Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended teaching so-called “Critical Race Theory” to members of the military during a congressional hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) yielded some of her time to Milley during the hearing so that the Joint Chiefs of Staff chair could respond to the GOP’s “Critical Race Theory” hysteria that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) had raised earlier in the hearing.
Milley fiercely defended the academic concept of Critical Race Theory, which is different from the caricature that conservatives have created. He argued that those in uniform should be “open-minded” as well as “widely read.”
“The United States military academy is a university,” Milley said. “And it is important that we train and understand … white rage. And I’m white, and I want to understand it.”
Milley then alluded to the deadly Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 that then-President Trump helped incite following his appearance at a “Stop the Steal Rally” when he urged a crowd of his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results on the day of the joint session of Congress certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“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?” Milley said. “I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here and I do want to analyze it.”
Milley stressed the importance for military leaders to understand Critical Race Theory academically, saying that he has read up on Mao Tse Tung, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
“That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with … having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” Milley said.
Milley added that he finds fear-mongering surrounding the theory “offensive;” fear-mongering that has been seized on by the GOP as its latest culture war.
“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers … of being, quote, ‘woke,’ because we’re studying some theories that are out there,” Milley said, prompting Gaetz to visibly shake his head.
Milley’s remarks come amid right-wing outrage over “Critical Race Theory” — an academic and legal term that conservatives have appropriated and hijacked as part of the GOP’s culture wars.
Conservatives in recent weeks have attempted to make “Critical Race Theory” a national issue as pundits and right-wing pressure groups push for state legislatures to ban the concept from being taught in public schools. They’ve also fixated on the 1619 Project — a New York Times magazine effort attempting to reframe U.S. history around the consequences of slavery and the accomplishments of Black people. During his presidency, former President Trump raised the way in which America teaches race as a flashpoint grievance for Republicans in a since-rescinded executive order.
Watch Milley’s remarks below:
Gen. Mark Milley responds to Rep. Matt Gaetz on Extremism & Critical Race Theory: "I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, non-commissioned officers of being 'woke' or something else." pic.twitter.com/P1x6vg9FUr
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 23, 2021