Trending Topics

‘I Call Them Americans’: Alabama Senator Says There Are No White Nationalists In Armed Forces, Just ‘Great People … That Are MAGAs’

An Alabama Republican senator recently said he doesn’t believe the presence of white nationalists among the ranks of the U.S. armed forces is a problem.

He contends the assertion from “Democrats” that there are bigots serving the nation is one of the reasons why the military recruitment numbers are low.

In an interview with Birmingham-based radio station WBHM last week, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville said America’s military is in shambles because of rhetoric he says the left has spewed about alleged racism in service branches such as the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

WASHINGTON, DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES – 2023/03/03: US Senator Tommy Tuberville speaks on the 1st day of CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) Washington, DC conference at Gaylord National Harbor Resort & Convention. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“We are losing in the military — so fast — our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I can tell you why. Because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in [President Joe Biden’s] agenda,” said Tuberville, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“They’re destroying it,” he continued. “This year we will not reach any recruiting goals in the military.”

Tuberville, an Arkansas native who rose to fame in Alabama during his 11 seasons as the coach of state football powerhouse Auburn University, was elected to the Senate in 2020. Three months after being elected he was appointed to three subcommittees on the Senate Armed Services Committee: Strategic Forces; Emerging Threats and Capabilities; and Personnel.

When asked by the WBHM interviewer if he believes white nationalists are an issue in the military, he disavowed that notion, responding, “They call them that. I call them Americans.”

Tuberville’s stance seems to contrast with the Defense Department’s own assessment of the issue.

Gary Reed, the director for defense intelligence and counterintelligence, law enforcement and security, said in a federal release issued in January 2021, “We … are doing everything we can to eliminate extremism in the Department of Defense. DOD policy expressly prohibits military personnel from actively advocating supremacist, extremist or criminal gang doctrine, ideology or causes.”

The statement added that the FBI and the DOD are working closely together to “identify any current or former military personnel engaged in domestic extremist behaviors” and said the government is familiar that “some military personnel are seduced by the violent militia behavior.”

A month later, the Pentagon released a report stating it has identified white supremacists in the armed services in a plethora of ways, including by extremist tattoos worn by some military personnel.

The survey notes that while overt neo-Nazis and other extremists are rare, they are finding that these hate organizations are flooded with people who were once serving the nation in uniform.

“Despite a low number of cases in absolute terms, individuals with extremist affiliations and military experience are a concern to U.S. national security because of their proven ability to execute high-impact events. Access to service members with combat training and technical weapons expertise can also increase both the probability of success and the potency of planned violent attacks,” the report stated.

U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat who is a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a former member of the Armed Services Committee, said the report made clear to many that “supremacists are using our military to further their hateful and violent agenda.”

Tuberville’s radio interview also turned to a discussion of the Jan. 6 insurrection, when many Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. The first-term senator said he does not believe there is a connection between Jan. 6, white nationalism, and the military and claimed connecting the three is damaging to U.S. military recruitment.

“What happened after January the 6th — and I was here on January the 6th — we were attacked on the Senate floor,” the 68-year-old began. “Saying all these people that came into the Capitol were extremists, they were against the country … There was a lot of people. There were probably a hundred of them that came in, broke windows, and broke doors that should have been locked up.”

“But there were hundreds of thousands that didn’t come in, outside, that were true Americans that believe in this country,” Tuberville continued. “But right after that, we, our military, and Secretary Austin put out an order to stand down and all military across the country, saying we’re going to run out the white nationalists, people that don’t believe how we believe. And that’s not how we do it in this country.”

In a note of clarification, WBHM mentioned that concerns of extremists and fascists infiltrating the military started before the Biden administration and the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Recruitment numbers have dipped slightly, but it is not clear if the drop is because of the nation’s commitment to making the military safe by removing racists from the ranks.

As the backlash about the interview grew, Tuberville attempted this week to clarify what he meant, as CNN reported on May 11.

“Here’s the problem, Democrats portray all MAGA Republicans as white nationalists, that’s not true, we got a lot of great people in the military that are MAGAs, that’s what I was talking about,” he said to reporters Thursday.

“I look at a white nationalist as a … as a Trump Republican. That’s what we’re called all the time, a MAGA person … I’m just that. Well, I agree that we should not be characterizing Trump supporters as white nationalists.”

NBC News reported in June 2022 that American culture has more to do with recruitment dips than blasting white nationalists.

“The pool of those eligible to join the military continues to shrink, with more young men and women than ever disqualified for obesity, drug use or criminal records,” the article reported. “Last month, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville testified before Congress that only 23% of Americans ages 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver to join, down from 29% in recent years.”

Recruitment goals met by all six branches averaged to be 83 percent in 2022.  While these numbers might not be a major issue across all branches, they are lower than just the previous year.

Back to top