“When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight.”
Those were the words spoken by Barack Obama to the nation during the State of the Union speech. The President further added “When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.”
While conducting a probe of far-right groups in North Carolina, the Southern Poverty Law Center, discovered that a number of soldiers from Fort Bragg had been recruited to join extremist groups. By day, they are members of an elite unit trained to parachute into distant lands, but at night they don black boots with white laces, red suspenders, flight jackets and chains, the unofficial uniform signifying white power. Participation by service members in such groups is prohibited under each service organizations regulations. The United States Military is an organization that is not entirely exempt from the type of rhetoric, attitudes and violence that is becoming ever increasingly presence. Recently the Arabic word “Hajji” has become the ethnic slur for Arabs or Muslims. The Arabic word actually refers to one who has gone on the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is used extensively in the military and is used with the same kind of connotation as “gook,” “Charlie,” or even the n-word.
The recent Department of Homeland Security report titled, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” stated: “The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.” Many white supremacists join the Army to secure training for, as they see it, a future domestic race war. Others claim to be shooting Iraqis not to pursue the military’s strategic goals but as their duty as white militants.” The participation by service members in such extremist groups is prohibited by each service organization. Yet the Department of Defense continues to insist that racism within the military has been confined to a few sensational incidents. Human-rights watchdog groups said there has been widespread white-supremacist activity in the military.
The grim reminders of Nazi Germany’s “Schutzstaffel” atrocities surfaced when US Marines posed these units in front of a Nazi “SS” logo style flag. After the incident the Marine Corps Commandant responded with “the Marines in the photo were ignorant of the connection of this symbol to the Holocaust and monumental atrocities associated with Nazi Germany”. This is such an unbelievable and ignorant statement considering the history surrounding the symbol. Is this statement an indicator toward the military’s attitude on racism? Is the Military in denial that racism exists in the military or that such hatred can exist in the US Military?
Despite the integration of the Armed Forces, decade’s later sentiments and attitudes have not changed toward minorities. Throughout history many service members have died fighting for freedoms which many they have been denied. The sickness and illness that has affected the American society is becoming more prevalent and accepted as the norm in the Military. Until society cultivates changes toward racism, the Military’s attitude will never change.