Trump channels Jim Crow era in announcing more militarized space
President Donald Trump made the demand for more weapons sound not only ridiculous but also implicitly racist on Monday when he announced a new branch of the military—Space Force.
Speaking at a White House meeting of the National Space Council, Trump declared, “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation,” and said he urged his “administration to embrace the budding commercial space industry.”
“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space. So important,” he said.
As the U.S. Air Force Space Command currently manages military operations in space, he said, “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force—separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important,” he said.
“Separate but equal” is the rationale on which Jim Crow laws rested for decades, so it was a noteworthy choice of words for an administration facing global outcry over its cruel immigration policies that some argue are rooted in racism.
Trump: “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal.”
“Separate but equal” was the racial segregation doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson and overturned in 1954 in Brown. pic.twitter.com/uy8pmfW9Um
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 18, 2018
Trump also joked that an individual making it to Mars before the U.S. would be acceptable “as long as it’s an American rich person, that’s good.”
A Space Force is not a new idea, and Trump himself mentioned the idea of such of a military branch in March, though the administration was against a similar proposal last year. For his part, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last year he opposed creating a new branch of military for space, though he also said last month he wants “to make the military more lethal in outer space.”
Some took to social media to denounce the directive as merely a distraction from the swelling outrage directed at the administration’s policy to rip children away from their asylum-seeking parents and send them to prisons. Others, meanwhile, noted the contrast of the administration being willing to spend money on a new branch of military while lawmakers claim a single-payer healthcare system would be too expensive, and Puerto Rico is still clamoring to get necessary resources following Hurricane Maria.
“Free college is too expensive! Universal healthcare is too expensive!”
“WE’RE BUILDING A FUCKIN’ SPACE FORCE! BOOYAH!”
— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) June 18, 2018
SPACE FORCE!? The motherfucker is starting SPACE FORCE!? Flint still doesn’t have clean water, Puerto Rico still doesn’t have power, and we’re starting FUCKING SPACE FORCE!?
— Chad Darnell (@ChadDarnell) June 18, 2018
Instead of a space force can we just get healthcare??
— Ally Maynard (@missmayn) June 18, 2018
Money for medicare for all? NOPE.
Money to get clean water in Flint? NOPE.
Money for education? NOPE.
Money to stop global warming? NOPE.
Money for a “space force” to combat a nonexistent threat? You bet your sweet ass.
And that my friends is everything wrong with the US.
— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) June 18, 2018
Here’s what I have to say about Trump’s Space Force:
He’s separating children from families and putting the children in prisons, cages and tents.
That’s the story. Just like the thousands of dead in Puerto Rico is the story. Fuck Space Force.
— Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) June 18, 2018
Of course, as author Belén Fernández recently argued, the U.S. government has consistently prioritized “the health of the arms industry over the health of the humans that are allegedly being defended from ubiquitous foreign nemeses, only to languish in sickness and poverty at home.”
She further posited that “Trump’s latest mission to convert outer space into a proper ‘war-fighting domain’ would seem to fit in rather nicely with mankind’s valiant quest to destroy itself.”