“What’s a Jewish person’s favorite Pokémon?” asked 2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer. “Ash.”
The soldier, who amassed 3.1 million followers, is extremely popular on TikTok for making vulgar comments typically while standing in his bathroom. In his latest TikTok, he tries to pass off a racist remark as humor.
“If you get offended, get the fuck out because it’s a joke,” he adds.
But Army leadership isn’t laughing.
2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer, a popular TikTok influencer with nearly 3 mil followers, posted a joke about the holocaust.
“If you get offended, get the fuck out because it’s a joke,” he says.
May be contrary to Army’s “Think, Type, Post” social media policy, but hey what do I know pic.twitter.com/TpkLr1xhPt
— Paul Szoldra (@PaulSzoldra) August 31, 2020
The XVIII Airborne Corps, to which Freihofer is assigned, just tweeted that it is looking into his behavior. 3rd Infantry Division also put out a statement that it is looking into the matter.
We are investigating reports of a Soldier assigned to XVIII Airborne Corps allegedly making vile remarks on a social media video. The statement made in the video is completely inconsistent with our values. We will review all facts and take appropriate action.
— XVIII Airborne Corps (@18airbornecorps) August 31, 2020
“3ID is investigating reports of a Soldier making vile remarks on a social media video. The statements made in the video are not indicative of the values we live by, and there is no place for racism or bigotry in our Army or our country,” the division wrote in a statement on Twitter. “An investigation has been initiated into this matter and the Soldier has been suspended of any and all leadership authorities effective immediately, pending the results of the investigation.”
Sign up for the Early Bird Brief
Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning
By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief.
His video, which has either been removed from Freihofer’s account or set to private, sparked a fury of conversations about white supremacy among U.S. service members. Paul Szoldra with Task & Purpose noted that the video was first sent to him by another officer, who said, “My 97 year old WW2 veteran grandfather helped liberate Dachau and would even now knock this kid’s teeth in with ease.
“If your big takeaway from Holocaust-joke-making-Lieutenant is ’Let’s use this as an example of what not to post on social media!’ you’re missing something,” wrote Guns and America reporter Victoria Chamberlain. “How about asking if perhaps we have a culture in the Army that perpetuates this as normal language in the first place.”
Sgt. Major of the Army Michael Grinston also weighed in, saying, “This is completely unacceptable. On social media or not, racist jokes are racist. Period.”
The Auschwitz Museum also particularly called out the way Freihofer framed the joke.
“He wrote: ‘For legal reasons this is a joke,’” the account tweeted. “What about moral reasons & respect? Would he look into the eyes of Survivors liberated by [the U.S. Army] and tell them this?
Earlier this year, Military Times polled 1,630 active duty service members about white supremacy and found it was on the rise from 2018.
“The 2019 survey found that 36 percent of troops who responded have seen evidence of white supremacist and racist ideologies in the military, a significant rise from the year before, when only 22 percent — about 1 in 5 — reported the same in the 2018 poll,” according to the results.
“Overall, troops who responded to the poll cited white nationalists as a greater national security threat than both domestic terrorism with a connection to Islam, as well as immigration.”
About Sarah Sicard
Sarah Sicard is the Digital Editor of Military Times. She previously served as Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, Defense News, Fast Company, Business Insider and AdWeek.