Imagine this: Army base streets or Navy ship decks are painted with tributes to Black Lives Matter, a movement whose lead organization self-identifies as Marxist. At the Army-Navy game, players take a knee instead of saluting the flag. Military officers are denied promotions if they do not fit percentage-based sex and race quotas. And, to meet “New Woke World” expectations, some promotable officers organize book clubs for subordinates to study best-sellers like “White Fragility.”
Oh, wait — Navy Captain Hallock Mohler, Jr., has already announced a book club for Second Fleet sailors, naming Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” as its first selection. Also, A U.S. Military Academy Behavioral Science and Leadership Course titled “Politics-Race, Gender, Sexuality,” (SS392) offered to sociology majors, has a required textbook list with titles such as “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” Susan Ferguson’s “Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Class: Dimensions of Inequality and Identity,” and “A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory,” by Nikki Sullivan.
West Point did not respond to multiple requests for information about whether this course balances its presentation of this racially charged material with “critical race theory” dissenters such as Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, or Walter Williams. So, is “White Fragility” part of a fair discussion featuring numerous competing views, or is it the flagship book of an indoctrination session for an insidious new leftist ideology? So far, West Point is mum on the issue, which doesn’t suggest the answer supports the nation its cadets are supposed to defend and which funds their careers.
As commentator Ben Shapiro has explained, critical race theory indoctrination claims that all institutions are racist. Non-white participants must confess their “white privilege,” and if a person denies he is racist, that denial is taken as proof that he is in fact a racist.
Toxic “anti-racist” ideology nurtures division and resentment by politicizing immutable, skin-deep characteristics. It is difficult to imagine a more demoralizing course of instruction for officers who will soon lead soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines into combat. Unresolved accusations and suspicions of racism eviscerate mutual trust and team cohesion, two things essential for survival and mission accomplishment.
Fortunately, the Trump administration is confronting this ideology. Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, recently issued a memorandum directing all executive departments and agencies to eliminate critical race theory programs that promote “divisive, anti-American propaganda.”
President Trump followed suit with an executive order denying federal funds for critical race theory training contractors. Nowhere are these changes needed more than in the Department of Defense, where patriotism and mutual respect in the ranks are essential in maintaining its all-volunteer force.
“Diversity” used to be a positive word describing the positive result of non-discrimination and recognition of individual merit. While the primary purpose of President Harry Truman’s 1948 executive order ending racial segregation was not equal opportunity per se but a military necessity in the Korean War era, the armed forces have since aspired to uphold these values.
In 2011, however, the Department of Defense began shifting away from principles of non-discrimination and recognition of individual merit. The Pentagon’s 2011 Military Leadership Diversity Commission, largely composed of diversity “experts” and academics, issued a voluminous report that re-defined “diversity” to mean racial and sexual quotas and group rights, not individual rights and meritocracy.
The MLDC report admitted the concept would be difficult for advocates of color and sex “blindness” to grasp: “Successful implementation of diversity initiatives requires a deliberate strategy that ties the new diversity vision to desired outcomes via policies and metrics … This is not about treating everyone the same.”
The House version of the pending National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 would codify this MLDC agenda. Among other things, the legislation would establish high-level “Chief Diversity Officers” empowered to approve promotions only for officer candidates who embrace critical race theory indoctrination and fit the desired race, sex, and sexual characteristics.
The House defense bill also would establish a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council of the Department of Defense. This panel, or a similar Pentagon committee that Defense Secretary Mark Esper plans to establish in December, likely would push for the critical race theory agenda, demonstrations and indoctrination at military bases, and swift removal of “racist” monuments and symbols.
The Defense Department does not need a permanent in-house pressure group for extreme racial agendas. Once a Diversity and Inclusion power base is planted in the Pentagon, like the voracious man-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors,” who can resist? Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, charged to deal with the real virus, was ordered to cancel a 13-week online critical race theory course it scheduled in defiance of the OMB’s memo.
The New York Times’s “1619 Project,” a prime example of “woke” indoctrination, is taking hold in schools nationwide. The curriculum claims that the birth of America occurred not in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence, but in 1619, when the first ships bearing slaves arrived on the shores of the New World.
Historically questionable anti-racist programs and books relentlessly criticize white privilege, insisting that all American institutions, laws, and history are inherently racist and therefore must be destroyed. Consider a display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which included and later removed a graphic describing “white dominant culture.” Fourteen categories of “whiteness” included history, religion, family structure, and justice, hard work, self-reliance, respect for authority, and the nuclear family.
At the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, troops received an Army “Operation Inclusion” handout displaying a pyramid-shaped graph listing examples of socially unacceptable “Covert White Supremacy.” That category included color blindness, denial of racism, and support for “efficiency” and “meritocracy.” These “unacceptable” qualities, which have nothing to do with race, are important in Western Civilization and especially so in the military, which depends on patriotism and a willingness to defend America.
On June 29, a group of recent U.S. military academy alumni signed a 40-page manifesto demanding that West Point make critical race theory-style “anti-racism” the central feature of the curriculum. Action items included statements from all-white academy leaders “acknowledging how their white privilege sustains systems of racism,” and “an independent anti-racism advisory committee composed of subject matter experts on racism.”
The superintendent is investigating alleged incidents of discrimination, but toxic critical race theory indoctrination has no place in military training, colleges, or service academies. The Trump administration should vigorously enforce prohibitions on government critical race theory programs and reject ideological power bases in the Pentagon. Such actions would reinforce sound principles that strengthen our military, not weaken it.