Contrary to Post–Jan 6. Claims, the Military Does Not Overflow With Extremist Nuts - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Contrary to Post–Jan 6. Claims, the Military Does Not Overflow With Extremist Nuts
Jan. 6 riots (Gallagher Photography/Shutterstock)

The military as a breeding ground for domestic terrorists comes as the latest narrative to crash upon hard data.

A scientific survey of nearly 1,000 veterans by the Rand Corporation, released in a report called “Prevalence of Veteran Support for Extremist Groups and Extreme Beliefs,” shows that Americans with military backgrounds actually fall for fringe groups and beliefs less than do their peers in the broader public.

The study’s authors divulge that they “found no evidence to support the notion that the veteran community, as a whole, manifests higher rates of support for violent extremist groups or ideology than does the American public.”

These inconvenient findings contradict a narrative amplified in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot that violent extremism claims a disproportionate number of adherents among people with a military background. NPR in particular emphasized the role of current and former servicemen by claiming that nearly one in five arrested over that event belonged, past or present, to a branch of the armed forces.

The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center both pushed something along these lines. Headlines also conveyed the notion: “America’s 9/11 Wars Created the Foot Solders of Far-Right Violence at Home” (the Intercept); “Extremism in the military is a serious national security threat. The GOP needs to act like it” (MSNBC); and “Far-right extremism: An overlooked cost of the war on terror” (the Hill).

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, professor at American University, told the House Committe on Veteran’s Affairs, “Veterans are demonstrably more vulnerable to recruitment and engagement in the extremist fringe, compared to the civilian population.” Because of this, she argued, “Every U.S. service member who exits the military should be inoculated against the persuasive tactics and manipulative strategies of extremist groups.”


Behind the propaganda campaign hides another propaganda campaign. Those pushing this falsehood want license to conduct reeducation sessions for a captive audience of the 2 million or so active duty and reservist soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. By touting a problem that does not exist, the radical Left hopes to push political training on servicemen whose time finds better uses in other kinds of training.

The numbers indicate that society suffers to a greater degree than does its veteran subset from beliefs in extremist and violent ideologies, so the DEI cult likely will move on to some other justification — e.g., one extremist is one extremist too many — to push its ideas on uniformed personnel.

As Rand notes: “[F]ewer veterans expressed support for Antifa than the overall U.S. population (5.5 percent versus 10 percent), and veterans expressed much lower support for White supremacists than the U.S. population overall (0.7 percent versus 7 percent). Veterans also expressed relatively less support for the Proud Boys (4.2 percent versus 9 percent) and the QAnon conspiracy theory (13.5 versus 17 percent).” The idea of political violence, too, captured diminished support among veterans compared to the general populace.

Rand’s numbers do not track with the Left’s words.

“The McVeighs of the world are still there, we had about 4,500 of them crawling all over the nation’s Capitol,” Paul Eaton, a retired major general and current Democratic Party activist, last year told the Guardian.

The implication that detonating a truck bomb at a federal building that killed 168 people and putting a MAGA hat on a Gerald Ford statue in the Capitol amount to more or less the same thing shows that projection fuels the narrative about extremism.

The lack of self-awareness, of course, goes beyond this. For all of American history until the last decade or so, fixations on what others believe to the point of advocating government monitoring, reeducating, and punishing based on the ideas inside one’s head itself represented extremist behavior.

Will the real lunatic fringe please stand up?

Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website,   
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