The Back Road: The riverboat gambler’s war against military women  

The Back Road: The riverboat gambler’s war against military women  

Andrew Malekoff

One in five members of the U.S. military are women and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is determined to eradicate their access to essential reproductive healthcare.

He has tied this to his vote to prevent advancing military assignments and promotions, including installing a new Marine commandant to fill the vacancy left by Gen. David Berger. By politicizing the process, he has raised serious concerns about the adverse impact on U.S. military readiness. The Marine Corps is now left without a leader for the first time in more than 100 years.

In addition to a gap in leadership, those “who would be most hurt here are our lowest ranking service members and their families,” says Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). “The higher-ranking members — like other more well-off members of our society — will have the personal resources to travel,” while the younger members do not.

Our allies are watching. Our adversaries are watching. The world is watching. What they see is one person, one U.S senator, capable of interfering with U.S. military readiness.

The challenges military women now face remind me of a line from the epic novel Pachinko: “Living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.” Women in the U.S. military bring their courage, competence, and patriotism to serve and protect Americans every day. If fair weather patriots like Tuberville prevail in interfering with their reproductive rights, fewer women will be inclined to enlist and faithfully serve.

NPR reports that, according to the Pentagon, Tuberville’s actions have “already stalled more than 260 nominations of senior officers and could balloon to 650 by the end of the year.”

Tuberville has aligned himself with white nationalists who share his views on reproductive rights. When challenged about the racist ideology of white nationalism he said, according to the Guardian online news, “I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican. That’s what we’re called all the time. A Maga person.”

Author Fran Lebowitz offered some insight into what may have contributed to Tuberville’s descent down the white nationalist rabbit hole: “Trump allows people to express their racism and bigotry in a way that they haven’t been able to in quite a while and they really love him for that.”

In further defending himself Tuberville stated that in his 40-year role as a football coach, once nicknamed ‘The Riverboat Gambler’, he “dealt” with many minorities and that that disqualifies him as being racist. Plantation owners also “dealt” with many minorities. Does it disqualify them as well?

The Dunning–Kruger effect might also help in understanding the Tuberville mindset, as it were. It is when individuals overrate their ability and knowledge and assume a false sense of superiority. Trump, the self-proclaimed “stable genius,” is America’s poster boy for the Dunning–Kruger effect. During his White House residency, he attempted to project a sense of competency, which we now know does not exist aside from gaslighting and spinning conspiracy theories to cultivate true believers to empty their pockets and embrace MAGA extremism.

MAGA disciples like coach Tuberville have fallen prey to Trump’s cynicism about the U.S. military. “Trump’s view of the military was that anyone who served was a sucker, anyone who was injured in the line of duty was a loser, and prisoners of war were less noble than soldiers who didn’t get captured by enemy armies,” wrote NY Times reporter Michael Schmidt in his book ‘Donald Trump V. The United States.’  Schmidt added that Trump’s sentiments about military service were confirmed by Trump’s Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, whose son Robert was killed in action while on a patrol in Afghanistan.

Perhaps understanding Tuberville is not that complicated after all. Rolling Stone magazine stated it simply in a recent headline: “Tommy Tuberville Is Either Extremely Dumb or Extremely Racist.”

Or, as they go on to suggest, he could be both.

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