fight their own comrades in order to get proper equipment.
Over time, the military has become a source of escape for Americans of all backgrounds who seek an opportunity to travel, learn valuable skills, and gain exposure to different ways of living. One of the main energizers of the century-long push for the recognition of African Americans’ human rights was the experience these Americans had in fighting wars from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. During World War II, victory at home and victory abroad was a major theme for African Americans who experienced fascism in their own home territory while also being drafted to dodge shrapnel abroad during the campaigns against foreign fascism. African American women played a major role abroad despite meeting intense disrespect and discrimination from conservatives. Look up the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The “Double V” campaign was a way for this set of Americans to highlight the injustices in America and also participate in the larger global effort.
All of this is to say that Tommy Tuberville is a personification of the dark turns that the former party of Lincoln has made in the last 50 years. There is much written about the GOP’s “Southern Strategy” as well as the debates that highlight the Republican party’s decision to court a new conservative coalition that was electrified politically through its effort to violently and legally maintain age-old racial hierarchies.
But the bigotry is also directed at other minority groups and marginalized citizens. The effort to control women’s healthcare decisions is also a fanatical stance that can be steeped in conspiracies about White birthing rates. Tuberville is using the outcomes of the decision made by the extreme conservative-controlled Supreme Court in Dobbs v Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization to impose state-controlled limits on the health of a pregnant woman and her access to appropriate health coverage. To an objective observer, it can seem that Tuberville is not the brightest bulb, but one can also conclude he is symbolically engaging in what has become a GOP mainstay: crippling American processes and democracy to uphold White male supremacy.
A nation can only be as strong as its weakest link and Tuberville is one of the weak links. America refuses to join modern nations because of a revanchist Lost Cause view of the world that the GOP has weaponized to transfer wealth from the American middle class to a small wealthy portion of the nation through unpopular austerity measures and the destruction of social safety.
Even Mexico is more progressive on this aspect of women’s healthcare than the United States.
In short order, the U.S. Congress must codify reproductive rights and our nation must reckon with our brutal history of racial exploitation. That is how we perpetuate the American century and not let our democracy fall because of the immaturity and ignorance of angry racists.
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