"Becoming A Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect Of Serving Your Country?"
That was the question posed last week by the Huffington Post, headlining a piece of opinion journalism so full of factual holes, it's basically the journalistic version of a spaghetti strainer.
In the article, HuffPo contributor David Fagin suggests, without proof, that military veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts made up the bulk of “security” for the neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups who now-famously marched in Charlottesville. He admittedly got the unconfirmed tidbit from a Vice News reporter named Elle Reeve, who made the claim on air to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Without pausing to confirm Reeve’s statement, Fagin, who presumably lacks both a degree in psychology and a first-hand knowledge of military service, grabs ahold of her claim and charges face-first into a wall of hastily generalized assumptions.
“To hear that these veterans claim they were ‘radicalized’ in Iraq and Afghanistan during their tours of duty is one of the more unfortunate things to come to light regarding the side-effects of serving your country,” he muses.
Of course, this automatically assumes that A) racist veterans were actually on neo-Nazi security payrolls, which hasn't been established, and B) that their racism simply must have been caused by their military service, not any other environmental factors.
Fagin then points to PTSD as a potential trigger for such post-military racism, blaming the psychological effects of war for stirring up veterans’ hatred of minorities.
“To learn that these brave men and women over there return with a new-found hatred for those different from them, especially after their mission is one of liberation from those who kill and persecute anyone of different faiths/beliefs, is quite disturbing to say the least,” he states -- again, without having spoken to any such veteran, and without pausing to consider that the assumed facts he's spewing may be untrue.
Fagin’s piece continues in a sloppily-written diatribe that basically amounts to a verbal pat on the head for all those poor little veterans who just can’t help but be racist, blaming the military for not “doing enough in the area of outreach, post-discharge” for those who might sail off to war an upstanding picture of patriotic valor, only to return as a black-hating Nazi thanks to their service.
Oh, and Trump. He also blames Trump. Because of course.
Then again, Fagin also refers to inner city residents en masse as “scum” and labels Iraq and Afghanistan as “shitholes” throughout the article, raising the question of whether, regardless of the existence of racist military vets, the pot should really be calling the kettle black.