As a concerned veteran of color, since last summer, I’ve been contacting members of Congress to share the multitude of racist experiences I’d had while in uniform. I also described an online article in the Military Times dated October 23, 2017, in which one in four troops said they’ve seen examples of white nationalism among fellow service members. The troops rated it as a larger national security threat than Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan according to their poll.
My biggest concern was exactly what happened on January 6 when white nationalist terrorists, some of them police officers, firefighters, active-duty military, and veterans, threatened our democracy. They beat and killed a police officer on the Capitol grounds. These animals beat a police officer with a flag and then flew the Confederate flag inside the Capitol. It’s infuriating that these are the same ones who tell us Blue Lives Matter. They seem to matter to the right wing only if you’re a cop that goes along with their racism and allows them to commit sedition.
Less than a week after the Military Times ran that article, the story broke of a self-described white nationalist and active-duty Coast Guard officer who was arrested on suspicion of being a domestic terrorist; he’d stockpiled an arsenal of illegal assault weapons and drugs. He planned to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” according to federal prosecutors. This inhuman individual held dreams of building a “white homeland” through “focused violence,”intended to affect government conduct by murdering Democratic lawmakers and members of the media he believed were traitors and enemies of the people.
This Coast Guard potential mass murderer had held a secret level clearance since 2005. He was found conducting internet searches on government computers for things like: “civil war if Trump impeached” and “best place in D.C. to see congresspeople.” Let that sink in for a moment: A person charged with the safety of the public and with access to sensitive material could have been one of the most dangerous hitmen to our democracy had he not been caught.
There are people in uniform in very sensitive and secure locations that the public cannot trust. We cannot sweep under the rug how dangerous it is to have this ideology fester. Real changes must occur to root this out in every uniformed service, police, fire, and hospital environment. Politco released an article just today: “The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn’t know how bad it’s gotten” on Thursday.
I’m sad to say that I believe the slow response and lack of security at the Capitol on January 6 was purposeful and possibly coordinated from within. The difference in the amount of police during the Black Lives Matter protest near the Capitol versus a day where most intelligent people knew right wing mobs would descend on Congress was glaring. Had they been successful and murdered or kidnapped members of Congress and the vice president, we would be under a Nazi fascist regime right now.
I’m a Hispanic who grew up in New York City during the ’70s when it was extremely segregated and right-wing leaning. My white stepfather brought us there to live. He was a detective with the NYPD and one of the most racist people I’ve ever known. I wonder how many lives he changed for the worst. It’s no surprise to me that Trump became president. In that neighborhood, they were saying he should run as far back as I can remember.
I will never forget how Trump put an ad in the New York Times against the Central Park 5 and the excitement it caused in the right-wing folks around me. Most of my childhood, being a person of color, I was told to “go back over the border” and that “spics” don’t belong here. I joined the military to prove them wrong.
My first duty station was at Malmstrom Air Force Base during the Cold War, inside an underground nuclear missile launch facility with Minuteman III ICBMS pointed at the Kremlin. What scares me most is that the first time I heard Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones’s racist conspiracy rhetoric was from fellow Airmen stationed inside that same underground nuclear missile silo. A lot of them spoke about the coming Civil War and how they were preparing for Armageddon. When you work in a place that can end the world, it’s not an easy thing to forget and know how close fanatics like these are to the actual instrument that can do it.
What I imagined watching the events unfold on January 6 was that people with this type of ideology are that close to the trigger that could kill us all. What if they held our nation hostage or were able to get around protocols and launch a nuke at a liberal California city? This is what keeps me up at night and inspires me to speak out until someone listens.
I didn’t expect my point about the Military Times article to be proven so quickly in such a fashion. I hate to say, “I told you so,” but this is a problem we need to face right now.
We lost a generation of men fighting the same ideology in Europe during WWII, where it should have been allowed to die, instead of taking root on our own soil. How many Neo Nazis are out there in uniform with access to weapons, training, and our nation’s secrets, and who have the intention of bringing our country to its knees?
If this worries you, don’t let my voice be the only one. Pick up the phone and contact Congress and the Senate. Let them know we need to close the door of this danger to us now, or they will do it again. You can bet on it.