There is a propensity in our society and media to present veterans and the military as a threat. Some of it is cultural and based on history dating back to the Revolution. There is also a mindset out there that very actively tries to present veterans as real risks because of the psychological impact of being in combat. This was prominent in all our media after Vietnam and is coming about again.
The most recent example I have seen is presented in the Colorado Gazette which recently ran a story prominently promoting but vacuously documenting a link between the military and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMG). Comments from Steve Cook, head of the Midwest Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association like, “I think it makes a natural draw for them,” and “You have to look at people in the military and fresh back from deployment – they are into a warfare mentality.” makes my point in reference to military members participation in motorcycle clubs.
The Gazette article cherry picks from “OMGs and the Military 2014 ATF Report” compiled last year to paint a picture of out of control military participation in motorcycle gangs. True, there have been about a half dozen cases of criminal activity all of which were prosecuted under civilian and military law. The problem is the article’s grouping together of non-related incidents by peaceful military motorcycle gangs with the criminal ones.
The most prominent example of this approach is the demonization of the Infidels Motorcycle Club because it had a “Pig Roast on Ramadan” event. The Gazette characterizes this behavior as “extreme” and echoes faux concern by quoting Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman, who said, “It would be great concern if these were members of the military or contractors, not because of the barbecue, but because of the extremist views it represents,” The Gazette did not share that CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving material support of a terrorist organization.
The ATF report cites a whopping 100 cases of involvement by government individuals in OMGs. That number includes federal employees, contractors, law enforcement AND military personnel. It’s strange that a report that compiles numbers from a variety of non-military sources only cites military in its title. Then again, the Gazette article ends by invoking the recent example ”biker brawl in Waco, Texas, that left nine people dead and led to 170 arrests.” As if that has anything to do with military members participating in Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.
The Gazette is one story. The problem is this narrative has being repeated far and wide including major media outlets like NBC, Newsweek, the Huffington Post and Stars & Stripes with no correction or call for critical independent thought.