Fox Suggests Diversity Initiatives to Blame for Soldier Deaths in Jordan

U.S. officials are struggling to explain how three Army reservists were killed by a drone strike at a military base in Jordan. Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo thinks she’s found the answer: diversity initiatives.

Bartiromo suggested to Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas) on Tuesday that the attack may have been caused by DEI, a shorthand for “diversity, equity, and inclusion ”and the latest right-wing anti-diversity boogeyman.

“Maybe [the military is] focused too much on DEI,” Bartiromo said. “There’s a concern at the FBI because they’re dropping the FBI special agent requirements in the name of DEI. I’m just wondering if that has anything to do with missing an important drone that just killed three of our heroes.”

The three service members killed in the attack, Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Spec. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, and Spec. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, were all Black.

U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal on Monday that the Sunday attack occurred partially because servicemembers confused the approaching enemy aircraft with an American drone that was returning to the base at around the same time. The Pentagon added that while their investigation is ongoing, the attack had the “footprints” of the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah.

Republicans have been hammering military officials, accusing them of crippling the Defense Department’s military capabilities by promoting diversity and inclusion within its ranks. “Wokeness,” DEI, and Critical Race Theory are just a few of the conservative dog whistles used to malign efforts to curb discrimination against underrepresented groups in American institutions, particularly people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ groups.

Earlier this month, conservatives began boycotting various airlines, citing bogus claims that the aviation industry’s DEI initiatives were allowing unqualified pilots to captain planes. The panic gained steam after several highly reported malfunctions of Boeing’s 737 Max 9 model, including a door flying off an Alaska Airlines plane mid-flight. Instead of leveling scrutiny at Boeing, conservatives chose to attack female and non-white pilots.

“If I see a Black pilot, I’m going to be like, ‘Boy, I hope he’s qualified,’” Turning Point USA founder and director Charlie Kirk said on an episode of his podcast. Tesla billionaire and X owner Elon Musk asked his 170 million followers if they “want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety? That is actually happening.”

The false notion that diversity makes industries and institutions less safe has been around for some time now, particularly when it comes to right-wing attacks against military leadership. Before his firing from Fox News, white nationalist commentator Tucker Carlson was criticized by military officials after he attacked the Defense Department for accommodating the needs of pregnant Air Force servicemembers.

In June of last year, Trump claimed the military had “gone woke” during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. “You know, our military is great. A lot of things going on with our military with the woke and all this nonsense,” he said. “They’re not learning to fight and protect us from some very bad people. They want to go woke. They want to go woke. That’s all they talk about now. I see letters that are being sent. It’s horrible.”

While Republicans claim to be deeply concerned over the readiness and capabilities of the military, they also seem perfectly comfortable obstructing its functioning. In December, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) relinquished a months-long blockade against the approval of military appointments over his opposition to the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing service members, veterans, and dependents for travel expenses related to abortion and reproductive health care. The freeze on nomination approvals became so large that at one point three branches of the U.S. military, the Navy, Marines, and Air Force, were forced to operate since August without a Senate-confirmed leader.

Tuberville was also widely criticized last year after he explicitly defended the presence of white nationalists within the U.S. armed forces, and criticized initiatives aimed at weeding out racism from the enlisted ranks. “They call them that,” the senator said. “I call them Americans.”

In September, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley addressed the accusations that the armed forces were too “woke.”

“This military is a lot of things, but woke, it’s not. So I take exception to that. I think that people say those things for reasons that are their own reasons, but it’s not true. It’s not accurate,” Milley said. “What I see is a military that’s exceptionally strong. It’s powerful; it’s ready. In fact, our readiness rates, the way we measure readiness, is better now than they’ve been in years.”

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