A U.S. marine is being investigated for sharing anti-Semitic and racist memes online

House Democrats are asking the Pentagon to explain how it screens service members across the armed services for extremist beliefs.
February 26, 2019, 8:09pm
A US marine is being investigated for sharing anti-Semitic and racist memes online

An active-duty Marine is under investigation for allegedly sharing anti-Semitic and racist memes online.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service confirmed reports of an ongoing investigation into an active-duty Marine but declined further comment. The investigation was first reported by Military.com.

News of the investigation comes less than a week after federal prosecutors said a Coast Guard lieutenant with 30 years in the military had stockpiled weapons and plotted “focused violence” to establish a “white homeland” in America. The fact that Lt. Christopher Hasson was able to fly under the radar for so long has cast renewed scrutiny on the Department of Defense’s decades-long effort to flush out far-right extremism from its ranks.

On Monday, House Democrats wrote a letter to the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security asking what they’re doing to screen recruits and monitor active-duty service members for signs of far-right radicalization.

Marine veteran Ed Beck posted screenshots from the now-deleted account belonging to the active-duty Marine under investigation. In those screenshots, the Marine asserts that he was national socialist (also known as a neo-Nazi) until “a couple years ago,” and says that he would have fought in the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the German Nazi party.

In other posts, he uses the N-word and shares images of swastikas, along with other racial slurs and profanities. He also describes himself as a recent convert to the far-right group the Catholic Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a Nazi sympathizer in the 1970s (all of its priests were excommunicated in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center). The organization has continued to disseminate anti-Semitic material, the SPLC says.

Since the 1990s, military personnel have been prohibited from holding white supremacist beliefs.

In a ProPublica/ Frontline report published last May, Beck said he’d struggled to make military officials pay attention when he flagged a possible extremist in their midst. Beck said he brought a dossier to military officials showing the extent of Marine Lance Cpl. Vasilios Pistolis’ involvement in neo-Nazi groups, including that he marched with white supremacists in Charlottesville in 2017, and was met with relative indifference.

ProPublica and Frontline reported that Pistolis previously was a leader in Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group that’s preparing for a race war. After their report last May, the Marines investigated and eventually dishonorably discharged Pistolis.

Cover: The U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Marine Corps seal hangs on the wall February 24, 2009, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)