General McChrystal's Real Mistake

Now that General Stanley McChrystal has "resigned" following the publication of a Rolling Stone article showing him and his team to be recalcitrant to Obama administration authority, criticism of the Desert Storm veteran has been swift.

Obama said he'd accepted the general's resignation without protest, as it was "the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military, and for our country." At Politico, Ben Smith published a report detailing some of the McChrystal's past mistruths surrounding the late football player-cum-soldier Pat Tillman, mistruths that were brought to the Obama administration, but ignored. According to Noah Shachtman, liar or not, jerk or not, Obama "had" to fire McChrystal:

No general could’ve taken Obama seriously, after getting dissed so publicly by McChrystal’s crew. No captain or sergeant could’ve been expected to shut up and salute when his superior officer gave an order. The guy at the top didn’t respect his commander; why should he?


These shots are all probably right. Indeed, if there are two things that keep our expansive military together, they are trust and the chain of command. And McChrystal violated both of them in one fell swoop. Obviously, he wasn't raised in an African American household.

We can be sure of this, because had he been—were Stanley McChrystal born Stan Johnson or Lee Jones—he would have known an unshakable truth: don't talk about house business in front of company.


As The Root's culture critic, Natalie Hopkinson, put it, "[D]on't bring up Mommy's sibling beef in front of company. Nobody needs to know about how much we paid for the new couch. House business." It's that simple; there are issues you talk about in front of your spouse, children, and close associates, and there are issues you talk about in front of Rolling Stone reporters. Bitchy gossipping about one's boss is completely natural—science even says it's helpful!—but you do it over dinner, after a hard day at the office, when a member of the press isn't writing down everything you're saying so that he can then tell the entire world. McChrystal and his inner circle made public business out of house business, and, as anyone raised by a black parent is aware, that is a cardinal sin.

Mark today as the first time in history someone this important was fired for not being black.

-Cord Jefferson is a staff writer for The Root.

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