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What Connection Between Racially-Motivated Violence and US Foreign Policy?

The alleged shooter of the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Wade Michael Page, served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 1998, first at a base in Texas and then at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. An article in The Guardian today examines Page’s time in the military and includes this passage:

Page did well enough after joining in 1992 to be assigned to a psychological operations unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The unit is regarded in the US military as exclusive.

But at the time Fort Bragg was also a recruiting centre for white hate groups including the National Alliance, once regarded as one of the most effective such groups and also among the most extreme because it openly glorified Adolf Hitler. The Military Law Review at the time reported that National Alliance flags were openly hung in barracks and, out of uniform, soldiers sported neo-Nazi symbols and played records about killing blacks and Jews.

White supremacists have a natural attraction to the army,” the Military Law Review said. “They often see themselves as warriors, superbly fit and well-trained in survivalist techniques and weapons and poised for the ultimate conflict with various races.”

Is that perception on the part of white supremacists irrational: that joining the U.S. military is an optimal way to engage in, or train for, “conflict with various races”? It’s very hard to make the case that it is. There is ample evidence both of white supremacists’ encouraging adherents to join the U.S. military as well as those groups targeting service members for recruitment. It goes without saying that the vast, vast majority of members of the U.S. military are not members of white supremacist groups (indeed, only 62% of enlisted service members are non-Hispanic whites, though minorities are seriously underrepresented in the officer class). If anything, the attempt to Christianize the U.S. military is a greater problem than avowed members of racist groups joining the military (though those problems are arguably related). But whatever else is true, even the U.S. military’s own publication has recognized that “white supremacists have a natural attraction to the army.”

For all the endless chatter — and endless rights erosions — over the threat of Terrorism from Muslims, the reality is that there have been more Terror attacks on U.S. soil in the past decade committed by white, “right-wing extremists” than by Muslims. Philosophy Professor Falguni Sheth today provocatively argues that this spate of racially-motivated violence is directly connected to the decade-plus-long War on Terror that the U.S. has perpetrated.

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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