The top U.S. military official just gave the most reasonable speech on critical race theory
The controversy over critical race theory seems to have hit a fever pitch in the U.S.
Critical race theory (CRT) has been around for decades (the American Bar Association has a nice synopsis of it here). As with any academic theory, it’s complex, but in a nutshell, CRT examines how the social construct of race impacts the laws and institutions of our society. But recently, as Americans reckon more fully with the legacy of racism in our national story, the entire idea of CRT has become a political football, scapegoat, diversion, and bogeyman, depending on who’s discussing it.
There’s a lot of confusion in this discourse about what CRT is, as well as where and how it’s actually being taught, and some of that confusion has spilled into the U.S military.
Defense Secretary Austin was questioned at a House Armed Services Committee meeting today about CRT being taught in U.S. military academies. Representative Mike Waltz (FL-R), a former Green Beret, cited a letter he’d received from a superintendent at West Point about CRT materials being used in one class, as well as a workshop on “Understanding White Rage” that 100 cadets were taking. Representative Matt Gaetz asked Austin about it as well.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S., was offered a few minutes to respond at the end of the session. And his rational, reasonable, level-headed thoughts were a breath of fresh air.
Watch General Milley share his thoughts:
General Mark Milley hits back at uproar over critical race theory
Here’s the transcript of his speech:
“First of all, on the issue of critical race theory, etc. I’ll obviously have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is. But I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. And the United States Military Academy is a university, and it is important that we train and we understand. And I want to understand ‘white rage.” I’m white, and I want to understand it.
So, what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that. Because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardians—they come from the American people. So it is important that the leaders, now and in the future, do understand it.
I’ve read Mao Tse Tung. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding—having some situational understanding—about the country for which we are here to defend?
I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned and non-commissioned officers, of being quote ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there. That was started at Harvard Law School years ago, and it proposed that there are laws in the United States, antebellum laws prior to the Civil War, that led to a power differential with African-Americans that were three-quarters of a human being when this country was formed. And then we had a Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation to change it. And then we brought it up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964—it took another 100 years to change that.
So look, I do want to know. And I respect your service, and you and I are both Green Berets. But I want to know. And it matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military.
And I thank you for the opportunity to make a comment on that.”
Well said, General Milley.
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