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GOP lawmakers grill top US admiral Mike Gilday over his antiracist reading list


A top Navy admiral faced tough grilling from Republican lawmakers on his inclusion of the controversial book How To Be An Antiracist on a recommended reading list for sailors, in the latest clash over ‘wokeness’ in the military.

Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval operations, stood his ground at Tuesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, defending the book’s inclusion on the list.

Gilday added the 2019 book by Ibram X. Kendi, which is popular with proponents of critical race theory, to the Navy’s optional reading checklist in February, listing it as a ‘foundational’ work for sailors. 

Kendi’s book proposes that any system that produces different average outcomes for people of different skin colors is racist and should be destroyed, and argues that discrimination that ‘creates equity’ is antiracist and should be lauded. 

Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval operations, stood his ground at Tuesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, cited passages in Kendi's book arguing that only 'present discrimination' can make up for 'past discrimination'

Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, cited passages in Kendi’s book arguing that only ‘present discrimination’ can make up for ‘past discrimination’

Author Ibram X. Kendi proposes that any system that produces different average outcomes for people of different skin colors is racist and should be destroyed, and argues that discrimination that 'creates equity' is antiracist and should be lauded

Author Ibram X. Kendi proposes that any system that produces different average outcomes for people of different skin colors is racist and should be destroyed, and argues that discrimination that ‘creates equity’ is antiracist and should be lauded

At the hearing, which was ostensibly on the Navy’s budget, Gilday faced tough questions from Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, who cited passages in Kendi’s book arguing that only ‘present discrimination’ can make up for ‘past discrimination’.

The 2019 book is popular with proponents of critical race theory

The 2019 book is popular with proponents of critical race theory

‘How does exposing our sailors to the idea that they are either oppressors or oppressed, and that we must actively discriminate in order to make up for past discrimination, improve our Navy’s readiness and lethality?’ Lamborn asked.

‘You mentioned critical race theory — I’m not a theorist, I’m the chief of Naval operations,’ Gilday responded.

‘There is racism in the Navy just like there’s racism in our country, and the way we’re going to get after it is to be honest about it, not to sweep it under the rug, and talk about it,’ he said.

‘It doesn’t mean I have any expectation that everybody believe, or support, everything that Mr. Kendi states in his book. I don’t support everything that Kendi says. The key thing is that sailors have to be able to think critically,’ Gilday argued.  

Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, also lashed out at Gilday, contrasting his reading list choice with the Navy’s recent vow to root out any ‘extremism’ in the ranks.

‘Do you consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief?’ Banks asked, referring to Kendi’s September 2020 tweet suggesting Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a ‘white colonizer’ for adopting two Haitian children.

Gilday’s mic was off, making his response unclear, but Banks pressed on. 

‘Do you personally consider advocating for the destruction of American capitalism to be extremist?’ Banks asked, referring to Kendi’s assertion that capitalism and racism are ‘conjoined twins’ that must be eliminated together to root out racism. 

Gilday fired back: ‘I’m not forcing anybody to read the book, it’s on a recommended reading list.’

Pressed by Banks on whether he supported Kendi’s controversial views, Gilday went on: ‘I’d have to consider the context of the statement he made, I’m not going to sit here and defend cherry-picked quotes from somebody’s book.’

‘This is a bigger issue than Kendi’s book, what this is really about is trying to to paint the United States military, and the United States Navy as weak, as woke,’ Gilday said. ‘We are not weak, we are strong.’

Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, also lashed out at Gilday, contrasting his reading list choice with the Navy's recent vow to root out any 'extremism' in the ranks

Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, also lashed out at Gilday, contrasting his reading list choice with the Navy’s recent vow to root out any ‘extremism’ in the ranks

'I'm not forcing anybody to read the book, it's on a recommended reading list,' Gilday said

‘I’m not forcing anybody to read the book, it’s on a recommended reading list,’ Gilday said

Gilday insisted that the value of Kendi's book was in developing critical thinking skills, and repeatedly said he did not agree with all of the author's conclusions

Gilday insisted that the value of Kendi’s book was in developing critical thinking skills, and repeatedly said he did not agree with all of the author’s conclusions

Banks continued his line of attack, asking: ‘If sailors accept Kendi’s argument that America and the United States Navy are fundamentally racist as you’ve encouraged them to do, do you expect that to increase or decrease morale and cohesion?’ 

‘I do know this,’ Gilday responded. ‘Our strength is in our diversity, and our sailors understand that’

‘Racism in the United States is a very complex issue, what we benefit from is an open discussion about those issues,’ the admiral added.

Gilday insisted that the value of Kendi’s book was in developing critical thinking skills, and repeatedly said he did not agree with all of the author’s conclusions.

‘There will be various views, and I trust sailors will come to an understanding of hopefully separating fact from fiction, agreeing or disagreeing with Kendi in this case, and come to hopefully very useful conclusions,’ he said. 

The heated exchanges marked the latest complaints from top conservative lawmakers that the Pentagon has become too focused on ‘woke’ culture war issues, at the expense of military readiness.

Last month, Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican, slammed a ‘woke’ U.S. Army recruiting video that told the story of how a ‘little girl raised by two moms’ grew up to become a soldier. 

‘The job of the military is to kill the bad guys. And it is to strike fear in the enemies of America,’ he told Fox News as he defended his criticism on the ad, which was based on the true life story of a serving soldier.

‘People sign up to join the military because they want to keep us safe, they don’t want to sit around a circle, emoting and passing daisies back and forth.’

Sen. Ted Cruz blasted the US Army after it released a 'woke' recruitment video telling the story of Cpl. Emma Malonelord, a serving soldier who describes how she came to choose a life in the military (pictured)

Sen. Ted Cruz blasted the US Army after it released a ‘woke’ recruitment video telling the story of Cpl. Emma Malonelord, a serving soldier who describes how she came to choose a life in the military (pictured) 

The colorful, animated recruiting clip describes how she defended freedom by attending LGBTQ marches and grew up to join the U.S. Army

The colorful, animated recruiting clip describes how she defended freedom by attending LGBTQ marches and grew up to join the U.S. Army 

And last week, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas grilled Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin about Kendi’s book at a separate hearing.

Cotton and Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas have also launched a ‘whistleblower’ portal for active duty servicemembers to report ‘woke ideology’ and indoctrination imposed by superiors.

‘Enough is enough. We won’t let our military fall to woke ideology,’ Crenshaw tweeted. 

‘For too long, progressive Pentagon staffers have been calling the shots for our warfighters, and spineless military commanders have let it happen. Now we are going to expose you,’ he added. 

The campaign came weeks after ex-Space Force Commander, Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, claimed that the Pentagon had sent servicemembers a video saying that ‘whites are inherently evil’. 

Lohmeier was recently removed from his plum post after blasting diversity and inclusion training in the military as ‘critical race theory rooted in Marxism’. 

Crenshaw – a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in combat in Afghanistan, – condemned Lohmeier’s removal, stating at the time: ‘We need to be preparing our warriors to fight and win battles, not how to be (social justice warriors)’.  





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