White nationalism is infecting the military: poll

One in four troops have witnessed white nationalism among fellow armed services members, a new poll finds

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 24, 2017 8:05AM (EDT)


A new poll reveals that white nationalism has become a disturbingly prevalent problem within the American military.

Almost 42 percent of the non-white troops who took a Military Times survey said they had personally experienced instances of white nationalism in the military. By contrast, roughly 18 percent of white service members reported the same thing.

The survey also seemed to reveal sharply divided attitudes about the severity of the presence of white nationalism. While 30 percent of respondents said that it posed a significant threat to national security — fewer said the same thing about Syria (27 percent), Pakistan (25 percent), Afghanistan (22 percent) and Iraq (17 percent) — many others insisted that the questions challenging white nationalism were really the problem.

"Nearly five percent of those polled left comments complaining that groups like Black Lives Matter — whose stated goal is to raise awareness of violence and discrimination towards black people — weren’t included among the options for threats to national security," the Military Times reported. It also quoted comments from officers insisting that white nationalism "is not a terrorist organization" or that white nationalists are not actually racists.

The surveys draw attention to a 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security on the rise of right-wing extremism in the United States, one that particularly drew attention to the possibility that members of the military could be radicalized.

"The report also rightly pointed out that returning military veterans may be targeted for recruitment by extremists," Daryl Johnson, a former senior analyst for domestic terrorism at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who helped write the report, wrote in The Washington Post earlier this year. "Republican lawmakers demanded then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano rescind my report. The American Legion formally requested an apology to veterans. Some in Congress called for me to be fired. Amid the turmoil, my warning went unheeded by Republicans and Democrats."

Another Military Times poll found a stark difference between views of President Donald Trump held by white male members and those held by women and minorities. It found that while 51 percent of non-white members had an unfavorable view of the president, only 37 percent of white troops felt the same way. Likewise only 32 percent of women in the military had a favorable view of the president, compared to 47 percent of men.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Air Force Army Black Lives Matter Coast Guard Marines Military Times Navy White Nationalism White Supremacy