Just when I thought the news couldn't get any weirder or more depressing, the New York Times (here) with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center (which you'll find on my links list), has just left me stupified. Apparently, according to a military investigator's report, the military (and most especially the Army) now has what may be thousands of rabid racists roaming the streets of Iraq on our nickel, learning how to use sophisticated weapons on our nickel, and practicing house-to-house missions on our nickel so they can learn how to do the same thing in the future right here in the good old U.S. of A. when they finally "cleanse" our nation of the "undesirables"!!
What!? my brain screamed (as I contemplated the $7000 bill I just got from the I.R.S. because of a mortgage deal that went south). I wanted to believe that the Times was mistaken. After all, they've had their problems in the past. But there it is, in the paper and on the SPLC website, with names and everything.
"The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, 'Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members.'"
Now, what is this telling us? First of all, it's telling us that the U.S. population isn't supporting the war on Iraq enough to sign up to fight. Well, we knew this, right? Otherwise, why would recruiters be routinely staging humongous dog-and-pony shows on college campuses and fighting in court for the right to continue? And why would we see them charging across Walmart parking lots in poor neighborhoods to tempt young men of color like so many uniformed dope boyz with quotas to meet? And why would ads in Jet magazine--every week--encourage parents to talk their children into signing up? Okay. So that's old news, I guess.
And I've always known that neo-Nazis and other kooks get their training in the military. Where else are they gonna get it? It's not like you can sign up for "How To Blow Stuff Up 101" or "Advanced Killing" at your local community college. (And I know the directions are available on line, but not with hands-on, state of the art instruction and unlimited opportunities to practice--while you're getting paid.)
But this stuff about the recruiters and the officers knowing and letting it slide? Oh, oh, oh, please tell me this is new! And how is it explained? According to Mr. Barfield:
"They don't want to make a big deal...about neo-Nazis in the military because then parents who are already worried about their kids signing up and dying in Iraq are going to be even more reluctant about their kids enlisting if they feel they'll be exposed to gangs and white supremacists."
Uh huh! We'd certainly hate to think those parents who are so carefully being enlisted to enlist their young would be uncomfortable. Not better to get rid of the psychos. Oh, no! Better to just keep 'em a secret from the parents!
It's a cinch they're not a secret from the Iraqi's for very long. According to Barfield, "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad. That's a problem."
I mean, I can see where it would be difficult to keep the locals convinced that you're there to "bring them democracy" when you have spray-painted messages popping up in public places--in English--calling them and other people of color pejorative names. But hey! An Army's gotta do what an Army's gotta do! If the Commander-in-Chief says throw some more logs on the fire, who's gonna tell him no?
Actually, this little issue caused some excitement a decade or so ago, too. Timothy McVeigh, it turned out, who was executed for bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City, first espoused his right-wing philosophy while serving in the Army and found his sidekicks among the ranks of fellow soldiers, as well. Then, while we were still smarting under this revelation, another incident came along involving the dishonorable discharge of nineteen neo-Nazis in 1996, after three European-American paratroopers were convicted of randomly murdering a Black couple--to win tattoos, no less! The result was a crack-down on racist and extremist activities in the military. It's a little scary that there even had to be one. I mean, did none of these guys have tattoos going in? But at least, the Army was moving in the right direction--at the specific instruction of Washington, I might add.
But you know how it is. Time goes by and quotas must be met. Then, as other countries (who never did really ante up a whole lot of troops, especially not for long term warfare) started bringing their troops home (what a concept!) and we ran out of the 50,000 green card holders we talked into becoming soldiers, some things just had to be done. Winking at crazies as they sign on the dotted line appears to have been one of them.
In an article in Resistance, the hyper-racist National Alliance's magazine, Stephen Berry, a former Special Forces officer who now serves as the organization's "military unit coordinator," urged skinheads to join the army and insist on serving in light infantry units.
"Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war. It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed'...As a professional soldier, my goal is to fill the ranks of the United States Army with skinheads. As street brawlers, you will be useless in the coming race war. As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood."
Good to know...I guess...
And I would assume that we can expect the military to take some kind of immediate radical action concerning this most serious matter. Especially in the face of all the torturings and murders and gang rapes and all that keep implicating U.S. soldiers in general in Iraq and making them infinitely less safe than they would be otherwise. Surely, the Army would want to strongly and instantly distance itself from any practice of allowing Nazi's and their ilk into the U.S. military or ignoring their activities once identified, right?