Over ⅓ Of Active-Duty US Troops Have Seen Signs Of White Supremacy In The Ranks
Signs of white nationalism in the ranks of the U.S. military are on the rise, according to the most recent Military Times survey of active-duty troops. More than one-third of all service members and more than half of minority members said they have “personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological-driven racism within the ranks in recent months.”
The survey was conducted in late 2019 and polled 1,630 active-duty Military Times subscribers regarding their views on “political leaders, global threats and domestic policy priorities.”
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they have seen signs of white nationalism — compared to 22 percent the year before.
“Enlisted members were more likely than officers to witness the extremist views (37 percent to 27 percent),” the Military Times found, and “minorities were significantly more likely to report cases of racist behavior than whites (53 percent to 30 percent).”
Reported incidents included racist language and discriminatory attitudes, as well as more blatant signs, such as “swastikas being drawn on service members’ cars, tattoos affiliated with white supremacist groups, stickers supporting the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi-style salutes between individuals.”
“We had a fellow recruit detained and thrown out of my bootcamp platoon due to Nazi tattoos and questionable statements,” one poll participant recounted. “The majority of my co-workers were absolutely outstanding regarding race and work-relations and I credit military service for that. Nevertheless, somehow more racists are slipping through the cracks into the military.”
Cassie Miller, a research and investigations specialist for the Southern Poverty Law Center, noted that the poll results were unsurprising and said the problem has long existed among service members.
“Historically, this has been a problem for the military,” she told the Military Times. “We’ve been pushing the Defense Department to take this issue more seriously since 1986. There are certain parts of the white power movement that value military experience and are often recruiting there.”
“We’re seen groups encouraging members to join the military, to get training in weaponry and survival skills. It’s something that they really value,” Miller said.
She continued: “We also know that hate groups and white supremacy groups are actively recruiting military members. If they want to use violence to push the country into a race war, they need people with a knowledge of firearms, explosives and other military skills.”
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), who helped write a law that Congress passed last year requiring the Pentagon “to revise command climate surveys of troops to include questions on whether individuals have seen ‘extremist activity’ in the workplace,” said the poll results were upsetting.
“I’m alarmed and troubled by those numbers, but in some ways I’m also not surprised,” he told the Military Times. “This is consistent with what I’m hearing when I speak to soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. They’ve told me anecdotally about racism they see, white nationalist language, signs and symbols.”
“I continue to believe the U.S. armed forces are a real model for diversity and inclusion, and a place of opportunity for men and women of all races,” Brown added. “But there are still obstacles, and we have to look to continue to make improvements.”