‘Let’s Go Brandon’ Anti-Biden Merchandise Sold at JBER Mall Prompt to Update Supplier Guidelines

Before the holidays, a salesman who had set up shop in a mall at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson was selling figurines with an overt political message mocking the Commander-in-Chief.

The incident prompted officials to update their advice to vendors on what is – and isn’t – appropriate to sell on the basis.

The wooden figurines of a bear styled to resemble former President Donald Trump, with a tuft of yellow hair and a long red tie, stood approximately one foot tall and held small signs that read “Let’s Go Brandon.”

The phrase emerged this fall as a coded way of saying “F — Joe Biden,” spreading from a viral NASCAR clip to a conservative meme. “Let’s Go Brandon” has become “all the rage” among Republican politicians seeking to establish conservative good faith; a rallying cry among protesters during President Biden’s public appearances; and a motto stamped on anti-Biden merchandise sold nationwide, The Associated Press reported in October.

The “Let’s Go Brandon” bears were sold at JBER’s officially managed business facilities and were offered by an independent seller, according to Chris Ward, senior director of public affairs for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is a sort of business broker within the Department of Defense, overseeing goods and services sold at US military installations. At bases around the world, exchanges house everything from fast food chains and barber shops to small traders running concession stands selling goods to soldiers, civilians and their families.

On JBER, the bear figurine seller had a short-term contract with the location, and by the time officials reviewed the item, the dealer had already closed shop, according to Ward.

“The ornament is no longer sold in the mall,” Ward said, adding that this was an isolated incident.

Political discourse on military bases and among the military is not a black and white issue, and the guidelines include a series of caveats and exclusions that depend on factors such as active duty status, type support for a cause and whether a person is making statements in a personal or professional capacity.

In general, under the Defense Department’s 2020 Guidelines on Political Activity, active duty members are prohibited from openly supporting politicians, causes, and campaigns that might make the military appear to be. partisan. Civil Defense employees have greater latitude but cannot engage in political activities at federal facilities.

“The Exchange regularly reviews products to determine their compliance with the Exchange’s ban on selling illegal items, promoting drug or alcohol use, containing racial / ethnic slurs, tolerating racial / ethnic supremacy or include obscene words, symbols or scenes. , profane and vulgar, ”Ward said.

So, does a figure with a cheeky, albeit insulting political joke count as inappropriate political speech on a military base?

According to Ward, yes.

“Once this product was identified, it was determined that it was outside of established parameters for resale,” Ward said.

The exchange has not received any complaints about the items, according to Ward, who did not respond to multiple requests for the company’s name, but said the exchange would change its policies to prevent the appearance of ‘similar articles.

“Communication with inbound suppliers will reflect the need to exclude products of this nature in the future,” Ward said.

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