U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has a penchant for doling out interesting and unconventional names for new warships, but a petition currently on the White House website wants the next major warship to be named something that may be too outlandish even for him.
The petition suggests that the next major vessel be christened “USS The Deplorables,” as the petition notes, “to honor those citizens who rose up to defend America and the Constitution from the globalists.”
The name is taken from a remark Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made on the campaign trail to refer to supporters of President-elect Donald Trump.
“You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Clinton said at a rally in September. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And, unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
The remark initially offended many Trump supporters, and Clinton apologized for it. But the term quickly turned into a rallying cry for Trump’s campaign and helped the GOP candidate win the White House. Now it appears at least some of his supporters would like the Navy’s next ship to be “deplorable” as well.
The petition, which was started by someone with the initials D.S., has so far only garnered 768 votes since being launched on December 4, 2016 – 99,232 short of the 100,000 needed by January 3, 2017, to receive an official response from the White House.
Would you like to be a sailor deployed on a ship called the USS The Deplorables?
– David Winkler, director of programs at the Naval Historical Foundation
“My gut reaction when I heard about this was, ‘Would you like to be a sailor deployed on a ship called the USS The Deplorables?’” David Winkler, director of programs at the Naval Historical Foundation, told FoxNews.com. “Do you think someone would really want to say, ‘Look at that ship out there – it’s deplorable?’”
While “USS The Deplorables” may not be cruising through open waters anytime soon, it is not unprecedented for a U.S. Navy ship to be named after someone other than a famous naval officer, president or war hero.
Eschewing the traditional picks of military men in naming ships (i.e. the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower or the USS Ronald Reagan), Mabus recently drew criticism for naming ships in honor of the late gay rights leader Harvey Milk, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis among others.
“It just doesn’t help at all for what the basic sailor or officer thinks of his chain of command, up to the secretary of the navy,” retired Vice Adm. Doug Crowder told the Associated Press. “Is it catastrophic? No. But that’s the risk you run.”
Mabus argued that he is honoring people who have shown heroism, just as past secretaries have done. He said he believes that by looking outside the military for heroes, he can help connect people with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
“I have named ships after presidents. I have named ships after members of Congress who have been forceful advocates for the Navy and Marine Corps,” Mabus said. “But I think you have to represent all the values that we hold as Americans, that we hold as a country. And so that’s why I’ve named ships the Medgar Evers, Cesar Chavez, John Lewis, the Harvey Milk. Because these are American heroes too, just in a different arena.”
Would “The Deplorables” pass muster?
“There’s been some controversy in the past with names having some political undertones,” Winkler told FoxNews.com. “Mabus is trying to reach out to different groups of people with his choices, but naming a ship ‘Deplorable’ is not the way to do that.”
Controversy over what to name American naval vessels goes back to the earliest days of the United States. George Washington wanted the names of the Navy’s first six ships to be inspired by the Constitution.
The first five were, but the nation’s first Navy secretary, Benjamin Stoddert, arbitrarily named the sixth the USS Chesapeake.