One in four US military personnel say they have experienced white nationalism or white supremacy while serving.
One in four US military personnel say they have experienced white nationalism or white supremacy while serving. MICHAEL REYNOLDS

White nationalism 'bigger threat than Islamists'

ONE in four serving US military personnel have seen examples of white supremacism within their ranks and consider it more of a threat to national security than the Islamist extremists they have been battling in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new poll.

The poll was conducted by the Military Times newspaper after a protest led by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia resulted in clashes with anti-fascist demonstrators and the death of a young woman.

A young man from Ohio said to be an admirer of Hitler has been charged with her death.

Almost 42 per cent of non-white troops who responded to the survey said they had experienced white nationalism or white supremacism in the military.

For white service members, the figure stood at 18 per cent.

Asked whether white nationalists posed a threat to national security, 30 per cent labelled it a significant danger, more than many war zones such as Syria (27 per cent), Pakistan (25 per cent), Afghanistan (22 per cent) and Iraq (17 per cent).

Some polled were annoyed by the decision to single out white supremacist groups.

"White nationalism is not a terrorist organisation,” wrote one navy commander.

An air force staff sergeant, wrote: "You do realise white nationalists and racists are two totally different types of people?”

The newspaper said five per cent of those polled complained that groups such as Black Lives Matter, whose stated goal is to protest in a non-violent way to draw attention to discrimination and violence towards people of colour, were not included in the poll as a possible threat to national security.

While the poll include unspecified "US protest movements” and "civil disobedience”, respondents' concerns about those issues fell well short of the perceived threat from white supremacism.

More than 60 per cent of respondents said they would support activating the National Guard or reserves to handle civil unrest arising from white nationalist events such as the clashes in Charlottesville.

Donald Trump was criticised for his slow, shifting response to the violence, seeking to claim there was blame on "many sides”. Yet senior leaders from all branches of the military spoke out to say that threats or discrimination against minorities did not fit with the values of national service the military sought to espouse.

- Andrew Buncombe, The Independent