Far-Right Congressman Complains There Aren’t Enough White People Joining the Army

Far-right congressman Paul Gosar is losing sleep over how few white people are enlisting in the army these days. 

“The number of white recruits has plummeted,” Gosar wrote in an unhinged fundraising email sent out Thursday, with the subject line, “dismantling woke marxist ideologies.” “[It’s] a casualty of this cultural skirmish that has left our Army beleaguered and besieged by ‘woke’ ideologies.”

“This is not merely a crisis of numbers,” Gosar added. “It is a crisis of spirit.”

Gosar was responding to a recent investigation by Military.com that found that the number of white armymilitary recruits has been on a downward trajectory for the last half decade. 

Far-right commentators quickly pounced on those findings, and claimed they were “proof” that the armed forces had become overrun by “Marxists” who are forcing “wokeness” on its ranks—and, as a result, alienating prospective white recruits. 

In recent years, supposed “wokeness” in the military has been a growing point of obsession among right-wing commentators, lawmakers, and culture warriors. That’s been driven, in part, by the Pentagon adopting LGBTQ-inclusive policies over the last decade. In 2011, the Pentagon rescinded the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, meaning gay and lesbian service members could serve openly. In 2021, a ban on transgender people serving openly was officially lifted. Growing LGBTQ acceptance in the military has inspired far-right memes painting American soldiers in rainbow flags, suggesting that they are “soft” compared to their global counterparts (images of Russia’s military, particularly when they first invaded Ukraine in early 2022, are often used side-by-side as comparison). 

The military also committed to investigating extremism in its ranks after dozens of Jan. 6 rioters were exposed as current or former service members, highlighting a problem that researchers had been warning about for years. In response, the Pentagon revised its definition of extremist activity and gave commanders new tools to help identify whether service members were becoming radicalized. 

The Pentagon’s efforts to address extremism in the armed forces has fueled anger on the hard-right, who say it’s just more evidence that the Biden administration is on a covert mission to impose marxism on the country and persecute ideological opponents who refuse to get in line. 

For example, a column published by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, in May 2021, claimed that “ideological indoctrination” was underway in several branches of the government, and the Biden Administration was trying to “introduce wrong-headed and highly inflammatory Marxist ideologies into military ranks.”

“The woke left views the military as a crucial ideological battlefield,” the column asserted, adding that “imposing anti-American racial ideologies directly threatens our national security.” 

Some white nationalists and neo-nazis online celebrated Military.com’s findings about the decline in white enlistment. 

“Reject the anti-white American Empire,” white nationalist publication VDARE declared in response to Military.com’s report. Encourage your sons to stay far, far away from service to a nation that hates you… And guess what: It’s happening.”

“Young white men don’t want to fight for a regime that despises them,” far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson wrote on Telegram. “Who could have possibly anticipated this?”

A user on 4chan shared a photo showing four non-white military service members. “Holy shit, this is what the US military looks like these days?” they wrote. “No wonder white people aren’t signing up anymore. Will America be able to win the next war it gets into with nothing but diversity soldiers?”

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Military.com’s investigation about declining white recruitment showed an overall downward trend of white enlistment in the army since 2018, while recruitment rates among Latino and Black enlistees remained mostly flat. The sharpest dip in white recruitment was seen in 2022. The overall shortfall for new army recruits last year was 10,000. 

While white grievances about supposed “wokeness” in the military could be one cause of declining recruitment, Military.com has identified myriad other factors explaining why fewer people—white or not—might not enlist. 

In an analysis published last summer, Military.com reporters pointed to the fact that the labor market was nearly at full employment, and historical patterns showing that military recruitment is challenging when the civilian job market is booming. In their recent investigation, they also pointed to one particularly grim possible explanation for the decline in white recruitment: the fact that young white Americans make up for about 75% of the tens of thousands of fatal opioid overdoses each year. 

But these alternative explanations didn’t stop Gosar—who has connections to white nationalists—from going racist fire-and-brimstone on the issue. Echoing some of the dark, apocalyptic, and existential language that’s been heard on the GOP presidential campaign trail, Gosar characterized the decline in white military recruitment as further proof that conservatives are waging a “pivotal battle for the soul of our nation.”

“Like a creeping shadow, these [marxist] doctrines have sapped our Army’s vitality, leading to dwindling ranks and dispirited hearts,” Gosar wrote. “The call of duty is clear – our armed forces must remain a bastion of merit, unyielding in its pursuit of combat readiness and effectiveness.”

Gosar did not respond to an email from VICE News asking whether he believed a decline in white recruits impacted the military’s strength or combat readiness. 

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