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On Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) revealed the reports of many whistleblowers inside the armed forces who have complained that the military’s training to combat “extremism” has enabled superiors to push critical race theory (CRT) on them. This has set members of the military against one another and led some soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and guardians to resign.
Cotton pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on these issues, asking Austin to explicitly condemn some of the conclusions of critical race theory, such as the idea that the military itself is “fundamentally racist.” Austin begrudgingly rejected that idea, but his responses suggest an unwillingness to actually combat CRT in the military.
“Mr. Secretary, we’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and the sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected separations and retirements based on these trainings alone,” Cotton said, citing the whistleblower reports he has received from the troops.
Cotton summarized and quoted from many whistleblower reports, some of which proved extremely shocking. The senator said that he and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) have received “severe hundred whistleblower complaints about Pentagon extremist and diversity training.”
“One Marine told us that military history training session was replaced with mandatory training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism. He reported that several officers are now leaving his unit citing that training,” the senator reported.
“Another service member told us that their unit was required to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo which claims, and this is a quote, ‘white people raised in Western society are conditioned into a white supremacist world view,’” Cotton added.
“A member of the special-operations community has told us that they are being instructed ‘The U.S. Special Operations Community is racist,’” he said. “One Army officer relayed to us the words of his general officer who told him that the entire U.S. Army is racist.”
“A midshipman at the Naval Academy said that classmates are calling America a fundamentally racist place and that this sentiment is not contested by school administrators,” Cotton said. “An airman told us their unit was forced into a racist exercise called a ‘privilege walk’ where members of the wing were ordered to separate themselves by race and gender in order to stratify people based on their perceived privilege.”
White soldiers were far from alone in voicing concerns.
“One African-American officer disparagingly said, and I quote, ‘the Navy thinks my only value is as a Black woman’ and not the fact that she is a highly trained military specialist,” Cotton reported. “Soldiers have come forward to tell us that they have been forced to watch videos about systemic racism and documentaries that rewrite America’s history as a fundamentally racist and evil nation.”
“One Space Force officer told me that two guardians left his ranks in a short period of time. One was a young African American who said she never would have joined the military had she known that it was such a hot bed of racism. The other was a white airman who said he didn’t sign up to be indoctrinated and filed separation paperwork,” the senator noted.
After summarizing these reports, Cotton pressed Austin on some central CRT claims. “Mr. Secretary, do you believe that our military is a fundamentally racist organization? Yes or no, please,” he said.
“Well, I won’t give you a yes or no answer on that, senator, because it deserves more than a yes or no,” Austin replied. “The military, like any organization, will have its challenges, but I do not believe it is a fundamentally racist organization.”
Austin first refused to answer whether he believes any member of the military should be treated differently based on their skin color or sex, then he said, “I do not believe that.”
Cotton quoted from Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist. “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination,” he quoted. He asked Austin if he agrees with that statement, and Austin said he did not agree with it.
Both Cotton and Austin agreed that “if troops are subjected to the kinds of trainings drawing on critical race concepts—like America and our military is inherently racist, or certain races are inherently privileged, other races are inherently victimized—… they [should] report it up their chain of command or to the Inspector General or to other appropriate channels.”
“Yes, they should. They have always had the ability to do that, and I would recommend that in the future,” Austin agreed.
While Austin agreed that soldiers should report such CRT trainings to higher authorities or submit them to Cotton and Crenshaw, his remarks did not assuage concerns that the DOD under President Joe Biden is pushing CRT and cracking down on free speech in the guise of training to combat “extremism.”
On Wednesday, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG) met to strategize on combatting extremism. First Liberty Institute General Counsel Mike Berry, a former active-duty Marine Corps officer who took part in the meeting, told PJ Media that the meeting confirmed some of the fears he expressed in March.
Back in March, Berry testified that “those who would use, threaten, or advocate violence to accomplish their [political] objectives” should have no place in the ranks. Yet he also insisted, “We should reject any attempt to weaponize anti-extremism efforts against classes of people simply because those in authority disapprove of them.”
PJ Media asked Berry if “any of the discussions confirm” the fears he expressed in March.
“Yes, specifically I am concerned by the DOD’s intent to monitor service members’ social media to identify extremism,” the ex-Marine said. “Multiple groups expressed concern about whether and how DOD will balance First Amendment rights with efforts to combat extremism.”
Various training materials used for the military-wide “stand down” to combat “extremism” issued strict warnings about social media posts.
“Do not post, share, re-tweet, ‘like,’ etc. any materials that promote discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity), creed, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation; or encourage violence to prevent others from exercising their civil rights,” the Marine Corps stand-down materials advise.
Based on the Biden administration’s definition of civil rights law, this would mean any content that refers to biological males who identify as female with male pronouns, that advocates for excluding biological males from women’s sports, or that warns against the abuses of subjecting gender-confused children to chemical castration, among other things.
As election lawyer and PJ Media contributor J. Christian Adams noted, one of the training materials falsely claimed that speech “that threatens to undermine our government and Constitution is not protected by the First Amendment.”
CRT has weaseled its way into the military, pitting soldiers against one another, weakening morale, and undermining America’s ability to defend itself. Members of the military should continue to speak up, reporting these incidents to their superiors as well as to Cotton and Crenshaw.