Saturday, July 08, 2006

Troubled youth, troubled culture

Troublesome reports have surfaced about substantial numbers of rightist extremists, or ‘Neo-Nazi’s’, having been recruited in the US Army and effectively living out their Aryan fantasies amongst themselves but also out in the front, e.g. in Iraq and other places in the world.

The New York Times today quotes a Defense Department investigator, saying, "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members."

People belonging to ‘hate groups’ are exactly in the places where the United States project their selfappointed mission of democracy, christian righteousness and justice. This indeed must be a considerable embarrasment for the US Government, especially at a time of repeated accounts of US Army men apparently having gotten involved in shootings or even outright killings that are difficult to account for as normal acts (or risks) of combat.

It would be unwise however to treat these reports as mere exceptions to the normal rules of conduct. Young people with apparent affiliations to extremist or racist views are not mere aliens who can simply be traced and subsequently be taken out.

Moreover, to call them ‘Neo-Nazi’s’ is an easy way out. It suggests that they represent the last remnants of long forgotten, ill fated Germans, born on foreign ground. They are not. They are sons of US soil. They are the very product of the culture which now professes the wish to crack them down.

But no public expression of disgust of these young, ignorant men can take away the stains that are already there, and that are equally the product of the prevailing US culture. Stains that are called Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib prison, or more subtle: deliberately misconstrued intelligence to justify cracking down on an entire nation. In fact the source of extremism may well be the same sense of righteousness and superiority which runs through a significant portion of the US population.

So really, we should not turn our backs on these boys, but rather look into our own mirror.


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