By Steve Beynon
A far-right group peppered white supremacist messaging at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Oklahoma, posting pictures to social media of a bathroom covered in racist slogans.
A Wednesday post on Telegram from White Lives Matter, a group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a neo-Nazi group, claimed one of its members placed stickers across a VA hospital in Oklahoma City with text including “Make White Children” and “White People First.”
“It was brought to our attention Thursday that inappropriate and offensive stickers may have been placed at the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System,” Terrence Hayes, a VA spokesperson, said in an email to Military.com.
“After a thorough search of the campus, remnants of stickers were found. At this time, it is unknown who placed these stickers and how long they were there” he added. “This conduct is absolutely intolerable and is an affront to our personal and organizational values. VA Police is investigating this matter.”
It is unclear whether the stickers were placed by a patient, a member of the hospital’s staff, or a trespasser.
White Lives Matter has more than 12,000 followers on Telegram, a platform with no active moderation efforts that has frequently been used for criminal activity such as child poronography and by terror groups including the Islamic State. It has become a favored communications tool for far-right groups since mainstream platforms like Instagram and Twitter have cracked down on white supremacist accounts.
“Make White Children” is a reference to the so-called great replacement theory, sometimes referred to as white genocide — the bedrock of many recent hate crimes and racist groups’ ideologies — centered on fears that non-white people will hold prominent roles in society and become a majority of the overall U.S. population.
Most recently, the gunman behind the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in May in which 10 Black Americans were killed was largely motivated by the racist conspiracy theory, according to his own manifesto.
The news comes as concerns over extremism grow on Capitol Hill. Those concerns are mostly over the far right, which the Department of Justice in 2019 said is “among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States.”
White supremacy has been at the center of many violent protests and threats against the government in recent years, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which sought to keep former President Donald Trump in power after he lost his reelection bid.
That mob was largely led by extremists groups that actively target veterans for recruitment, such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Those and other far-right groups are known to seek the knowledge in combat tactics and inherent social credibility veterans bring to their organizations. However, there is no evidence veterans or service members are more or less likely to be radicalized than the general public.