Wars don't affect everyone equally.
They say the best way to overcome a fear response is to fully experience the source of your anxiety.
So whether or not World War III is imminent in the wake of Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, let's sit down and visualize what that would look like. Who would fight in World War III? How would domestic life in the U.S. change? What would happen to Twitter?!
Immediately after the news of the lethal air strike broke, cynical commentary from #BlackTwitter shone new light on the threat of global catastrophe: Wars don't affect everyone equally. With the hashtag accounting for hundreds of thousands of posts by early morning, Black Twitter flooded the conversation with reminders that the political decisions defining the U.S.'s relations with other countries are made largely by white men, as 52% of white women and 63% of white men voted for Trump, who ordered the strike without congressional authorization. Responses to the possibility of World War III that included light-hearted memes and gifs mocked the Othering of the black community, as one user called out, "Ppl mad cuz 'Black Twitter' is treating #WWIII like white ppl treat #BlackLivesMatter. Y'all gone on wit that mess. Don't ALL wars matter?!"
Ppl mad cuz "Black Twitter" is treating #WWIII like white ppl treat #BlackLivesMatter Y'all gone on wit that mess.… https://t.co/ouLbYift6i— JamThaWell (@JamThaWell)1578055578.0
People on this app mad because #Blacktwitter is making jokes about WW3, black folks cant afford to wallow in sadnes… https://t.co/yTRoi93HEQ— Francesca Castle (@Francesca Castle)1578081422.0
But people of color have always been marginalized in times of war, just as they are in times of peace–from 180,000 black soldiers being discriminated against while fighting to save the Union in the Civil War to the 932 Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, who were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army at a time when segregation and Jim Crow laws were still enforced. And that's to say nothing of the total 1.2 million black soldiers who served during World War II but faced heavy segregation and discrimination both during and after wartime. Historian and scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. describes "Black America's Double War" as "the gap between the promise and performance of American freedom when it came to race relations," citing that throughout American history "many black people frankly felt alienated from the war effort." From the Civil War to World War II, "the military was as segregated as the Deep South," creating a tradition of deep "hypocrisy between conditions at home and the noble war aims" of the government in power. For instance, black soldiers account for a disproportionate amount of casualties, are appointed to far fewer positions of power, and are notably assigned lower duties more than their counterparts.
But Black Twitter already knows this. As one user tweeted "I don't know why people thought black Twitter wasn't about to get these jokes off about #WWIII. Black folk even had jokes when they was IN the last world war lol. They spelled Hitler name on an artillery shell like it was a Starbucks cup."
I dont know why people thought black Twitter wasnt about to get these jokes off about #WWIII. Black folk even had j… https://t.co/Bh0heZzJTb— Cognoscente of Cognomens (@Cognoscente of Cognomens)1578028312.0
These days, about 70% of active-duty enlisted men are white, 17% are black, and 17% are Latinx, with Asian, Native, and mixed ethnicities comprising far smaller percentages. Should the U.S. be embattled in World War III, history suggests that it will repeat itself, with higher percentages of non-White soldiers dying than white soldiers and the highest government and military positions being held largely by white men. As The Guardian's Nathan Robinson pointed out, "White men have never made up the majority of the US population, and yet from the country's beginnings they have made up most of its political decision-makers… Demographic changes do not automatically change the power structure, and it's likely that we'll see a conservative white minority taking extreme steps to cling to power in the coming decades."
Speaking of "extreme steps to cling to power," a UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, Agnes Callamard, has condemned the drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani as "unlawful" since the attack did not legally qualify as "self-defense," despite the Trump administration's adamant claims that it did. In response, Black Twitter has relished in a painfully ironic tweet from Donald Trump posted in 2013: "Be prepared, there is a small chance that our horrendous leadership could unknowingly lead us into World War III."
@realDonaldTrump Thanks for the warning. But please don't.— jordan (@jordan)1492132076.0
Black Twitter: Your war should look like your water fountains did.... https://t.co/AwXJpiPgDZ— 12/31 Erotic Stories Bae (@12/31 Erotic Stories Bae)1578039167.0
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