Alcee Hastings' Amendment Prevents 'Hate Groups' in Armed Services, But Who Determines 'Hate'?

Representative Alcee Hastings (D, Fla.) is touting his amendment to H.R.2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010. Section 524 stipulates a “prohibition on recruitment, enlistment, or retention of persons associated or affiliated with groups or associated with hate-related violence against groups or persons of the United States government.”

As Hastings congratulates himself on a job well done — you know, cuz no one else will — one has to wonder exactly who it is that will determine what a “hate” group is in order to keep the armed forces free of “hate-related violence”? It turns out Hastings has given this power to the office of the Attorney General of the United States. That would be Eric Holder, the guy that wants to release Guantanamo terrorists into the interior of the country.

It is also a bit frightening to imagine that the government that issued that now infamous report calling anyone that votes Republican and has an appreciation for the Constitution a dangerous terrorist threat is being also given the power to determine who is and who isn’t a member of a “hate” group. There is something perversely ironic about giving the government that determined that our military veterans are prone to terrorist activities and the lure of extremist, hate groups the power to keep haters from joining the military.

Hastings admits that the armed forces already have numerous regulations governing what sort of recruit is allowed to enter service. So, why do we need this further law?

“The Armed Forces already have a great many regulations in place regarding the prohibition on extremist activities by military personnel. But the problem is that in many instances recruiters and commanding officers are looking the other way.

So, because Hastings has spoken through the force of law, now all those hatemongers will disappear from our military. We are saved!

Of course, as I mentioned above, the key is just who or what is a “hate group”? How far does this determination go? Can we expect that who ever happens to sit in the Attorney General’s office is free and clear to make his own determination? This year Tea Party goers are persona non gratta, but if the GOP takes over should we assume that members of Moveon.org will become anathema for military service? On second thought, that might not work. No one at Moveon.org would deign to serve their country in the first place, they so “loath the military.”

In any case, we are on shaky grounds with this amendment. A “hate” group is such an amorphous term, isn’t it? And isn’t such a vague concept ripe for political gamesmanship?

The full language of Section 524:


Section 504 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

‘(c) Persons Associated or Affiliated With Hate Groups-

‘(1) PROHIBITION- A person associated or affiliated with a group associated with hate-related violence against groups or persons or the United States Government, as determined by the Attorney General, may not be recruited, enlisted, or retained in the armed forces.

‘(2) DEFINITION OF HATE GROUP- In this subsection, the terms ‘group associated with hate-related violence’ or ‘hate group’ mean the following:

‘(A) Groups or organizations that espouse or engage in acts of violence against other groups or minorities based on ideals of hate, ethnic supremacies, white supremacies, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, or other bigotry ideologies.

‘(B) Groups or organizations engaged in criminal gang activity including drug and weapons trafficking and smuggling.

‘(C) Groups or organizations that espouse an intention or expectation of armed revolutionary activity against the United States Government, or the violent overthrow of the United States Government.

‘(D) Groups or organizations that espouse an intention or expectation of armed activity in a ‘race war’.

‘(E) Groups or organizations that encourage members to join the armed forces in order to obtain military training to be used for acts of violence against minorities, other groups, or the United States Government.

‘(F) Groups or organizations that espouse violence based on race, creed, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

‘(G) Other groups or organizations that are determined by the Attorney General to be of a violent, extremist nature.

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