Posted by: michelle2005 | February 13, 2009

“When Will Racism End?”


The below article is from the “Southern Poverty Law Center”.  I have their “HateWatch” web site listed in my blogroll.  I urge you to take a look at their web site.  This is not a new organization but one that’s been around since the early 70’s. 


This particular article is disturing as it deals with some of those in the military.  Is this a new happening?  No…yet, I wonder how many folks realize that this exists.  Although this information is available in other news media, I wanted to let the readers of this blog know about the work of SPLC.


Marine’s Arrest Again Raises Issue of Extremists in the Military

Posted in Extremists in the Military by Mark Potok on February 12, 2009


It’s no surprise that a person who allegedly hoped to kill President Barack Obama has white supremacist leanings. But the fact that the threat allegedly came from a U.S. Marine has again raised the issue of extremists in the military.


Marine Lance Cpl. Kody Brittingham, stationed at Camp Lejuene, N.C., was arrested in mid-December on an unrelated armed robbery charge and, as a result, separated from the service on Jan. 3. But a search of Brittingham’s barracks also turned up a journal containing white supremacist material and a plan to kill Obama, according to a newspaper account. That reportedly prompted a Secret Service investigation of his alleged threats against the president that is ongoing.


The incident is the latest disturbing account that suggests extremists are infiltrating the military — even as officials deny there’s a problem. Yesterday, Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen wrote to the Pentagon expressing his disappointment that military officials have taken no action on evidence of white supremacist activity in the military provided as early as 2006 by the SPLC.


“To be frank, it appears that we’re not getting anywhere,” Cohen wrote to Under Secretary of Defense David Chu in his Feb. 11 letter. “We provide evidence from multiple sources about the problem of extremists in the military, and you continue to claim that the military already has a zero-tolerance policy. You tell us that we should bring any information we have about extremist activity by specific Service members to the attention of appropriate Service authorities. But, as we have explained in our reports and in previous letters to you and the Secretary, we have done so, and the authorities have not taken action.”


The SPLC first brought the problem of extremists in the military to the attention of Pentagon officials in 1995, when three neo-Nazi soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg murdered two black North Carolinians. Then-Defense Secretary William Perry responded forcefully, saying there was “no room for racist and extremist activities within military.” A major investigation and crackdown followed in 1996.


But a decade later, military recruiters, under intense pressure to meet quotas for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, began to unofficially lower entrance standards. As a result, in 2006, the SPLC issued a major report, “A Few Bad Men,” that revealed that large numbers of neo-Nazi skinheads and other white supremacists were joining the armed forces to acquire combat training and access to weapons and explosives.


The SPLC report was sent to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld along with a letter from Cohen urging the military to adopt a zero tolerance policy with regard to extremists in the ranks. Forty members of Congress wrote a similar letter, as did Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). But in his letters of reply, Chu dismissed all their concerns as exaggerated. The military took no remedial action.


Two years later, in 2008, the SPLC reported on new evidence — including an unclassified FBI report — that supported its initial findings. After that report, Cohen wrote Chu, again asking that the military adopt a zero tolerance policy. Chu replied on Dec. 28, saying the military already had such a policy in place and needed nothing more. “We are committed to sustaining a culture in which all personnel from diverse backgrounds serve together in defense of our great nation,” Chu wrote.


But numerous cases suggest otherwise.


One example of the military’s failure to act was cited in SPLC’s original 2006 report — the case of Matt Buschbacher, a Navy SEAL who attended the 2002 leadership conference of the neo-Nazi National Alliance while on active duty. This group’s leader has espoused murdering America’s Jews in abandoned coal mines and was the author of The Turner Diaries, the race war novel Timothy McVeigh used as a blueprint for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The SPLC alerted military officials to the fact that Buschbacher was producing neo-Nazi recruitment fliers via his website while on active duty. But Buschbacher was allowed to complete his tour of duty in Iraq and given an honorable discharge.


Also mentioned in the 2006 report was the case of Robert Lee West, then an active duty member of the Air Force. When the SPLC informed officials of West’s activities, which included posing in front of a swastika flag with two assault rifles and ranting about the “Zionist Occupied Government,” they said no action would be taken unless he recruited fellow extremists or committed a crime.


Extremist infiltration of the military was also detailed in a much more recent report from the FBI, “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11,” which was released last summer to law enforcement officials. “The military training veterans bring to the [white supremacist] movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes,” the FBI report said.


Also in 2008, a new report by the SPLC revealed that 46 members of the white supremacist social networking website then identified themselves as active-duty military personnel. Six of these individuals were members of the “White Military Men” subgroup on the site. The report also quoted a racist skinhead who last year posted a comment to a neo-Nazi online forum, excitedly saying that he’d joined the Army and specifically requested an assignment where he would learn how to make an explosive device. “I have my own reasons for wanting this training but in fear of the government tracing me and me loosing [sic] my clearance I can’t share them here,” the poster, “Sobibor’s SS,” wrote. Sobibor’s SS provided enough biographical information that military officials should have been able to identify him. The SPLC reported this information to the military, but no action seems to have been taken.


In this week’s letter, the SPLC’s Cohen asked Chu not to again ignore the warning signs. “In our view, the continued presence of racial extremists in the military is a recipe for disaster,” Cohen wrote. “The recent case of Marine Lance Cpl. Kody Brittingham illustrates the point. … We urge you to take action.”






  1. I think that taking a small number of soldiers with criminal backgrounds as somehow exemplary of “the military” smacks of racism itself.

    As to the question you ask, “when will racism end?” by which you seem to mean black/white forms of racism, do note that the President is the product of an interracial marriage. Why not research that? How many interracial marriages take place in the US now? Then perhaps you can answer your own question by projecting the statistic out a few decades.

    In my view, “racism” happens when a small group of people are held up as exemplary of an entire group. By my definition, your post is racist.

    And, ps, my experiences with the military have shown it to be one of the most integrated sectors in American society.


    If you’ve read some of my previous posts you’d know my research into this topic is enormous. The “only” reason this was posted is it’s the most recent event of it’s type in such a short time.

    The only ones that believe there is no problem with racial issues are the ones that haven’t had to deal with it.

    These views are in violation of the oath all U.S. military members take upon enlistment to defend the constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.

    Perhaps, you can familiarize yourself with the work of SPLC. You’ll soon see this is by no means an isolated event.


  2. Interesting post, yet scary given the content/thought that even though our American men and women serve in the same colored uniform that skin color is an issue.


    Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope you visit my site again soon.


  3. Michelle,

    As someone that’s followed your writing for many months, I appreciate you taking the time to also keep up this blog.

    I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the first comment from Ann. According to her, if you point out racism, it makes you a racist. This is ridiculous! The post you published was in other news outlets. I wonder if Ann gets out much. If she did, she’d see this is only one case of many that have have been broadcast lately.

    Keep up the good work. Don’t pay any attention to those like Ann that would love for you to sit back and do nothing.

    I was a Lt. Col during the first Gulf War and I saw racism up close and personal. It was not wide spread but it was there. Problem was that no one did a thing about it. My own take on things was there was so much to be done it was treated as low priority. This attitude only made matters worse.


    Your comment was appreciated, especially since it came on the heels of someone that thought I was racist by pointing out racism. Like you, I thought her comment was a bit comical.

    Oh…I’ll email you the links you requested. Yes….put the photos of the new puppies up on your site! They are adorable.


  4. I saw this on the news yesterday. My husband is in Iraq. He has mentioned situations like this.

    Thank you for posting this article.


    Thank you for responding. I read through all the links you sent me regarding similar situations at the military base out near you. I don’t know why these are not all made public 😦


  5. Part of why this problem continues is because of the ‘unspoken’ support from people in the neo-nazi’s chain of command. While I was in the service, it was not unusual to have racist and extremely sexist people do and say whatever they wanted, if phrased in a way that wasn’t considered too over the top. They are aware of their skin heads and they also support the skin heads. It is not just because they fail to act. They fail to act because (to a certain extent) they agree with it. That’s my opinion and right now, I’m sticking to it.

    Meanwhile, back to nicer things:
    *sends Valentine’s Day candy*

    SteadyCat…My Friend,

    Absolutely right! This could not continue if those in authority where such things take place…didn’t turn a ‘blind eye’. The military “TALKS” about zero policy regarding this issue…but it by no means has been implimented within all ranks.

    **Thanks SteadyCat for the candy! I’m glad you knew my favorite candy is “Smarties”. I gave a few to Jenny, too** 🙂


  6. Michelle,

    I’m not saying that racism doesn’t happen, nor am I saying that it doesn’t occur in the context of the military. I’m just saying that if you are representing the whole military in these terms, I believe you are mistaken. It’s like the Iraq prison scandal. The entire military is smeared by the actions of a tiny minority of rogue soldiers.


    Hi Ann…

    First I would like to address your mis-chararcterization of my post. I stated that racism has no place in the military. I did not state that the majority of people in the military were racists. If there was a case of an assault and the military turn their backs I would state that there was no place in the military for assault. Soldiers are sworn to defend their country, not debase each other.
    As with regard to the “prison scandal” you have bought into the Bush Administration defense that this was the action of a few rogue soldiers, non-coms at that.

    Since you like to do research spend some time reading Gen. Taguba’s report or Ann Mayer’s book The Dark Side. Then you will see that higher military officials authorized the so called enhanced interagation techniques, such as humiliation that was imported to Abu Ghraib from Guantanamo. Take time to watch Taxi to the Dark Side before you state the same old rhetoric. Again this is not smearing the Military, they had instructions from higher up the chain of command.


  7. Michelle,

    One of the great blessings of the internet is having people recommend books to you, but at the moment I’m up to my ears in books. Currently mid-way through a biography of Miles Davis while also reading about clinical hypnosis and most recently beginning a biography of Einstein. So …. I’ll add yours somewhere to my list for sometime.

    I framed my remarks based on my experiences as a civilian observer of military service members while doing hospital volunteer work. For a year (about ten years ago) I also worshipped at a military chapel in the most integrated environment I’ve ever encountered — roughly half African-American, half white congregation with an African-American Major serving as chaplain.

    I also live in a predominantly black area (I’m white) and have over the years met various African American soldiers both active duty and retired. I don’t say your account is untrue, just that it’s an anomaly. Most African American soldiers I’ve met have found their military service rewarding.

    Best, ANF

  8. Any racism is alarming, let alone in the military regardless how small a percentage it may be. As humans, we still have so far to go. Yes, we’ve gotten better and have come a long way, but still a long journey is still ahead.

    I recently visited a touring racism exhibit … thus highly recommend it to anyone and everyone near the exhibit. Here’s my post, which includes a link to the schedule.

    Thank you for including this link. I took my time reading it…and learning. I’d love to be able to see this.


  9. As a professor, I teach psychology and philosophy and have always found the topics you publish to be on target. However, more than that, you leave room for debate and discussion. This is the reason your site was recommended to my students. They, of course, are all adults.

    I’m always delighted when one of my students shows me a printed copy of one of your articles. Whenever this happens, we leave some room at the end of the class for some often heated debate.

    You seem well rounded on many topics. One of my students asked if we could invite you to speak at our end of semester bash. Then the whole class thought this was a good idea. If this is a possibility, would you email me?

    I’ve also read your writing through the NY Times and Washington Post.

    Samantha Huddleston, Ph.D.

    Dr. Huddleston…

    Your gracious comment was appreciated. I will definitely email you regarding your offer. I checked out the links you provided to the university. As a matter of fact, I’ll be in North Carolina about the same time as the event you mentioned. I have some speaking engagements throughout the summer…but also have a class reunion to attend in August.



  10. You beat me to this one. I was going to write about this very thing.

    I also heard about a policeman in Orlando, FL resigned after it was discovered he was affiliated with the Klan.


  11. Michelle, I put my comment here because it’s your most recent post though this comment is a little off topic — upon consideration, however, perhaps not far off.

    I read the post you recommended and do see the issue you discuss above in a completely different light. I suppose I greatly misunderstood your intent and would like to add to others’ remarks that racism has no place in military life. Unequivocally. Period. But I can also see now, in light of other things you’ve written, the frustration of having others disregard charges without hearing all the facts. Persons charged with crimes are presumed innocent, etc., but still there is the question of determining when/if a crime has occurred and taking action on behalf of, and showing concern for the victims.

    So, just wanted to say that. Then, too (the off-topic part) I am not presently a member of any particular church and sometimes feel self-conscious about my religious exile. But I am aware that sometimes people involved in what they believe are genuine churches can get caught up in disfunctional and manipulative forms of social pressure. So, it’s complicated certainly.

    Whatever one’s circumstances, I have always felt that if God is real, then God is approachable through the mediation of our own individual lives. The passage in Romans is what comes to mind, for me, that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Personally I feel the effects of these words in my life.

    Ironically, I just googled that quote to check the reference and find in the first listing a rather negative spin put upon it! So, there are those in the church who attempt to turn some of the Bible’s most comforting messages into frightful warnings! Oh, well.

    But I come to that conclusion through ordinary reason as well. I know that my life is quite literally in God’s hands (have had enough near misses to realize that). When you find people in the church using manipulation hoping to compell you to accept unacceptable ideas, definitely let common sense come to your rescue. I’d urge listening to your heart. We can usually tell when we’re being bullied or when others are trying to pull something over on us.

    God gave us human intelligence as a gift like other gifts, and we can with confidence use the gift thinking about the God from whom we receive it. Thank you for dialog that reminds me not to be afraid to look into questions more carefully.

    Hope that you finally found a solution to the troubles you were then facing.

    Ann’s New Friend

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