A leading civil rights organization is concerned that supporting American troops has become increasingly synonymous with supporting racists.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has formally requested that Congress investigate “growing evidence” that White supremacists are infiltrating the military – and getting trained for terrorism on the government’s dime.
“Evidence continues to mount that current Pentagon policies are inadequate to prevent racial extremists from joining and serving in the armed forces,” writes the Center’s founder Morris Dees.
Among findings of the Alabama-based agency’s recent investigation are neo-Nazi Web sites that boast profiles of visitors who claim “military” as their occupation. No less than 40 such profiles reportedly appeared in the “New Saxon” group with one belonging to a visitor who stated that he was eager to go overseas and kill “all the bloody sand n__gers.” Another, claiming to be stationed in Afghanistan, listed a neo-Nazi leader’s writings as his favorite book.
Though racism in the ranks dates back to the open segregation of soldiers, such as depicted in the film Glory, Southern Poverty has documented evidence of more possibly dangerous and undetected infiltration in recent years: The Center presented evidence to the government in 1986 that Marines were participating in Klan exercises; ten years later, the Secretary of Defense office’s response proved inadequate when three neo-Nazi soldiers killed a Black couple in North Carolina.
The Center’s letter to congressional committee chairmen monitoring Homeland Security and armed forces cites recent FBI and Homeland Security data that supports the Center’s findings. Homeland Security reported as recently as April that right-wing extremists, not Muslims, have the greatest potential for American terrorism. No formal response to a 2006 Center report about the surging number of racists, some receiving combat and explosives training, was received from the government, the agency says.
While the majority of servicemen and servicewomen protect “the highest ideals of our country,” Dees writes in his letter, “we owe it to our courageous men and women in uniform, and the American public, to remain vigilant to ensure that the ranks are as free of extremists as possible.”