Nearly a Third of Soldiers in Poll Call White Nationalism a Threat
A new poll released by Military Times reveals that nearly a third of U.S. military troops rate white nationalism a bigger national security threat than Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. One in four of the soldiers polled also say that they have witnessed white nationalism among their fellow service members.
The poll was conducted a week after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. The survey, which was voluntary, included 1,131 responses from active-duty troop members, who were predominantly white (86 percent) and male (76 percent).
According to Military Times:
Concerns about white nationalist groups were more pronounced among minorities in the ranks. Nearly 42 percent of non-white troops who responded to the survey said they have personally experienced examples of white nationalism in the military, versus about 18 percent of white service members.
When asked whether white nationalists pose a threat to national security, 30 percent of respondents labeled it a significant danger, more than many international hot spots, like Syria (27 percent), Pakistan (25 percent), Afghanistan (22 percent) and Iraq (17 percent).
But a notable number of poll participants also bristled at the assertion that white power ideology is a real problem.
More than 60 percent of the troops polled also said that they would support activating the National Guard or reserves to manage civil unrest resulting from white nationalists, such as that in Charlottesville.
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) October 24, 2017
But the poll also demonstrated that not all respondents share the notion that white supremacy poses a threat—one soldier wrote that “white nationalism is not a terrorist organization.” Another commented, “You do realize white nationalists and racists are two totally different types of people?” Nearly 5 percent of those polled left comments complaining that groups such as Black Lives Matter were not included as options for threats to national security.
The results of the poll are significant, given President Trump’s rhetoric blaming “both sides” for the violence at the August rally in Charlottesville, with the New York Times noting that he had given white supremacists “an unequivocal boost.”
Although a veteran was identified as one of the leaders of a participating white nationalist group in Charlottesville, U.S. military chiefs have come forward to condemn white nationalism. After the event, Gen. Mark Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, tweeted: “The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.” Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, added: “No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act.”
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