NBC Cherry Picks Facebook to Discredit Our Republic’s Ultimate Defenders

I read a recent NBC story -- In secret Facebook groups, America's best warriors share racist jabs, lies about 2020, even QAnon theories -- in which the writer, Carol Lee, alleges radicalization, extremism, and significant racism among US Special Operations Forces (SOF). Lee bases this over-the-top declaration because she gained access to four “secret” Facebook groups. She also approached some DoD officials with questions about extremism, leading to some run-of-the-mill responses. This is at best shoddy journalism and at worst a leftist hit piece on our most elite and dedicated military professionals.

To begin, these so-called “secret” groups are really “members only” groups that anyone can create on Facebook. No group or page on Facebook is truly private, let alone secret. One can only assume Lee uses the word “secret” to imply that something nefarious is going on and, by Lee’s definition, my members-only neighborhood group page is also secret and should invite media scrutiny.

I am a Special Forces (SF) disabled veteran and I belong to both groups mentioned in the article, “The Special Forces Brotherhood PAC” and “The Special Forces Team Room.” I belonged to others too, though admittedly, I spent relatively less time in the much smaller “Team Room.”

These are “members only” groups. The moderators require proof that you served in the US Army Special Forces to join. That these groups are Army only is important because Lee misleadingly implies that they are indicative of all SOF forces, which include units of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, and that would not be allowed into these two Amy SF groups.

Lee also implies that there are some 70,000 other SOF troops and tens of thousands of SOF veterans who could become radicalized by participating in these groups. First, the overwhelming majority of SOF troops, some 80-90%, aren’t core fighters but are, instead, in critical supporting roles, like pilots, clerks, supply managers, intelligence, etc. They are not the Green Berets and would not be allowed in these two groups either. This is a blatant exaggeration on Lee’s part.

Currently, these two Army SF groups have about 5,000 members, most of whom are retired and former Special Forces soldiers. They -- not active-duty troops – did most of the posting. Active-duty troops rarely have time or incentive to devote to posting their thoughts on Facebook.

In my experience, only about 60% of the members post anything regularly and only a tiny handful espouse any of what Lee defines as extremist views, such as believing in Q-Anon. More members believe that there was election fraud in 2020, and some of those believe completely that the election was stolen, views that Lee and the political Left believe are extremist. If that’s the case, you can lump in 75-80% of these group members along with the conservative half of our country.

What about that handful of extreme views? Some of them are pretty bad, and by that, I mean the overwhelming majority of group members see them that way too. The…ah…feedback to someone who posts an extremely crazy, mean, or even thoughtless statement is brutal.

Granted, we do tend to say what we think in ways that the politically correct crowd might find shocking, but I never saw anything like an “extremist call to action” that would be taken seriously by anyone else in the group. Don’t confuse relatively extreme language with extremist or radical intent.

In my experience, group members immediately attack and discourage any truly racist comments. Moreover, the original post is more likely to have been the result of a careless choice of words than truly racist beliefs. Recently, the group passionately debated whether racism is systemic in our country or not. This is a debate more Americans should have and it’s not racist to have it, though I am sure some people will interpret it that way.

I won’t deny that we may have a tiny handful of racists, as is true for any other group, and I’m pretty sure somebody at some time may have posted something to that effect. Nonetheless, if there were genuine race haters in our midst, they knew to keep their mouths shut to avoid the wrath of the rest of us.

Lee states that she showed some selected posts from the groups to Garry Reid, Director for Defense Intelligence at the DoD for comment. Reed’s response was, “This is very disturbing material…that in no way would mirror the behavior expected of persons employed by the Department of Defense, and…U.S. military.”

I’m quite sure Reed lacked time to delve into Facebook and read hundreds of posts for their context or to assess the responses from the general group members. He may have simply reacted to whatever little he saw. Of course, Lee did not indicate which posts she shared with Reed.

Lee added that “…in terms of race, there are expressions of frustration in multiple posts that white men are being targeted.”

Does that belief make one a racist? The media certainly does not condemn black Americans or any other identity group as racists for saying that they feel targeted. On the other hand, all one needs to do is look at news reports on how CIGNA, the huge US health insurer, made it clear that white men should not be hired. Coca-Cola recently urged its employees to be “less white”. These are not fringe elements of society, but mainstream corporate America loudly proclaiming that white men are the problem. They are not the only ones either, and if that isn’t racist and reason to feel targeted, what is?

As for QAnon, I never paid much attention to it. Why? Because it was coming from what I saw as a handful of extreme conspiracy theorists. Many people who responded to those kinds of posts were either ridiculing them, or asking questions, or commenting out of curiosity. I can’t say whether anything they posted was right or wrong, all I can guess is that, like everyone else in our groups, they tended to mirror the makeup of the conservative half of our society.

It appears to me that Lee may have taken the worst posts as examples of how everyone in these groups thinks and acts, which isn’t true. Lee implies that there are much greater numbers of potentially radicalized personnel associated with these two groups as well. Her reporting is either shoddy or a purposeful hit on all our SOF personnel, who tend to be much more conservative than not.

If the left is genuinely afraid of anyone who might ultimately stop the move toward socialism in this country via force of arms, then professional SOF forces would certainly constitute the final threat. Who better to try to tear apart using the same old identity politics than the most constitutionally loyal and professional military forces?

The author training Colombian Counter Narcotics Police in 1990.

It should comfort readers to know that Special Forces are specifically recruited for a number of characteristics, which include an intelligent and open mind, and the ability to work closely with, fight alongside, and possibly die for our foreign military counterparts. Racists wouldn’t last long since most of our work is done with different races around the world.

Special Forces soldiers tend to take their jobs very seriously. They train intensively, believe in things like honor and loyalty, and believe absolutely in their oaths to the US Constitution. On active duty, the operations tempo and deployment intensity simply allow no time for Facebook types of distraction. Despite Lee’s anecdotal reasoning, extremists who threaten Special Forces’ effectiveness on the battlefield or the safety and security of our nation would be weeded out of the regiment very quickly.

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