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Last month, we reported on the story of Col. Benjamin Jonsson, a decorated officer with the U.S. Air Force whose promotion is being stalled by a single white-and-fragile Republican, Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt, who has no military experience of his own, but thinks he knows enough about what’s good for the military to stand against Jonsson all because, in 2020, the veteran penned an op-ed piece calling out systemic racism and white fragility in the military.

According to, Jonsson’s nomination to become a one-star general was set to expire May 1, because, under U.S. military law, when a military officer’s promotion requires Senate confirmation, that confirmation must be approved within 18 months of their nomination. However, a president has the option to extend that grace period for another 12 months.

Here’s what the hold Schmitt has put on Jonsson’s confirmation means for the highly decorated, highly qualified and highly praised colonel. From

A hold cannot prevent a nominee from being confirmed, but it means the Senate must take a roll call vote rather than approving the nominee in a voice vote as it typically does for military officers. Senate Democratic leaders have largely resisted roll call votes for military officers with holds on them, arguing that doing so risks irreparably politicizing the military promotions process.

Schmitt’s December statement did not cite any specific actions Jonsson took to warrant a hold. But conservative media and advocacy groups have largely focused on an op-ed that Jonsson wrote in July 2020 about systemic racism in the military.

Actually, Schmitt has framed his opposition to Jonsson’s promotion as part of his mission to rid the military of DEI policy and DEI advocates, despite the fact that Jonsson is a white man who didn’t mention DEI in the opinion piece that got the Klan-derwear of Schmitt and his other GOP cohorts in a bunch.

Here’s what I wrote in our previous report:

“It is long past time to root out divisive DEI policies and their advocates from our apolitical military,” Schmitt said in a statement justifying his decision to block Jonsson’s promotion to brigadier (one star) general, according to the Washington Post. “Leaders must emphasize unity of mission and purpose, not our immutable differences if we are to maintain our military as the greatest meritocracy in the world.”

Schmitt is actually telling on himself here because Jonsson’s op-ed actually made no mention of diversity, equity and inclusion policies in or outside of the military. It was largely focused around the disparity in which Black officers are disciplined in comparison to their white counterparts and the degree to which Black veterans are ignored or dismissed when they complain about the racism they experience. However, even if Jonsson’s article was about DEI, that narrative would have been backed by the official Air Force standards.

“Diversity of thought, experience, and perspectives is critical to innovation and maintaining the Air Force’s competitive advantage,” the document states. “Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility are about strengthening our force and ensuring our long-term viability to support Air Force missions with dignity and respect.”

Anti-woke and anti-DEI propaganda has become a staple in conservative politics. White conservatives have effectively turned DEI into an anti-Black racial slur, and, in Jonsson’s case, it’s being applied where it isn’t even relevant. Again, Schmitt has never been in the military. He has no first-hand experience in what issues military personnel face, especially not the issues posed by Black veterans who say they are being mistreated because of their race.

All Jonsson did was draw from his own observations as a man who has had a very full career as chief of staff for the Illinois-based Air Mobility Command, which oversees 110,000 employees, according to the Washington Post, which also noted that Jonsson “is fluent in Arabic, has seven Air Medals, and flew 900 combat hours over Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.”

But Jonsson spoke up for Black veterans who have grappled with racism in the military, and that was enough for Schmitt, a white civilian with no experience in the armed forces or with being on the wrong end of systemic racism, do dismiss Jonsson as a woke, DEI-loving, divisive plague on the U.S. military.

Maybe Schmitt’s real issue is that he’s white, fragile and chock-full of racial resentment. And maybe that bias (and racism, frankly) is harming the military by blocking a decorated and highly regarded colonel from being promoted.

And by “maybe,” I mean that’s demonstrably what’s happening here.


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