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AP: New policies may fail to address US military racism, extremism

Reuben Green, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, poses beside a War I memorial in Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 26, 2021. Green tol the AP he endured and witnessed countless acts of racism through his time in the service from when he first enlisted in 1975 through the mid-’90s. He said it’s disheartening to see the military struggling decade after decade to deal with racism and extremism in its ranks. (AP Photo / Gary McCullough)

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Investigative reporters Kat Stafford and James LaPorta teamed up to reveal that despite recently issued Department of Defense guidelines, racism and extremism in the U.S. military remain a concern. Among the most significant policy updates, “liking” and reposting white nationalist and extremist content on social media could result in disciplinary action.

But Stafford and Laporta found that the new guidelines failed to address hate crimes or ongoing racial disparities in military law. Numerous studies show Black and Hispanic service members were disproportionately investigated and court-martialed.

The pair also found that the Pentagon rules do not outright ban service members from being members of extremist organizations,such as the Ku Klux Klan,Oath Keepers or other right-wing and white nationalist groups. The regulations,like the previous ones,only prohibit “active participation,” in such groups.

These concerns aren’t new. Stafford and LaPorta reported on the decadeslong history of racism in the military,and they point to previous DOD efforts that have fallen short of rooting out extremism in the ranks.

The investigation,part of AP’s “Racism in the Ranks” series, earned widespread attention online and landed on the front pages of at least a half-dozen newspapers.

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