WASHINGTON, D.C. – While the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public school classrooms is under fire across the county, the controversial doctrine is apparently being embraced by the U.S. military.
Utah’s Rep. Blake Moore, R-District 1, is among a growing chorus of members of Congress who oppose the introduction of CRT into the curricula at U.S. military academies.
“Our military’s mission is to protect our homeland. That’s it,” Moore explained during a recent telephone town hall meeting with constituents in northern Utah. “We need to ensure that mission remains very simple and very clear for the men and women who are willing to serve our country.
“We shouldn’t expose them to all these tangential concerns that we’re seeing play out in our culture,” he said. “There’s also talk about how the military should be fighting climate change. That’s not our military’s role.”
But Pentagon leaders have apparently developed a more nuanced view of their mission.
Under pressure from Congress and the Biden White House following the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered an unprecedented one-day stand-down during which every military unit would address the issue of “extremism in their ranks.”
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in late June, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the study of CRT by future military leaders at West Point.
“I want to understand white rage,” Milley told committee members, confirming that a recent guest lecturer at West Point had delivered a seminar entitled “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic movement launched by civil rights scholars and activists that contends that American institutions, including its legal system, are inherently racist. Some advocates of CRT demand that white Americans accept guilt for all transgressions against people of color in the past.
Milley’s testimony seemingly signaled that he accepts the view that the Jan. 6 disturbance on Capitol Hill was motivated by white racism rather than politics.
That view is definitely shared by Democratic congressional leaders who have become increasingly paranoid about the possibility of extremists hiding within the ranks of the U.S. military since Jan. 6.
That concern is fed by the fact that current DoD policy guarantees service members’ right of free expression, including membership in what civil rights activists consider hate groups, as long as they do not participate in activities like fundraising, recruiting or demonstrating for such groups.
The U.S. military services were desegregated by a presidential executive order from Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1948. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp have had only minor problems with racial tension since they became all-volunteer forces in the 1970s.
There is little evidence to support the current congressional concern that the U.S. military services are a hotbed of racial extremism.
A analysis by ABC News of the more than 400 people charged so far in connection with the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill found that none of them are active-duty service members. While 10 percent of those charged are military veterans, only two were Army Reservists and one was a member of the Virginia National Guard.
Moore is by no means alone in voicing objections to CRT becoming part of our armed forces’ training cycles. In the House of Representatives, members on record as opposing military instruction on CRT include Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Mark E. Green (R-KY) and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL). In the Senate, opponents of CRT include Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. James Boozman (R-AR).
Those lawmakers all agree that the widespread introduction of CRT into military training will adversely impact morale and unit cohesion.
“Most of these (race-related) issues are highly politicized,” Moore argues. “What we need to do is keep our armed services focused on what they really need to be doing.”
“Yes, we want a society free from the evils of racism,” he adds. “But the proper way to achieve that goal is to teach history in a way that emphasizes the contributions of civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman.
“We can’t whitewash history. But we shouldn’t editorialize our past either.”