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There’s A Big Problem With That Viral Military Spouse Photo
As a one-time ‘Ebola czar’ under President Barack Obama, Democratic political operative Ron Klain spent months fighting to stop viral outbreaks. On Friday, though, he found himself in the middle of one.
May 11 marked Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which Klain decided to celebrate by bitching about the alleged gender and racial composition of the military spouses who joined Ivanka Trump and the White House in a now-viral tweet.
The assertion by Klain is clear: the White House is whitewashing the military!
But there’s a big problem: this photo doesn’t show what Klain says it does.
The photo was actually taken at the annual Joint Armed Forces of Washington Luncheon (JAFOWL) on April 24, not the White House. In fact, it only shows members of the Air Force Officers' Spouses' Club. I mean, you don’t have to be a clotheshorse to notice the dress Ivanka is wearing in the Klain photo matches the one she wore on April 24 and not the one she wore on May 11:
Here’s the thing: Klain’s not totally wrong. A 2016 Pentagonreport on DoD demographics found that minorities make up a third of enlisted and nearly a quarter (23%) of officers, an increase in recent years. And when it comes to elevating the voices and stories of underrepresented veterans, this photo is a fine illustration of exactly what not to do.
But it’s not even the right f*cking photo, and the JAFOWL context matters in explaining why there’s a lack of representation here. First, a little background on the group:
In June of 1977, the Navy Officers’ Wives’ Club contacted Art Buchwald’s office to ask if he would speak at one of its luncheons. Answering the telephone himself, Mr. Buchwald declined, saying that he received too many requests from military wives’ clubs. When asked, “What if all five of the clubs sponsored a joint luncheon?” he said he would accept the invitation. The presidents of the other military officers’ wives’ clubs in the area were contacted and all agreed it was a great idea! Thus, the Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ Luncheon became an annual affair.
Given that the wives in this photo chose to marry Air Force officers — 20 percent of whom identify as a racial minority, below the rate for officers across the entire U.S. armed forces — it would make sense that there might be a distinct under-representation of black and Asian military spouses, and it’s certainly a problem. But the issue isn’t that the White House only invited white women — it’s that organizations like JAFOWL, though they serve the military and veterans communities admirably, are stuck in the f*cking 1950s.
Many others believe that groups like JAFOWL reinforce a hierarchy where officers’ spouses have a louder and more prominent voice than enlisted spouses, and Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a fantastic chance to get the Pentagon’s attention on like this. Sadly, Ron Klain ruined it with an inaccurate cheap shot at the White House — and in an age where all quarters of the government shout down their critics as “fake news,” this sort of inaccuracy can muddle the waters on a subject indefinitely.
As the commander-in-chief might say: Sad!
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Sen. Rick Scott is backing a bipartisan bill that would allow service members to essentially sue the United States government for medical malpractice if they are injured in the care of military doctors.
The measure has already passed the House and it has been introduced in the Senate, where Scott says he will sign on as a co-sponsor.
"As a U.S. Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our military members, veterans and their families is my top priority," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.
Russia established an air base in the Syrian city where withdrawing US troops were pelted with potatoes
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a sprawling air base in northern Syria vacated by U.S. forces, the Russian Defence Ministry's Zvezda TV channel said on Friday.
On Thursday, Zvezda said Russia had set up a helicopter base at an airport in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, a move designed to increase Moscow's control over events on the ground there.
Qamishli is the same city where Syrian citizens pelted U.S. troops and armored vehicles with potatoes after President Donald Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops from Syria.