The Corner

Litmus Test for Enlistment?

Apparently, the House version of the defense funding bill “bars enlistment of anyone who has been an active participant in an extremist group,” according to today’s Navy Times. Obviously, the military already excludes dangerous radicals of various sorts through regulation, and should continue to do so, but the point of the bill is to remove discretion by cementing it in legislation and also to delegitimize non-preferred political views (like the DHS report on us dangerous extremists). The article continues:

This would include any groups advocating discrimination based on race, sex, creed, religion or national origin, especially if the group advocates to the use of violence — something recruiters will have to screen for if the bill becomes law.

The violence part is obvious — if you advocate violent change you are by definition an enemy of the Constitution. But what if you just think women shouldn’t be in the military? Or were in a Minuteman chapter armed only with a walkie-talkie but considered a “vigilante” by the people in power in Washington? And how long do you think it will be before “sexual orientation” is added to the list of protected classes?

And the original version of the provision was more sweeping, suggesting what its proponents really had in mind:

As initially passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year, the provision of the defense bill would have prohibited recruitment or retention of anyone associated with an extremist group, whether or not they were an active participant.

The House-passed plan called for the immediate discharge of anyone associated with a hate group. For current service members, the House plan had an exception from immediate discharge if a person had previously renounced their membership in a hate group. No exceptions were allowed for recruits who had been associated with hate groups, so even if they had renounced their membership they would have been barred from enlisting. . . .

As evidence of association with a hate group, the earlier House proposal would have accepted tattoos, e-mail or posting online, written material or attendance at meetings. Those evidence rules are dropped from the final bill, leaving it up to the Defense Department to decide how it will determine association with a group and how it will decide what constitutes “active participation.”

So, posting comments at a web site would get you barred from military service? And what do you want to bet the Southern Poverty Law Center would be hired to consult on how to identify “hate groups”?