Should US Military Teach Soldiers Critical Race Theory? Top General Speaks Up

The Republican Party has criticized the American Military for teaching critical theory at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Several Republican-led states have even demanded the removal of discussions about race from school lesson plans. But the top generals of the Military have defended the military's decision and have fired back at the Republicans.

Speaking at the House Armed Services Committee hearing held on June 23, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the America's highest ranking military officer, gave befitting answer to those demanding ban on study about race. He spoke his mind while giving his testimony on the 2022 National Defense Authorization Budget Request. "I've read Mao Tse-tung. I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin. That doesn't make me a communist," Milley said.

Racism is not patriotism racist
Image for representation only. Pixabay

"Situational Understanding about Country's Issues"

"So, what is wrong with understanding ... having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And 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," Milley said further.

"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. And I'm white," he said. He was referring to the attacks on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump on January 6. "

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," said Milley.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III also testified along with Milley and said, "We do not teach critical race theory. We don't embrace critical race theory. And I think that's a spurious conversation. We are focused on extremist behaviors, and not ideologies, not people's thoughts, not people's political orientation. Behaviors is what we're focused on," said Austin.

Republicans' Objections

The justification was an answer to Republicans including Florida Representative Matt Gaetz's criticism of military's study materials. Gaetz' main bone of contention was Austin's decision to implement a one-day "stand-down" in February to offer military leaders the chance to train troops in identifying and addressing extremism in the ranks.

"It caused service members to other-ize one another, it impaired group cohesion. And interesting to me, is that I've heard those sentiments most frequently from units that are majority-minority," said Gaetz. Mirroring his views, Representative Michael Waltz said, "Cadets, families and soldiers were concerned and alarmed about a theory he said is "rooted in Marxism" and defines an entire race of people as the "oppressor."

As an answer to these concerns, Milley concluded by saying that there was no room in the armed forces for anyone who doesn't subscribe to the values of the United States of America outlined in the Constitution. "From private to general, there's no room for extremist behavior in the United States military," he said.

What is Critical Race Theory?

The Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a study of social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism. CRT is an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States who are interested in critically examining the law that deals with issues of race and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to attain racial justice.

According to CRT, rather than just a collection of individual prejudices, racism is systemic and institutional. Race is considered as a socially constructed identity that serves to oppress non-white people. Legal studies in this regard state that merely making laws on paper may not be enough and emphasize that that race can intersect with other identities including gender and class to produce complex combinations of power and disadvantage.

Republicans and conservative lawmakers in the U.S. have intensified their fight demanding ban on instructing critical race theory and anti-racism programs. In fact, reports claim that as of mid-May, legislation aiming at removing CRT from school syllabus has been passed in Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.