Pennsylvania Republicans have offered support to gubernatorial candidate Donald Trump-backed Doug Mastriano, who was on the firing line after a photo in which he posed in Confederate uniform was published.
The row erupted after Reuters published the 2014 photo of Mastriano in Confederate uniform.The news agency said it received the photo, which has not been published before, from the US Army War College. The photo shows Mastriano posing in the Confederate uniform with the 2013-14 faculty for the Department of Military Strategy, Plans, and Operations.
Displaying Confederate Symbols
The photo was kept at the college for years until it was taken down after Reuters brought up the matter with the college.
Displaying Confederate symbols has been deemed insensitive after the racial tensions created in the wake of the 2020 killing of black man George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis. The critics say such signages are insensitive and painful reminder of the racial oppression that existed before the Civil War.
Republicans supported Donald trump-backed Mastriano said the photo was taken years ago. Lee Snover, chair of the Republican Party in Northampton County, said the issue was not a big deal.
"It happened years ago. There was something called the Civil War and that included Confederate soldiers, so not sure what the big deal is," Snover said, according to Reuters.
Snover was asked if he supported the taking down of the photo at the army facility. "I wouldn't have. I don't like liberals tearing down our history," he said.
However, Mastriano's opponents attacked him over the photo. "Doug Mastriano wore the uniform of traitors who fought to defend slavery on official grounds of the U.S. Army War College. The College condemned him, saying this "does not reflect our values." It's deeply offensive and proves who he is, once again. He's unfit to be Governor," tweeted Josh Shapiro, the Democrat vying with him for the governor's post.
Another Republican said the row over the photo was proof for the falling credibility of the media. "This story is another example of why the media is viewed poorly and with distrust by many on the right," said Sam DeMarco, head of the Allegheny County Republican Party.
Who is Doug Mastriano?
Mastriano is a state senator and a retired US army colonel. He was elected to serve as the Senator for Pennsylvania's 33rd District in May 2019.
His senate biography says Mastriano, a combat veteran and the son of a career US Navy man, was commissioned in the US Army in 1986 and served on the Iron Curtain with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in West Germany. He also served four years with NATO and deployed three times to Afghanistan. Mastriano was the director of NATO's Joint Intelligence Center in Afghanistan, leading 80 people from 18 nations.
Mastriano is a Doctor of History (PhD) and has four master's degrees: Strategy, Strategic Intelligence, Military Operations, and Airpower, the bio says.