It was the summer of 2020. Black Lives Matter riots were terrorizing, destroying, and burning American cities. And the first black deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command told everyone in the Air Force that he was terrified that white people could kill him at any moment.
“Here I am as a lieutenant general in the United States Air Force,” then Lt. Gen Anthony Cotton whined to Air Force Magazine. “When I see what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks—and the list goes on and on.”
“That could be me,” he claimed.
Since Cotton was, unlike Breonna Taylor, probably not harboring an armed drug dealer who opened fire on police or, unlike George Floyd, overdosing on fentanyl during a struggle with police as the climax to a long criminal career, that was a disingenuous smear from a top officer.
The spectacle of successful black men like Obama, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, or Gen. Anthony Cotton falsely claiming that America is so racist that any of them could suffer the fate of career criminals simply because of an accident of skin color is pathetic and disgusting. The Merck CEO or the Air Force general are as likely to suffer the fate of George Floyd as their white counterparts are to end up like a dead white meth addict shot in a raid in Georgia.
But Cotton knew what he was doing. What he was doing was dishonorable and self-serving.
And it worked.
Two years after complaining about police lights flashing in his rearview mirror and someone challenging his parking spot, Cotton has been nominated by Biden to head U.S. Strategic Command.
It’s been a rapid ascent for Gen. Anthony Cotton who had been appointed to head Air Force Global Strike Command last year, after being Deputy Commander of the same in 2019, up from the head of Air University in 2018. Air University, like a lot of Air Force and Navy educational institutions, had gone painfully woke. And Cotton earned his political stripes in the process. Gen. Anthony Cotton, a four-star general, racked up some “firsts” attached to his name in the Black Lives Matter era, but that never seems to lessen the accusations of racism.
Charles Q. Brown, Jr. is the Air Force’s first black chief of staff, and has been tipped to replace Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Milley. That hadn’t stopped Brown from crying racism and smearing the country he claims to serve. In a speech in which Brown “seemed to barely contain his rage”, he ranted “The the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I’ve sworn my adult life to support and defend have not always delivered ‘liberty and equality’ to all.”
“I am a Black man who happens to be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force,” Kaleth O. Wright, the second black man to serve as the highest ranking noncommissioned officer, tweeted. “I am George Floyd…I am Philando Castile, I am Michael Brown.”
They are following a familiar identity politics career model that’s bad for America but good for unprincipled men who are willing to smear their country and play the victim.
Perhaps it’s time for the Air Force to stop having conversations about racism mandated by racists and for our nation to stop handing over our national defense to those who hate her.