Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another Version of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

You still can’t be openly gay and serve in the United States armed forces, but according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, if you’re a white supremacist, no problem.

Evidence continues to mount that current Pentagon policies are inadequate to prevent racial extremists from joining and serving in the armed forces. In recent months, we have found dozens of personal profiles listing “military” as an occupation on a neo-Nazi website. Because the presence of extremists in the armed forces is a serious threat to the safety of the American public, we believe Congressional action is warranted.

This isn’t new; as long ago as 2005 the Department of Defense knew that because of low volunteer rates, they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to fill the ranks.

Additionally, as seen in Appendix A, the relatively larger number of message board postings warning new recruits from revealing their extremist group associations exemplifies the presence of both military policy and action to disallow such activities in the Armed Forces. Effectively, the military has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy pertaining to extremism. If individuals can perform satisfactorily, without making their extremist opinions overt through words or actions that violate policy, reflect poorly on the Armed Forces, or disrupt the effectiveness and order of their units, they are likely to be able to complete their contracts.

As Amanda Terkel points out at Think Progress, “the right wing was apoplectic over the recent Department of Homeland Security report that warned extremists may ‘attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans.’ This doesn’t mean that all members of the military are racist or likely to sign up with extremist groups. But with more than 12,500 valuable service members discharged since 1994 for nothing more than their sexual orientation, it seems that the military is kicking out the wrong people.”