Extremism, Violence, and Politics

The United States political discussions over the last few months have demonstrated something disturbing – a propensity for organized fervor resulting in violence. Seemingly isolated to radical groups previously, these events are presenting an opportunity for violent rhetoric to intertwine with a motivated aggression of the masses. Military members should have an opportunity to take part in politics, but what happens when things get ugly?

The military has a simple policy when it comes to politics. All members should be encouraged to take part in their responsibilities as citizens, but should refrain from demonstrating partisan activities while implying official sponsorship. In other words, do not wear the uniform to political events.In regards to extremist groups, military personnel must reject participation in extremist activities or organizations.

So, what should service members do when events that they are appropriately attending turn violent? The answer can be tricky. It would seem that a service member’s responsibility is to stand up for what is right. In Sacramento, California on June 26, 2016 a neo-Nazi protest was met by a counter-protest. Violence erupted almost immediately with both sides attacking each other. At the end of the day, seven people had been stabbed, and numerous others caught on video hitting each other with large pieces of wood as tempers rose.

Trump RallyPerhaps it comes as a surprise to many that the same freedoms we are sworn to defend on behalf of the Constitution allows many to demonstrate hate towards each other. The freedom of speech currently permits the burning of the American flag, or hateful comments in regards to people’s race, sex, or gender. As a service member though, upholding freedoms and protecting people should come hand in hand.

When a protest and counter-protest turns violent, if service members are present, they should not pick up the first heavy object and jump into the fray, but help to remove injured people and treat them. They should be the sensible people who attempt to stop the violence, instead of the ones instigating it. Even out of uniform, an assault and battery charge will have a profound effect on the career of a service member.

When politics come to town, service members should participate. They have earned the right along with their fellow citizens. If they know something is going to escalate though, they should consider the manner of their participation intelligently. Since October 14, 2015 more than 20 incidents of violence have occurred at Trump presidential rallies. While many of these are committed by individuals, the rhetoric and inciting of aggression towards people and cultures by political figures does not help.

It is the responsibility of all of us, service members and veterans, to step up and do the right thing regardless of location. It is the very nature of why we joined the military in the first place and our willingness to protect and defend our country is what makes military service so honorable. Please help us all to keep it that way.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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