President Joe Biden loves to warn the country about the threat of white supremacy, and his own administration has launched a soft inqusition into the most patriotic members of society, the men and women who volunteer to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.
Nearly three years into the Biden administration, the Department of Defense belatedly released the results of its in-depth review of domestic violent extremism in the military, and most Americans probably have no idea.
If the report had revealed even one secret Klansman, the legacy media would have trumpeted the results. Instead, there have been crickets.
Sure, the Washington Free Beacon, National Review, and The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted the results, but most legacy media outlets have uttered nary a peep about them. Even USA Today, which first published the report, largely ignored the report’s topline conclusion.
Why? The Institute for Defense Analyses, the nonprofit the DOD tapped to perform the review, finds “no evidence that the number of violent extremists in the military is disproportionate to the number of violent extremists in the United States as a whole.”
This contradicts the alarmist narrative about those evil conservatives who join the military to carry out an insurrection.
Capitol Riot Involvement
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed the military to observe a one-day stand-down to discuss and address extremism on Feb. 5, 2021, based on reports that some servicemembers took part in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. He issued a second memo on April 9, 2021, directing the DOD to counter prohibited extremist activities and launching an independent study on extremist behavior in the military. The institute published that report to little fanfare last month.
These and other actions suggested that the military has a problem with extremism, and the tie to the Capitol riot suggested that supporters of former President Donald Trump are the problem.
Yet the report finds that very few active-duty personnel took part in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. “Of the more than 700 federal cases in which charges were publicly available a year after these events, fewer than ten were for individuals who were serving in the military at the time,” the report notes.
The institute’s analysis of court martial cases finds that “extremist and gang-related activity” appeared in “fewer than 20 cases” since 2012. “If gang cases are excluded, the total number of extremist cases amounts to just one case per year over the period studied.”
The review also finds that the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not need an “extremism” offense because it already “includes a number of provisions under which the behaviors constituting prohibited extremist activities could be prosecuted.” Such provisions include Article 109 (destruction or damage to property), Article 115 (communication of threats), Article 116 (riot or breath of peace), and Article 128 (assault).
The military has struggled to define extremism without violating rights protected under the First Amendment.
The military prohibits certain extremist activities, such as supporting the overthrow of the U.S. government, encouraging military personnel to disobey lawful orders, supporting terrorism, advocating unlawful violence, and advocating for widespread unlawful discrimination based on race and other factors. Advocating for a true system of white supremacy where non-whites are systematically denied the same rights afforded to whites, would fall under advocating widespread unlawful discrimination.
A Salient Warning
Importantly, the institute’s report warns against the DOD overemphasizing the threat of extremism.
“DOD has used a wide variety of terms, phrases, and concepts to describe prohibited extremist behaviors and activities. As a result, service members at all levels told the IDA team that they are unaware of or confused about existing definitions and standards,” the report notes. “In the absence of a clear and consistent message, there is a risk that misinterpretations could lead to a significant division in the force along political and ideological lines, with some members of the military believing that they are being targeted for their views.”
Indeed, vague definitions of extremism have sparked alarm among conservative servicemembers who fear, based on Biden’s repeated demonization of his political opponents, that these efforts against “extremism” may target conservatives for their ideological and political views.
As The Daily Signal exclusively reported this month, the leader of the Southern Poverty Law Center—an organization that puts mainstream conservative and Christian groups on a “hate map” with chapters of the Ku Klux Klan—bragged about advising the Biden administration on its “domestic terrorism” efforts. That effort included the Department of Defense. The Biden administration has not denied the SPLC president’s claim, and multiple Republican senators have expressed alarm at the video.
“IDA found reason to believe that the risk to the military from widespread polarization and division in the ranks may be a greater risk than the radicalization of a few service members,” the report adds. “For this reason, IDA’s recommendations focus more on steps that could be taken to address underlying causes of extremist behavior than on punitive responses to such behavior.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., argued in a statement that the study’s “conclusions are a serious indictment of Austin’s entire effort,” which he said cost taxpayers $900,000.
“Yet the damage has been done,” Gallagher added. “As the report itself acknowledges, anecdotal accounts of military participation of events like January 6 ‘magnify the actions of a few and provide little information on the overall scope of the problem.’” He argued that Austin’s actions “have created a false impression with the public that the military has an extremism problem, thereby politicizing the Pentagon, undermining trust in the military and exacerbating the recruitment crisis with an already skeptical cohort of young Americans.”
“In order to stop the politicization of the DOD, solve the recruiting crisis, and save the all-volunteer force, DOD leaders must recommit to excellence in warfighting,” he concluded.
The military should listen to the institute’s advice. In the fiscal year that ended on Oct. 1, 2023, the Army, Navy, and Air Force failed to meet recruiting goals, military leaders testified to the Senate last month. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Military Strength, released Wednesday, finds that “the U.S. military is at significant risk of not being able to defend America’s vital national interests.” (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
Perhaps patriotic Americans think twice about signing up when they hear top military brass lecturing the troops about the dangers of “whiteness” and defending classes on “white rage.” Perhaps Americans of all races hesitate to follow the orders of commanders who see “all white people as racist” and promote ideologies that judge people on the basis of race under the rhetoric of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Institute for Defense Analyses noted that the Department of Defense “can no more tolerate advocacy of violent extremism in the ranks than it can tolerate racism, sexism, and discrimination.” Yet it seems discrimination in favor of the Left’s agenda on race too often gets a pass.
The Biden administration should learn from this report, and stop treating conservatives as some sort of domestic terror threat. The administration’s extremism rhetoric only sends the message that patriots who want to be judged on the content of their character are no longer welcome in the armed forces, and that’s a damned shame.
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