Top US military leader on critical race theory: ‘I want to understand white rage. And I’m white.’

Top US military leader on critical race theory: ‘I want to understand white rage. And I’m white.’

06/23/2021

Washington: The top US Army General Mark Milley admonished lawmakers over questions about critical race theory at a hearing, saying it is important for leaders to be well-versed in many schools of thought.

“I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,” Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).

“So what is wrong with understanding . . . the country which we are here to defend?”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley defends the military from accusations that it’s “woke”. Credit:AP

“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned and noncommissioned officers, of being, ‘woke’ or something else, because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”

Representative Mike Waltz, a Republican, criticised reports that the US Military Academy at West Point teaches a course involving the theory, which broadly explores the idea that racism reaches beyond individual prejudice and affects minorities at the institutional level, particularly in criminal justice.

The course at the academy includes phrases such as “white rage,” Waltz claimed, and he pressed Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, the nation’s first black Pentagon chief, to investigate further.

Soon after, when the committee gave Milley a chance to expand, he launched into an impassioned defence of inquiry about US society and its racial dynamics. He emphasised that the U.S. Military Academy is a university.

“I want to understand white rage. And I’m white,” Milley said, focused on learning more about the mostly white, mostly male mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.

“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?” Milley asked. “I want to find that out.”

Milley said he was offended that critics, among them GOP lawmakers and right-wing commentators like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have accused the military of being “woke or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”

Republicans for months have raked military and Pentagon leaders over policy and personnel changes, such as relaxing hair restrictions for women and reversing bans on open transgender service, as distractions fuelled by a liberal agenda.

Critical race theory maintains that racism is ingrained in US law and institutions and that legacies of slavery and segregation have created an uneven playing field for black Americans.

Fuelled by right-wing media, controversy surrounding the once-obscure theory has mushroomed into a national debate over how – and which version of – US history is taught in schools.

“This came to me from cadets, from families, from soldiers, with their alarm, with their concern, about how divisive this teaching is,” Waltz said, adding it was rooted in Marxism.

Washington Post, Reuters

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