Identity, Politics

Neo-Nazis and the US Military

I am not a believer in the military-industrial complex–lets add another reason why:

The New York Times today reports:

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed “large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists” to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

More from SPLC’s site:

“Because hate group membership and extremist activity are antithetical to the values and mission of our armed forces, we urge you to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to white supremacy in the military and to take all necessary steps to ensure that the policy is rigorously enforced,” Cohen wrote in a letter to Rumsfeld.

I wish I could say I was surprised, and I also wish I could agree with Cohen in saying that hate groups aren’t apart of the mission of the armed forces, but who are we kidding? I realize Cohen can’t say this–especially in a letter to Rumsfeld because that’s far from strategic–but I have to say that the very mission in many ways of the armed forces is just that of extremist activity and hate. We are talking about training people for war–that is not a loving activity.
That, though, doesn’t mean I don’t agree with the urgency of SLPC’s call and report, and the need for this to be seriously looked at and engaged with. Reading the first few lines of the full story demonstrates the seriousness and gravity of this issue:

Before the U.S. military made Matt Buschbacher a Navy SEAL, he made himself a soldier of the Fourth Reich.
Before Forrest Fogarty attended Military Police counter-insurgency training school, he attended Nazi skinhead festivals as lead singer for the hate rock band Attack.
And before Army engineer Jon Fain joined the invasion of Iraq to fight the War on Terror, the neo-Nazi National Alliance member fantasized about fighting a war on Jews.
“Ever since my youth — when I watched WWII footage and saw how well-disciplined and sharply dressed the German forces were — I have wanted to be a soldier,” Fain said in a Winter 2004 interview with the National Alliance magazine Resistance. “Joining the American military was as close as I could get.”

23 thoughts on “Neo-Nazis and the US Military

  1. considering the us military was willing to dismiss a significant percentage of their arabic speaking intelligence analysts for being gay, you’d think they could at least get tough on extrmists who are actually dangerous.

  2. What do you expect?
    That’s not being cynical, that is coming from a space of understanding: the US military recruits from the poor, undereducated, and limited opportunity. From ghettos, rural slums and foster homes, not Ivy League. The first lesson just about anybody learns in these situations is what the Racial Pyramid is, and where you sit on it.
    And boot camping tolerance may work on a superficial level, but the deeper strata of American psyche – “Stick to your own” – remains, and is not changed through rhetoric and push-ups.
    I know people who LEFT the Army/Navy more racist than when they entered.

  3. What’s ironic is all these fascist groups claim the U.S. is fighting a “war for Israel” and the “Jews.”

  4. “but I have to say that the very mission in many ways of the armed forces is just that of extremist activity and hate. We are talking about training people for war–that is not a loving activity.”
    I couldn’t disagree more. It’s just this attitude that has caused so many decent and civilized societies to lose ground or fall to more barbaric ones. In the real world, preparation for war is necessary for survival, and therefore morally mandatory. And how pinched and narrow is a definition of “love” that doesn’t include a willingness to risk and sacrifice on behalf of one’s ideals, country and family? Of course, this is all the more reason for us to be careful about who we let into the military.
    It also occurs to me that the hate-groups-in the -military issue can be complex. What exactly triggers expulsion? Obviously, a crime. Almost as obvious, membership in a group that commits crimes. Also, advocacy of crimes. Statements that directly show that the speaker can’t function as a soldier. But there are gray areas in terms of defining hate groups or hate itself. What about members of a party that advocated the overthrow of the US government, if necessary to achieve its ends, and took their orders from a foreign dictator (who was also a mass murderer)? Should these people be allowed to serve? Is it McCarthyism to suggest otherwise?
    “when I watched WWII footage and saw how well-disciplined and sharply dressed the German forces were — I have wanted to be a soldier”
    He joined hate groups and the military FOR THE CLOTHES??? Possibly this guy isn’t accountable for his actions.

  5. “I couldn’t disagree more. It’s just this attitude that has caused so many decent and civilized societies to lose ground or fall to more barbaric ones.”
    J, what you wrote may offend the pacificists but you are absolutely correct. Have you read “Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History” by Lee Harris? I think you might enjoy it or at least agree with some of Harris’ arguments.

  6. I read the article in NY Times – the racists’ rationale for joining the army was to receive professional training for the race wars they hope to start, and to be soldiers rather than street brawlers. They are trying to gain experience as hardened warriors and (to paraphrase from the article) drive ‘aliens’ from the cities and into the country where they will be ethnically cleansed. This is beyond poor kids without a choice for financing their future.

  7. Wow. A week after Y-Love’s blog about gang members in the military, the freaking Brownshirts are doing the same thing, eh? Great. Maybe that whole Second Amendment thing is more important than I thought.

  8. WEVS1:
    I actually got the Lee Harris book in my last Amazon shipment (after giving up on there being a paperback edition). Didn’t get to it yet, but based on Harris’ essays, I’ll probably agree with most of it.
    Monk:
    Thanks, but – do you mean about preparing for war or about the fashionista Nazi/soldier?

  9. Anyone else think this “report” is another bullshit attempt to denigrate the US army and discredit the US in general? Over a million American boys and girls have served in Iraq – do we think the proportion of criminals, racists, and gang members over there is even close to their population in the US in general, corrected for age? Isn’t the mark of an anti semite not the person who says, that person is a criminal (when referring to a Jew) but the person who extrapolates to “all Jews are criminals”, or who somehow only points to Jewish criminals. Je Accuse the originators of this report of bigotry of the worst kind against the US, they should be ashamed of themselves!

  10. “in many ways of the armed forces is just that of extremist activity and hate. We are talking about training people for war–that is not a loving activity.”
    Cole, being a soldier involves two of the worst things that a human being can possibly face: the risk of dying and the possibility you will have to kill someone. Given that we live in a world where war is a sad fact of life, our soldiers expose themselves to these two awful possibilities for two reasons: 1) to protect you, and 2) so you don’t have to. A simple “thank you” might be in order.

  11. “Anyone else think this “report” is another bullshit attempt to denigrate the US army and discredit the US in general? ”
    Yes. The only source is the SPLC. No stats. An anecdote about one guy.
    But “the numbers COULD run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.”
    yeah, and to quote a cultural icon: Monkeys COULD fly out of my butt.

  12. Daniel and others–I’m talking about an INSTITUTION, i.e. the armed forces, not individuals. Yes, institutions are made up of individuals, but this is about systemic power via institutions, and in particular the US armed forces–I don’t envy what the individuals go through, and know that many are there not even for the reasons you mentioned, but more so because they can get access to higher education, but that doesn’t mean I support the institution, what it does to people, how it recruits, and overall how it has treated many throughout the world.

  13. I have been in the Army for about four years now, and I find it very had to believe that Neo-Nazis would be able balance their ideas and their duty in the US Army as it is right now. We have Equal Opportunity training once every quarter where the consequences for any kind of discrimination are made very clear ( Army Regulation 600-20 ). Soldiers below the grade of Specialist have to live in the barracks are constantly inspected in their quarters and cannot display items that promote hate or a sexually explicit in their rooms. Army regulation 670-1 which covers uniforms clearly states that tattoes with extremist messages are forbidden. Finally, if you hate minorities, it would be very hard to work in the Army environment simply because of the diversity you will find at your workplace. In my office there are two Black, three White and two Hispanics soldiers. Two of these soldiers are female, I’m Jewish and the other female is Wiccan. I am certain that if or when we deploy any of these people will fight for me and I will do the same for them, regardless of their race or creed. There might be Neo-Nazis in the armed forces but it is certainly harder for them to express their views or act on them then on the civilian world. These soldiers and sailors might say what they want in racist magazines and websites but I doubt they would stand in front of their commanders and platoons and repeat what’s in this article.

  14. There’s only so far that the Pentagon can stretch those in service. C’mon. Mothers have been putting personal armor on their credit cards, for their kids, since this neo-feudal privatized Halliburton war began.
    Gee, what a surprise, that with few enlisting, street gang thugs, would. It almost makes Peretz Kidron’s remark: “To put it bluntly: ‘alternative civilian service’ channels those youngsters with a social conscience and a developed politcal awareness into work in hospitals and homes for the elderly, and creates the danger that the armed forces will become the exclusive domain of gungho ilitarists, skinheads and neo-nazis”* sound prophetic.
    Geraldo Rivera, who’s totally rightwing, and totally pro the Iraqi invasion, did a piece on this on his program last night.
    * p. 58, ‘Refusenik!’

  15. Brazilian, thank you for your service to this country, you are making the world a better place. We support you, your mission, and the government’s effort to bring democracy and freedom to the middle east.

  16. xisntox,
    Pat Tillman was against the war, like many servicemen and women are believe it or not. But, he was also a proud Soldier, a Ranger…a volunter like all of us. He is the example of what a soldier is, and of most soldiers I’ve met. Stupid songs like the one you linked and the horrible things that are surfacing on the media perpetrated by US personnel are a result of individual failures amongst the hundreds of thousands of us out there. Failure of leadership, individual incompetent leaders that have to deal with young guys who are frustraded, stressed, angry and just scared. Fighting a new kind of war, fighting an enemy that hides its weapons in the same house where his kids sleep, that shoots at people from mosques, kidnaps and executes women and foreign workers, and blows up his fellow countrymen because of religious/political differences, amongst other things. An enemy that fights us by hiding, by shooting RPGs from a distance and placing IEDs to blow up our convoys. Since I’ve joined four years ago the whole training doctrine has been changing non-stop to try to keep up with the new, coward methods used by the enemy. The biggest difference between us and them is that the ones on our side who perpetrated these crimes will be brought to justice while on their side the ones who commit the crimes are their martyrs and heros. Everyone, military and civilian, has their opinion on the legality and morality of this war but don’t judge all servicemen and women as people when you dont even seem to know a single one.

  17. Erfat — I’d like to think you’re right, but the reaction of the crowd he’s singing to makes me wonder.
    The servicemen I tend to meet are the ones who’ve turned against the war.
    And the real criminals, who wear suits and hang out in DC, will not be brought to justice, and even if they do, they’ll just get pardoned.
    Come home safe.

  18. “Given that we live in a world where war is a sad fact of life, our soldiers expose themselves to these two awful possibilities for two reasons: 1) to protect you, and 2) so you don’t have to. A simple “thank you” might be in order.”
    Yeah, no doubt. I was at a Human Rights Watch Film Festival in NYC a few years back for a couple of films dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the question-and-answer period, this young Israeli who had recently served in the IDF voiced his concern with some of the perceptions people on the left in Europe and the U.S. had regarding Israel. After getting some b.s. from people in the audience I stood up, walked over to him, shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

  19. dirrigible: >
    Why should criticism of the US military mean that the entire institution is flawed? The world is colored with shades of gray, not black or white. One reasonably cannot assume that the US military does not have value or is not necessary, just because it is flawed. All you can assume is that it needs reform. The Left and the Right are both guilty of black/white, either/or, absolutist thinking.
    The reported existence of neo-nazi/racist/neo-fascist elements in the U.S. Military doesn’t mean that all its members are racist. Obviously it does not. Yet, the US armed forces is among the most conservative, nationalistic instition in US society. A similar argument can can be made about any nation’s armed forces.
    I use “conservative” in a more general sense (to describe a person, group, philosophy, or institution that seeks to preserve the status quo), not in its US sense (politically right-wing). The (former) Soviet armed forces fit the first definition.

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