Of all the things I didn’t need in my life, this Huffington Post headline probably tops the list: “Becoming A Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect Of Serving Your Country?” So begins this Aug. 17 opinion column by David Fagin — “writer, musician, Trump Resister, food snob” — which has, predictably, brought him a heaping helping of internet backlash. Despite his lack of qualifications, a snide clickbait headline that he admits was “provocative” and written to be “eye-catching,” and the general air of a guy writing about a topic that he has virtually no engagement on, Fagin dredges up a couple of common fallacies in trying to connect race-hate and wearing the uniform of the U.S. military. They’re worth parsing.
In late May, 16 female cadets in their fourth year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point gathered in their grey dress uniforms, complete with crossed sabres, for an “old corps” photo — a tradition among those graduating. In a show of pride and solidarity, these women raised their fists and a photo was snapped. The problem? These 16 women are black, and as the photo went viral, a narrative developed that these women had intended to align themselves with the “Black Lives Matter” movement.