Last night on Twitter, William Jackson Harper from The Good Place revealed that he was recently involved in a “disturbing experience” related to his attempt to participate in a movie screening and Q&A discussion with people in the military through the Arts In The Armed Forces charity, explaining that his plan to host a virtual screening of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X was almost completely sidelined because of a new executive order that Donald Trump signed in September. The order is called “Executive Order Combating Race And Sex Stereotyping,” and Indie Wire says that it establishes that “it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce or un the Uniformed Services. In addition, Federal contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.” As Harper explains it in his Twitter thread, this could be interpreted as a ban on government employees entertaining the possibility that the United States is an inherently sexist and racist country or that people themselves might be predisposed to sexism or racism, all of which would make it hard for people in the military to see and discuss a film like Malcolm X.
The event was being organized for several military academies, and Harper says in his thread that students at two of them expressed concerns a few days before the screening that participating in it would put them in violation of Trump’s order. Ultimately, three of the four military academies did hold the virtual screening, though one did apparently back out because of the order. Harper says this is “censorship” and that Trump’s administration is trying to cover up the “difficult truths that still haunt our society.” Harper’s full Twitter thread is below.