Pennsylvania’s Republican nominee for governor evidently likes to cosplay as a member of a terrorist group that killed thousands of people from his state.
Back in 2014, three years before he retired from the Army, Doug Mastriano posed for a photo beside fellow service members while wearing a Confederate soldier uniform, a newly unearthed photo shows.
At the time, Mastriano worked in the Army’s Department of Military Strategy, Plans, and Operations. Reuters retrieved the previously unreported image from the Army War College after it filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to Reuters:
Faculty at the time had been given the option of dressing as a historical figure, people familiar with the photo said. At least 15 of the 21 faculty in the photo opted to appear in regular attire. Although one man wears a trench coat and sunglasses and another carries an aviator’s helmet, Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.
It should be disqualifying for Mastriano, who can add this to his growing list of deplorable behavior. This may come as a surprise to the ahistorical GOP, but Pennsylvania is a touchy place for an elected official to parade around as a Confederate. During the Civil War, you see, there was this very consequential battle you may have heard of known as the Battle of Gettysburg, in which Confederate soldiers, in their effort to uphold slavery, killed at least 23,000 Union soldiers. Some 28,000 Confederate soldiers were killed.
And on top of that, the Confederate soldiers Mastriano goofily imitated committed unconscionable acts of violence on Black people who escaped slavery and sought refuge in Pennsylvania.
Union Army officials described this violence at the time. Here’s Lt. Chester Leach, of the 2nd Vermont Infantry, describing (in very graphic terms) what he saw in Pennsylvania:
I saw a sight yesterday that beats all I ever saw. A Negro boy that the Rebels left in a barn, entirely naked. His breast cut & bowels were scratched or cut & the Dr. said that turpentine had been put on him & also his privates had been cut off. I went in the barn to see him but it was rather dark. He lay on his back, his legs bent, knees up, & grinding his teeth & foaming at the mouth and seemed to take no notice of anything and breast and bowels looked as if they had been cut & then burned all over.
Here’s an account from a woman named Rachel Cormany, whose husband was part of the Union Army’s 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry:
[The Confederates] were hunting up the contrabands and driving them off by droves. O! How it grated on our hearts to have to sit quietly and look at such brutal deeds — I saw no men among the contrabands — all women and children. Some of the colored people who were raised here were taken along — I sat on the front step as they were driven by just like we would drive cattle. … One woman was pleading wonderfully with her driver for her children — but all the sympathy she received from him was a rough “March along” — at which she would quicken her pace again. It is a query what they want with those little babies — whole families were taken.
These are the people whom the GOP nominee for Pennsylvania governor sought fit to dress up as: pillagers, rapists, murderers and traitors.
Mastriano had not yet publicly commented on the photo as of Monday evening.
To the extent the U.S. exists as a multiracial democracy where all religious views carry equal weight, Mastriano is against the U.S. in much the same way the Confederate Army was.
He's part of the Republican Party’s increasingly vocal Christian nationalist wing, led by people like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, which is metastasizing throughout the GOP. This wing, like Confederates before them, seems to want the U.S. to be led solely by white Christians.
Mastriano looks like an idiot in his Confederate Army garb. But don’t let the idiocy distract from the message he was sending: He has no problem being associated with a treasonous movement that murdered and enslaved thousands.