New Doozy of a Trumpy Critical-Race-Theory-Obsessed Group Sets Sights on Polluting the Military
There’s a new organization in town — and by “in town” I mean in Colorado Springs, aka the Evangelical Vatican. This new organization is called STARRS, which stands for Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? Unless what you mean by being “against racism and radicalism” is being against the Black Lives Matter movement and the bugaboo of Critical Race Theory.
The organization was formed in reaction to the U.S. Air Force Academy football team making a video in support of Black Lives Matter. This was too much for the founders of STARRS to bear. According to Rod Bishop, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret), STARRS board of directors chairman and president:
The organization was formed in reaction to the U.S. Air Force Academy football team making a video in support of Black Lives Matter.
“The video was naïve and an unintended endorsement of a Marxist political organization, Black Lives Matter, and we discovered the invasion of this poisonous neo-Marxist ideology was occurring across the Services.”
In a November 1, 2021, STARRS press release, promising an “Orbit Shot“ (whatever that means) on Veterans Day in Colorado Springs, Bishop continued:
“STARRS recognizes that America is battling an enemy that has infiltrated our military and our service academies. As former service members and American patriots, our oath to defend the Constitution has no expiration date—that’s why we’re leading the fight to eradicate racism and radicalism from our armed forces.”
STARRS, claims its press release, has grown to over 3,000 members and is working now with the military. According to Bishop:
“We are addressing issues to promote unity, not division. STARRS seeks to educate military leaders, the men and women that serve, and the American people of the dangers of the cojoined, anti-American ideology of neo-Marxism and Critical Race Theory.”
On a November 3 podcast called “The Professor's Record with David K. Clements,” STARRS co-founder and vice president, Ron Scott, a retired Air Force colonel, explained that STARRS, because they are retired military, can do what active duty personnel can’t. According to Scott, the problem for active duty service members is that they’re not being asked to do anything that’s illegal so there is nothing they can do about this so-called Marxist indoctrination, histrionically adding:
“If you recall, during the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler advanced to positions of power legally, and all of his actions, all of his orders were legal, and so that becomes a real dilemma for those that are active duty.”
The STARRS press release also lists a number of organizations that STARRS is “collaborating with,” and that what really caught our attention here at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). As MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein put it, STARRS and its collaborator are a “rogues gallery of fundamentalist Christian nationalist villains with whom we have crossed swords in the past.”
Let’s start with STARRS Board of Directors Chairman and President Rod Bishop. We immediately recognized that name from way back in 2008 when this now-imaginary-Marxists-fighter was the commander of The Third Air Force at RAF Lakenheath, the largest U.S. Air Force base in England, where he approved a suicide prevention presentation titled "A New Approach To Suicide Prevention: Developing Purpose-Driven Airmen.” The dripping-with-religion presentation, shown at a commander's call that was mandatory for an estimated 1,000 of Lakenheath's Air Force personnel and sent out by email to the entire base of over 5,000 the following day was based on Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, as the presentation’s name implies. For the whole story, see my article from the time, “Creationism: The Latest in Military Suicide Prevention.”
Now let’s have a look-see at STARRS’s collaborators — a what a bunch of Trump-worshiping, big-lie-promoting, BLM-is-Marxist-spewing, Critical-Race-Theory-fearmongering, Christian nationalists they are!
First, there’s the Center for Military Readiness, an organization whose big causes before now have been fighting the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and opposing female service members being treated on an equal basis with men, claiming that the military is being used for “social experiments.” None of this is surprising for an organization with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson on its advisory board. MRFF has come up against Dobson and his wife Shirley, who ran the annual Capitol Hill National Day of Prayer extravaganza, or as I called it “the Pharisee Prayer Pageant,” a description that rankled Dobson, from 1991 to 2016, and year after year had military personnel violating regulations by appearing and speaking at these evangelical shindigs in uniform. In the summer of 2020, the Center for Military Readiness jumped on the anti-BLM bandwagon with articles like “Keep ‘Woke’ Ideology Out of the Department of Defense,” which began:
“Imagine this: The streets of Army bases or the decks of Navy ships are painted with large yellow letters saluting the controversial organization, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ At the Army/Navy game, players take a knee instead of saluting the flag.
“At all the military service academies, ‘woke’ instructors are teaching mandatory ‘critical race theory’ courses. Non-minority midshipmen and cadets must confess their own ‘white privilege’ and agree that all institutions are racist, and a person’s denial of racism proves they are racist.
“Also imagine military officers accepting denials of promotions if they do not fit the desired diversity quotas. To overcome this disadvantage, some promotable officers start book clubs for subordinates to study best sellers like White Fragility.”
The next STARRS collaborator is an outfit that calls itself Flag Officers 4 America. This group, which consists exclusively of retired flag officers (generals and admirals), was recently formed, seemingly for the sole purpose of opposing President Biden and his administration, and made national news in May 2021 when it issued an open letter signed by 124 of its retired flag officer members that began:
“Our Nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776. The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.
“During the 2020 election an ‘Open Letter from Senior Military Leaders’ was signed by 317 retired Generals and Admirals and, it said the 2020 election could be the most important election since our country was founded. ‘With the Democrat Party welcoming Socialists and Marxists, our historic way of life is at stake.’ Unfortunately, that statement’s truth was quickly revealed, beginning with the election process itself.
“Without fair and honest elections that accurately reflect the ‘will of the people’ our Constitutional Republic is lost. Election integrity demands insuring there is one legal vote cast and counted per citizen. Legal votes are identified by State Legislature’s approved controls using government IDs, verified signatures, etc. Today, many are calling such commonsense controls ‘racist’ in an attempt to avoid having fair and honest elections. Using racial terms to suppress proof of eligibility is itself a tyrannical intimidation tactic. Additionally, the ‘Rule of Law’ must be enforced in our election processes to ensure integrity. The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020. Finally, H.R.1 & S.1, (if passed), would destroy election fairness and allow Democrats to forever remain in power violating our Constitution and ending our Representative Republic.”
The letter also questioned President Biden’s mental and physical fitness, saying:
“The mental and physical condition of the Commander in Chief cannot be ignored. He must be able to quickly make accurate national security decisions involving life and limb anywhere, day or night. Recent Democrat leadership’s inquiries about nuclear code procedures sends a dangerous national security signal to nuclear armed adversaries, raising the question about who is in charge. We must always have an unquestionable chain of command.”
Flag Officers 4 America is without question a partizan political group, perpetuating the big that the 2020 election was rigged. Why then would STARRS, which claims to want the military to be apolitical, be collaborating with this group that has no other purpose besides being political? The answer is obvious. STARRS doesn’t want an apolitical military; it wants a military inculcated with its anti-democratic, anti-American, Trump-worshiping politics.
Among the the flag officer signatories of this group’s open letters are names that are very familiar to MRFF, such as retired Lt. Gen. Jerry “Jesus is coming back with an AR-15” Boykin, the virulently Islamophobic former general who MRFF got disinvited from speaking at a Fort Riley, Kansas, prayer breakfast in 2016. Boykin is also the executive vice president of the anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council. Also among the group is retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral William “Dean” Lee, who, in a flagrant violation of regulations, spoke in uniformat one of the aforementioned Dobson National Day of Prayer jamborees in 2013.
But wait! There’s more! Flag Officers 4 America doesn’t end with just this one organization. It has a sister organization called the Committee to Support & Defend, which is open to all former military, not just flag officers. The homepage of this group’s website states:
“As former members of the U.S. military who have proudly served our nation, we express our support for Constitutional freedom and liberty and our concern for our country as many powerful forces seek to bring Socialism and Marxism to our land.”
At the helm of this Flag Officers 4 America sister organization is its executive director Matthew Lohmeier. Remember him? He was the Space Force commander who was relieved of his position as commander of the 11th Space Warning Squadron after self-publishing his book Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military, in which he identified himself as an active duty officer, then going on a podcast and publicly accusing the military of implementing “leftist practices” and saying that the military’s diversity training “is rooted in critical race theory, which is rooted in Marxism,” and, finally, saying of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin: ”I don't demonize the man, but I want to make it clear to both him and every service member this agenda, it will divide us, it will not unify us." Lohmeier’s book, which became a bestseller after Lohmeier became a poster boy for defending America against Marxism and Critical Race Theory, is also featured at the top of the list in the STARRS website’s “Book Club.”
The Committee to Support & Defend is a project of yet another pro-Trump, imaginary-Marxist-fighting organization, the American Constitutional Rights Union (ACRU), whose director, Edwin Meese III, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by none other than their venerated ex-president Trump. The ACRU is also promoting the lie that the assault on fair elections is coming from liberals, saying on its website:
“For several decades, liberals have initiated an ongoing assault of the fairness of elections. They do so in three primary ways: 1. fostering the false narrative that presenting identification to vote is ‘discrimination’; 2. encouraging liberal state legislators to pass laws that lessen ballot protections; and 3. finding progressive judges willing to step out of their lawful constitutional authority and make changes to codified election protocols. …”
“As 2021 dawned, a new threat has emerged to election integrity — the cynically named ‘For the People Act,’ or H.R. 1. This federal legislation steals every aspect of state control over election procedures from our states. As one of its first 2021 projects, ACRU created a Fact Sheet about of H.R. 1 to educate the public on this legislation — which rattles the very cornerstone of our liberty.”
The ACRU also promotes on its website a petition calling on Secretary of Defense Austin to:
“… shut down the Countering Extremism Working Group; fire its Director, Bishop Garrison; prohibit further CRT and similar training of armed forces personnel; reinstate a brilliant officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lohmeier—who has warned against actual extremism within the Defense Department—as the Commander of the 11th Space Warning Group; and restore to Service other personnel who have been wrongly accused of “extremism,” but who are, like LTC Lohmeier, simply opponents of anti-constitutional ideologies like Marxism.”
“A group of concerned U.S. Naval Academy alumni from the Class of 1969 has organized to raise our voices against the current social trends of critical race theory, diversity, equity, etc., that we believe are negatively impacting the quality of education and product coming out of the Naval Academy, the readiness of our military, and the very fabric and culture of equality and fairness in our nation. It is our shared legacy that we seek to honor and protect.”
The Calvert Task Group 69 links to a petition written by David Horowitz, whose history the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) aptly sums up:
“Despite Horowitz being a founding intellectual member of the New Left in the 1960s, and an advocate for civil rights and equality, he has since the late 1980s become a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements.”
Horowitz is the founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which “is known for compiling McCarthyite lists of students, professors, and administrators and plastering campuses with posters accusing them of being subversive,” according to the SPLC.
Horowitz’s petition, which calls for the removal of Secretary of Defense Austin, begins:
“No institution in America – from government offices to schoolrooms to corporate boardrooms and beyond – is safe today from the divisive racism of Critical Race Theory and the ‘1619 Project.’ both of which posit that United States history is rooted in slavery and white supremacy, and that “whiteness” is an incurable disease. The institution whose subversion poses the greatest threat to our national security is the U.S. military, whose head is Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. General Austin is a determined advocate of these repulsive anti-American views.
“As Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin has incorporated both Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project as core elements of the Pentagon’s military training programs, under the guise of ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.’ He has further ordered a purging of the military ranks of what he calls ‘extremists,’ defined as opponents of these noxious views and supporters of former president Donald Trump.”
And, last but not least, is STARRS’s token black collaborator, Take Charge Minnesota … because, you know, they’re supposedly fighting racism.
Take Charge Minnesota was founded by Kendall Qualls, the 2020 Republican candidate in Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District, who was trounced by Democrat Dean Phillips. According to Qualls, “[I]t’s insulting to hear that Black people can’t get ahead because of systemic racism.”
After his 2020 election loss, Qualls was pointedly asked by a journalist from the Minnesota Reformer, “The GOP is increasingly making space in the conservative coalition for people who have views that are at least adjacent to white supremacism. Many such individuals have spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference in recent years. How do you navigate the tension of being in coalition with these types of people?”
“I can tell you exactly who the Republican party is. It’s the party of Abraham Lincoln. It’s the party of Ulysses S. Grant, who sent troops into the South to protect Black Americans from the Ku Klux Klan. It’s the party of Dwight Eisenhower, who sent federal troops to the South to ensure Black Americans could get to an equal access school. It’s the party of Ronald Reagan, who appointed the first Black person as National Security Advisor. And on and on.”
Qualls’s response, of course, did not address the reporter’s point about today’s Republican Party’s condoning of white supremacism, but evaded the issue with a handful of examples from the altogether different and no longer existent Republican Party of history.
According to Qualls, racial disparity in America didn’t begin until a mere five decades ago, saying:
“After Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, the government offered a financial incentive for women to have children outside of wedlock and remain unmarried: welfare. That was the catalyst that changed the Black community, and that was the beginning of disparity.”
Really? Racial disparity didn’t begin until after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination? Then what was Martin Luther King, Jr. fighting against?
Being an Army veteran as well, Qualls was the perfect pick for the racist STARRS and its other white supremacist collaborators to tap as their “black friend.”
As MRFF’s Mikey Weinstein said of STARRS after just a cursory glance upon finding out about the existence of this new threat to our military:
“[P]art and parcel of every foundational aspect of STARRS appears to blatantly evidence the pervasive prejudice, bigotry, evil, base, vile conspiratorial, and ubiquitous ‘hatred of the other’ which is endemic in the former disgraced President Trump, his organization, and acolytes. STARRS appears to be specifically designed to buttress and perpetuate the domination, supremacy, and tyranny of white, straight, male Christian privilege throughout our U.S. military.”
In STARRS we see the same combination of Trump-worship, white supremacy, and Christian nationalism that we saw on January 6. Now we have an organization of retired military personnel, collaborating with other organizations of retired military personnel, all of whom have their sights set on indoctrinating our current military with their anti-American ideology, lies, and conspiracy theories. STARRS is an organization that needs to be monitored carefully, and MRFF will be doing just that.