To combat extremism in the ranks, are we asking the right questions?
The January 6th Capitol riot (coup, storming, whatever) so far is seeing 190 people being charged for breaking, entering, stealing, and various other federal crimes that come along with trying to kill the Vice President. Thirty of those charged are veterans, and at least three were current members of the military.
There was a general shock from people hearing this. Even Miltwitter expressed their exasperation that their fellow servicemembers could turn out to be seditionist jackholes. Smugly, I will tell you Nate and I weren't surprised. Because of course there were a bunch of people in the Army ready to kill for a painted up gameshow host whose lucidity was brief and only to do racism. Of couse there are extremists in the military. And of course they are learning, recruiting, and growing.
I bring this up because of a Washington Post article I came across.
Is this the question that should be asked? Maybe. But before we can find out how many extremists are in the military, we need a definition of extremist. We can all agree that the guy with the Nazi flag and muttering obscenities when you watch a Mel Brooks movie is an extremist. But what about the guy with Don Jr's Triggered book and a phone full of Ben Shapiro rants?
I never met anyone in the Army with a Nazi flag, but I've met hundreds of soldiers who idly suggest nuking Afghanistan (Or Iraq. Or Iran. Really anywhere 'those' people live). I've heard around smoke pits about how we should just kill them all and be done with it. I've heard much much worse.
But are these extremist views? At the time they barely registered. That's just how we talk in the Army. We are people of violence. From the infantry grunt to the mail clerk, we're all trained and expected to kill if necessary. It's just talking shop.
Kicking out the obvious Nazi isn't going to stop extremism in the ranks. It's not getting to the root of the problem. What is the pathway to right wing violence, and when are you allowed to step in? Is it when you find your soldier with a copy of The Fountainhead? I'm not saying you take it away, I'm just saying you have an open conversation about the insane politics.