US Merchant Marine Academy official under fire over tweet about ‘white, masculine’ roots of racism and misogyny

The US Merchant Marine Academy has found itself at the center of controversy after one of its officials, Anton Tripolskii, was accused of posting a series of racist tweets. Tripolskii, who works as the director of sexual assault response at the academy, posted a tweet in June 2020 that attracted considerable backlash. He wrote, “We don’t have forces that do good for survivors of intimate partners and sexual assault because we don’t have forces that don’t abuse people of color and people of color. Same forces, same reasons. Misogyny and racism grow from the same white, male root.”

The tweet was brought to the attention of the Anti-Woke Woke Caucus of the United States House, which subsequently wrote a scathing letter to the academy’s superintendent demanding answers about Tripolskii’s Twitter activity. The letter, signed by four Republican Representatives, alleged that the academy had become increasingly “woke” under the authority of Vice Admiral Superintendent Joanna Nunan and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The Anti-Woke Caucus asked whether Tripolskii’s Twitter comments on race and gender reflected the academy’s beliefs and values.

The letter also highlighted that 26 cases of sexual assault were reported to the USMMA between July 1, 2019, and December 15, 2022, according to a report submitted to Congress. Anti-Woke Caucus members asked for clarification on whether Tripolskii’s “explicit comments on race and gender in the United States reflect the academy and its beliefs.” They noted that Tripolskii had retweeted a user in October 2020 who suggested that “white men with a history of domestic and sexual violence” are more likely to become “radicalized terrorists.”

The accusations against Tripolskii did not end there. Members of the Anti-Woke Caucus also referenced a tweet from April 2020 in which he shared a political cartoon that showed a closed church locked down by police while stores labeled “Twitter Drama” and “Fiona Apple Album” remained open. “This is my paradise,” he wrote. The Anti-Woke Caucus wrote, “We hope the Merchant Marines disavow Mr. Tripolskii’s argument that society lacks the capacity to treat survivors of rape and sexual assault or, more generally, Americans of all ethnicities with dignity and respect.”

Members of Congress concluded their letter by emphasizing the academy’s stated commitment to inclusion and questioned whether Tripolskii’s sentiments of “denigrating white men as a group” were conducive to that end. They further asked whether the academy agreed with Tripolskii that misogyny and racism emerge “from the same white male root” and whether such an attitude might make white male midshipmen reluctant to come forward with sexual assault allegations.

The controversy has sparked calls to action from various quarters, with the 26-member House Anti-Woke Caucus asking members of 12 appropriations committees to strike language supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion from their bills. Anton Tripolskii remains under scrutiny and has been accused of making divisive and wrong comments by Republican Representatives. US Merchant Marine Academy has confirmed that it received the letter from caucus members and is working towards strengthening its sexual assault prevention and response capacity.

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