The Pentagon official in charge of leading the effort to shut down extremism in the military seems to believe that supporting former President Trump classifies you as an “extremist.”
The official, Bishop Garrison, is a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and head of the Pentagon’s Countering Extremism Working Group. Garrison expressed his view in a series of tweets on July 27, 2019.
“Silence from our Congressional leaders is complicity,” Garrison tweeted. “He is only going to get worse from here, & his party and its leadership are watching it happen while doing nothing to stop it. Support for him, a racist, is support for ALL his beliefs.”
“He’s dragging a lot of bad actors (misogynist, extremists, other racists) out into the light, normalizing their actions,” he added. “If you support the President, you support that. There is no room for nuance with this. There is no more “but I’m not like that” talk.”
Prior to his role at the Pentagon, Garrison worked as director of national security outreach at Human Rights First. A former Army officer, he also served as an aide to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign.
The Pentagon established the Countering Extremism Working Group, or CEWG, in April. The group was formed in a bid to crack down on extremism in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. At the time, Pentagon officials noted that some riot participants were either current service members or military veterans.
Officials said the CEWG would be tasked with updating Department of Defense guidelines to “more specifically define what constitutes extremist behavior,” among other tasks. Garrison will oversee the effort and provide recommendations on potential changes to Pentagon policy.
Earlier this month, The Intercept reported that the Pentagon was prepping a program that would screen social media posts of military members for “concerning behaviors” related to extremism – something that could become an extremely dangerous attempt to politicize the military if Garrison helps to classify conservative viewpoints as “extremism.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby pushed back on the report. “Mr. Garrison is leading the extremist working group on a number of efforts to try to help us come to grips with learning how, what the scope and scale of the problem of extremist activity in the ranks really is and helping us divine some potential solutions, going forward,” Kirby said.
This is not the first we’ve seen of the Biden administration attempting to politicize the military and it certainly won’t be the last.
The most notable recent instance was one U.S. Space Force commanding officer, Lt. Col Matthew Lohmeier, who was relieved from his post after denouncing both Marxism and Critical Race Theory in the military.
“What you see happening in the U.S. military at the moment is that if you’re a conservative, then you’re lumped into a group of people who are labeled extremists, if you’re willing to voice your views. And if you’re aligned with the left, then it’s OK to be an activist online because no one’s going to hold you accountable,” Lohmeier said.
Author: Jonas Veen