Already today I’ve seen a photo of the Pope meeting Spider-Man and a trailer for a new Netflix dating show in which everyone is dressed as furries, yet this surprisingly accurate headline somehow tops them both for sheer surreal weirdness:
Mark Milley and Lloyd Austin were on the Hill today to testify before a House committee. Matt Gaetz wanted to talk about the issue of the moment in righty circles, the extent to which Critical Race Theory might be guiding public institutions. That point also folds into a recurring theme on Tucker Carlson’s show, whether the U.S. military has gone “woke” by the White House making race a consideration in choosing top officials and moving to oust troops who have displayed racist views. Gaetz pressed Austin on that today, questioning whether the stand-downs he ordered this spring to assess extremism in the ranks were hurting unit cohesion and then challenging him in this contentious exchange:
Sec. Lloyd Austin: "For you to say that people are telling me what I want to hear. I get it, but I'm smart enough to know…"
Rep. Matt Gaetz: "That does happen."
Sec. Austin: "Yeah, you know, maybe they're telling you what you want to hear." pic.twitter.com/rdCrgHDDLw
— The Hill (@thehill) June 23, 2021
“We do not teach Critical Race Theory,” Austin said, per Task & Purpose. “We don’t embrace Critical Race Theory and I think that’s a spurious conversation.” Well, I don’t know — apparently Ibram Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist” is on a voluntary Navy reading list for sailors. The department may not be teaching it but recommending Kendi could be seen as an embrace.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley wanted to comment on CRT after Gaetz brought it up but didn’t get a chance. Eventually another rep circled back to it, giving him the opportunity to uncork this:
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
Some righties are mad at him this afternoon for opining on the topic, which is beyond his purview of national defense, but Gaetz brought it up. So did Rep. Mike Waltz, a veteran himself, who claimed back in April that cadets at West Point had been given a lecture =entitled “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.” That explains Milley’s use of the term in the clip, I take it — Waltz had mentioned it during questioning and so Milley was addressing his point.
But it sure is interesting that Milley would tie “white rage” to the January 6 insurrection, which I assume Waltz didn’t do. “This general thinks that studying CRT will help him understand 1/6. That’s a revealing remark,” tweeted Andrew Sullivan. It is.
It’s also revealing how Milley pivots from CRT to a brief tour through American history, from slavery to the Civil War to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “What is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” he asks. A core point made by opponents of Critical Race Theory, though, is that it’s not essential to understanding U.S. history. If anything, it distorts history by reducing it to a series of power struggles between racial blocs. You can teach slavery and the civil-rights movement, they insist, without bundling CRT’s dogma about “whiteness” and structural racism into it.
The upshot of Milley’s answer is that, well, maybe you can’t. Not to adults, anyway. If you want to understand an important perspective on American history maybe you should read CRT, even if you end up agreeing with it no more than you agree with Marx. Which is fine, but as Ben Shapiro says, Marx isn’t on the military’s recommended reading list. (I think.) Kendi is. How come?