‘I call them Americans’: GOP senator doesn't see a problem with white nationalists serving in the military
Senator Tommy Tuberville speaks on the 1st day of CPAC Washington, DC conference at Gaylord National Harbor Resort Convention on March 2, 2023. (Shutterstock.com)

A far-right U.S. senator who last year promoted a racist narrative about Black people earlier this week suggested he doesn’t have a problem with white nationalists serving in the military, AL.com reports.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) on Monday criticized President Joe Biden’s efforts to remove extremists group members including white nationalists from serving in the military during an appearance on WBHM, a National Public Radio affiliate in Birmingham.

“They call them that. I call them Americans,” Tuberville said.

Tuberville said that singling out any group would adversely impact the military.

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“We are losing in the military so fast," Tuberville told the radio station.

"Our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I’ll tell you why, because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda, as Joe Biden’s agenda. They’re destroying it. This year, we will not reach any recruiting goals in the military. So if we want to talk about looking weak, that’s where we’re going to look weak. We cannot start putting rules in there for one type, one group and make different factions in the military, because that is the most important institution in the United States of America, and our allies, is a strong, hard-nosed, killing machine, which is called our military.”

Tuberville’s office on Wednesday issued a statement to AL.com suggesting the senator’s comments reflected his skepticism that such extremist group members are currently serving in the military.

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“Sen. Tuberville’s quote that is cited shows that he was being skeptical of the notion that there are white nationalists in the military, not that he believes they should be in the military,” the statement from a spokesperson said.

“He believes the men and women in uniform are patriots. (Defense) Secretary (Lloyd) Austin seems to think otherwise, subjecting them to extremism training as his very first act in office. That cost us four million man hours.”

The U.S. military in early February acknowledged the presence of white nationalists and other extremists among its ranks and announced plans for a military-wide stand-downs pausing regular activity during the next 60 days to address the concern, Reuters reports.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who ordered the stand-down, issued a call to remove “racists and extremists” from the military.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said military leaders are under pressure to show progress in addressing extremism after former servicemembers were determined to have participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“We don’t know how we’re going to be able to get after this in a meaningful, productive, tangible way and that is why he had this meeting today and that is why he certainly ordered this stand-down,” Kirby told reporters.