Anger is brewing among service members and veterans groups after the publication of a New York Times op-ed that tries to link veterans and white supremacists. The piece came just days after a 73-year-old white supremacist and veteran, Frazier Glenn Miller, was arrested in an attack that killed three people at a Jewish center in Overland Park, Kansas.
In the column, op-ed contributor Kathleen Belew writes:
In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a nine-page report detailing the threat of domestic terrorism by the white power movement. This short document outlined no specific threats, but rather a set of historical factors that had predicted white-supremacist activity in the past — like economic pressure, opposition to immigration and gun-control legislation — and a new factor, the election of a black president.
The report singled out one factor that has fueled every surge in Ku Klux Klan membership in American history, from the 1860s to the present: war. The return of veterans from combat appears to correlate more closely with Klan membership than any other historical factor. “Military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists carrying out violent attacks,” the report warned. The agency was “concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.”
The report raised intense blowback from the American Legion, Fox News and conservative members of Congress. They demanded an apology and denounced the idea that any veteran could commit an act of domestic terrorism. The department shelved the report, removing it from its website. The threat, however, proved real.
She noted that Miller served two tours in Vietnam before setting up a KKK-affilated organization in North Carolina called the White Patriot Party. Miller was outspoken in his hatred of Jews, and is said to have operated a website dedicated to anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism.
The column has outraged veterans, including Fox News military analyst Col. Oliver North (Ret.) who reacted this morning on Fox and Friends. Steve Doocy asked whether it's really accurate to make people think that our nation's veterans "go off to war and then come back and join the Klan."
North called the column "unconscionable," and asked where the outrage is from leaders in Washington.
"Where is the outrage from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs? Where is the outrage from the Department of Defense? Why hasn't the Secretary of Defense demanded a retraction? How about the Commander-in-Chief, who ought to be standing up for the troops?"
North called out the Obama administration for putting out the 2009 DHS "hit piece" that sought to warn Americans about the dangers posed by returning veterans. He pointed out numerous examples of skewed coverage from the Left, saying outlets like the New York Times have cast the military in a bad light over the last 13 years, just as they did during the Vietnam War.
"Those who serve in our military today, Steve, are our best and bravest of their generation. They are just like their parents who were part of that 'Greatest Generation' who went off and did their duty in the words of Tom Brokaw. And they never got the thanks that they deserved. And what happened to our Vietnam veterans should never have happened. It shouldn't be happening now. We ought to get down on our knees over Easter weekend and thank God that we have people willing to serve our country in a time of great divisiveness," said North.
Watch the fiery remarks in the video above and let us know your thoughts!
On The Kelly File last night, Megyn talked to Iraq veteran Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He said immediately after the op-ed was published, he started hearing "complete and total outrage" from veterans across the board.
Rieckhoff said Belew's argument is "garbage."
"It isn't supported by the facts and it's really folding into this stereotypical narrative that veterans are either homicidal maniacs or victims, which we have to fight back against every single day," he said, noting that "veterans are unfortunately one of the few minority groups that it's still OK to stereotype apparently."
Rieckhoff said he'd love to sit down with Belew so he can hear her try to defend what she has written.
Watch that interview below:
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