Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said America’s troops are being indoctrinated with the lie that “the entire U.S. army is racist’” and that the country they represent is “a fundamentally racist and evil nation.”
“I have received, along with Congressman Crenshaw, several hundred whistleblower complaints about Pentagon extremist and diversity training,” Cotton said Thursday during a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing.
Cotton reported these trainings are leading to “plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations.”
“These are not my words,” Cotton emphasized, “These are the words of your own troops.”
Cotton said officers are leaving their positions, in response to the indoctrination: “One marine told us that […] a 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.”
He continued to provide additional examples of military-promoted racism:
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 worldview.” A member of the special operations community has told us that they are being instructed that, quote, “the U.S. special operations community is racist.”
Such stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Cotton told the story of one Airman who said his unit was forced to participate in “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.’”
Troops are increasingly being judged and dehumanized by their immutable characteristics, rather than be celebrated for the skills they bring to the job. Cotton shared a quote from an African American officer who said, “The navy thinks my only value is as a black woman,” and “not the fact that she is a highly trained military specialist,” he added.
In response to these complaints, Cotton questioned U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “Mr. Secretary, do you believe that our military is a fundamentally racist organization?” Cotton asked.
Austin initially gave a weak response, before conceding that the military isn’t fundamentally racist: “Well I won’t give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer on that, sir, because it deserves more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The military, like any organization, will have its challenges, but I do not believe it is a fundamentally racist organization.”
When asked whether “any member of the military should be treated differently based on their skin color and sex,” Austin repeated his former statement. “Again, this question deserves more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer,” he argued.
Cotton repeated his question, at which point the confused Austin appeared to change his mind.
“It is a very simple question. Should a member of the organization you lead be treated differently, in violation of the Constitution I would add, based on their sex or the color of their skin?” Cotton asked.
“No, I do not believe that,” Austin responded, “and that is […] why we have diversity, equity, and inclusion focus in the military.”
Cotton reminded Austin that “the military, for decades, has been one of the institutions in […] society where you are most likely to get ahead based on your own performance and your own merit, irrespective of the color of your skin or where you came from or who your parents were.”
Austin seemingly agreed. Both men view the military as a forum for diverse peoples to thrive. However, Cotton emphasized that the reports about racist, “anti-American” indoctrination currently coming from hundreds of whistleblowers are in direct conflict with this vision. And he submitted a longer list of whistleblower complaints for review.
Cotton later tweeted that “There is no place for toxic critical race theory in our military.”
There is no place for toxic critical race theory in our military.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 11, 2021