When President Harry Truman ordered the desegregation of the military in 1948, he invoked the United States’ commitment to “equality of treatment and opportunity for all” as his reason for doing so.
Unfortunately, more than 70 years after Truman’s executive order, racist and un-American ideas of unequal treatment are creeping back into the Armed Forces under the guise of so-called critical race theory.
Critical race theory repudiates the principle of equality under the law that is articulated in the Declaration of Independence and that has motivated civil-rights reformers for generations. It claims that this American ideal is a sham used by the white majority to oppress racial minorities, and consequently that America is racist to its core. The theory concludes that the only way to end perceived discrimination against racial minorities is to systematically discriminate on their behalf — to fight fire with fire, so to speak. As Ibram X. Kendi, a leading agitator for critical race theory, wrote, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
Kendi’s belief in unequal treatment and discrimination has been embraced in fashionable left-wing circles. Increasingly, this ideology is institutionalized in corporate America, higher education, and other elite sectors in the form of “implicit bias training” and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” offices. Sadly, now these racist ideas are even being taught to our troops.
Last month, the Navy released a recommended reading list to facilitate the “growth and development” of sailors. One of the books on this list is How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi’s bestseller advocating critical race theory. Separately, the Navy’s Second Fleet created a book club for sailors to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, a book that claims white people are inherently racist, whether consciously or subconsciously, and that race is the insidious subtext for virtually all human interactions.
By promoting critical race theory, the military is peddling ideological poison that will degrade the cohesion and combat effectiveness of its troops. As I learned during my tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting alongside courageous soldiers of every race and background, the military’s strength is not its “diversity” but its ability to weather adversity through unity. We need to teach our young troops, as I was taught by sergeants and officers of many different races, to befriend, fight alongside, and, if necessary, die for their comrades on the battlefield — not to obsess about skin color. Likewise, we need to teach them to revere the Constitution that they swore to protect and defend — not to believe it’s part of a multigenerational racist conspiracy.
Our troops face great hardships alongside their battle buddies and learn quickly to set aside their differences and focus on the common mission. These shared experiences forge unusually powerful bonds between men and women of all different backgrounds, bonds that are rare in the civilian world. We shouldn’t sacrifice those bonds for left-wing academic fads.
Americans who believe in the historic ideal of equal treatment for people of all races must therefore fight back against the Left’s effort to indoctrinate our troops and turn the military into yet another glorified college campus. That’s why last week I introduced a bill to combat critical race theory in the military and schools controlled by the military, such as service academies.
My bill would prevent the military from promoting the racist and anti-American theories at the heart of critical race theory in official settings, such as reading lists and diversity trainings. It would bar the military from hiring “diversity, equity, and inclusion” consultants to teach critical race theory. Finally, my bill would prohibit the military from segregating individuals on the basis of race under any circumstance.
Critics of this bill may whine that it is an assault on freedom of expression. But the military is not a college or some woke corporation; it’s the most fundamental institution of any society, with a most vital mission: to defend in combat the Constitution and our way of life from enemies who would destroy and subjugate us. Reductive, far-left theories of race are a mortal threat to this mission. Our military must root them out and reaffirm the ideals of “equality of treatment and opportunity for all” that make it a just and effective fighting force.