Jun 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Gen. Milley on critical race theory: Military needs to be "widely read"

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said during a hearing before the House Committee on Armed Services on Wednesday that is important for members of the military to understand critical race theory.

Why it matters: Milley advocated for the teaching of the theory after several House Republicans questioned whether the Department of Defense is teaching courses involving it at military academies.

What they're saying: "I do think it's important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read," Milley said.

  • "The United States Military Academy is a university. And it is important that we train and we understand. I want to understand white rage, and I'm white. And I want to understand it," he said, referring to a book by Carol Anderson assigned during a race and ethnicity course at West Point.
  • "So, 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, and I want to maintain an open mind here, and I want to analyze it," he said about the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
  • "It's important we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians, they come from the American people. So, it is important that the leaders, now and in the future, do understand it."
  • "So, what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding, about the country for which we are here to defend?"
  • "I personally find it offensive we are accusing the United States Military ... of being quote 'woke' or something else because we're studying some theories that are out there."

The big picture: Republicans have moved to ban or heavily limit the teaching of critical race theory from schools and other institutions, which civil rights advocates and some educators have criticized as an attempt to sugarcoat U.S. history.

  • After being questioned by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) if the Defense Department promotes the theory, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said it does not "teach" or "embrace" it.

Go deeper: Why everyone's talking about critical race theory

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