US Military’s Top-Ranking Jewish Officer Pledges Renewed Fight Against Racism in Armed Forces
The highest-ranking Jewish officer in the US military has issued a candid condemnation of “racial prejudice” and “systemic discrimination” in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.
In a memo distributed on Monday night, Gen. David Goldfein — the chief of staff of the US Air Force — said that “every American should be outraged that the conduct exhibited by police in Minneapolis can still happen in 2020.”
Floyd’s killing was a “national tragedy,” he noted.
Addressing racism within the Air Force, Goldfein remarked: “Sometimes it’s explicit, sometimes it’s subtle, but we are not immune to the spectrum of racial prejudice, systemic discrimination and unconscious bias.”
He continued: “We see this in the apparent inequity in our application of military justice. We will not shy away from this; as leaders and as airmen we will own our part and confront it head on.”
Goldfein’s unprecedented comments followed a passionate Twitter thread posted by his top enlisted advisor Kaleth Wright — the chief master sergeant of the Air Force — that declared,” I am George Floyd.”
Chief Wright — who is the second black man in history to be the Air Force’s top enlisted leader — listed the names of African-American men who died at the hands of police officers.
“Who am I?” Wright began. “I am a Black man who happens to be Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. I am George Floyd…I am Philando Castile, I am Michael Brown, I am Alton Sterling, I am Tamir Rice.”
An unnamed Air Force official told the Air Force Times on Wednesday that Gen. Goldfein was aware and supportive of Chief Wright’s plans to speak out on Monday.
“To the Airmen who are mourning, angry, or weary of the battle against racial prejudice, discrimination, bias, and systemic discrimination, Chief Wright and I recognize your pain,” Goldfein wrote in his memo.
Wright confirmed on Monday that he had ordered an independent review of the Air Force’s justice system after a series of reports that indicated it disproportionately punished young black airmen.