General Mark Milley said he wanted to understand what caused people to storm Capitol Hill on January 6.
Critical race theory has become a hot topic of discussion across America with conservatives and Republicans arguing that it is divisive. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley calmly defended the study of the critical race theory in the military and told Republicans, “I want to understand White rage – and I’m White.” The critical race theory is the study of America's history through the lens of racism. The late Harvard professor Derrick Bell is credited with establishing critical race theory. It states that American institutions inherently create economic, political, and social inequities between White people and people of color. Critical race theory emerged in law schools in the 1970s and ’80s as a response to mainstream classes on civil rights law, which claimed that racial discrimination could be negated by enacting legal reforms.
General Mark Milley was questioned about the military studying critical race theory before the House armed services committee. Republicans, who have been vocal against the critical race theory, accused the military of being "woke" and claimed that studying or accepting the topic would weaken the military's mission. General Milley calmly explained to the room of Republicans that there was nothing wrong in studying theories. “I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military … of being ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there,” said Milley, before adding that service members should be open-minded and widely read. Milley was also accompanied by the defense secretary, Lloyd Austin. "The United States Military Academy is a university, and it is important that we train and we understand ... and I want to understand White rage. And I'm White," said Milley, reported USA Today.
Michael Waltz, a Republican representative from Florida, said he was concerned critical race theory was being included on a syllabus at West Point. “This came to me from cadets, from families, from soldiers with their alarm and their concern at how divisive this type of teaching is that is rooted in Marxism, that classifies people along class lines, an entire race of people as oppressor and oppressed,” said Waltz.
"We do not teach critical race theory, we don't embrace critical theory and I think that is a spurious conversation," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Matt Gaetz, reported NBC News. "And so we are focused on extremism behaviors and not ideology, not people's thoughts, not people's political orientations." Gaetz could be seen shaking his head, and added that he had heard it was being taught in the military. "Thanks for your anecdotal input, but I would say I've gotten 10 times that amount of input, 50 times the amount of input on the other side that has said, 'We are glad to have had a conversation with ourselves and our leadership,'" said Austin.
Tucker Carlson not only goes after our highest ranking military officer, but he also tells General Milley to study white supremacy, not ironically.— VoteVets (@votevets) June 25, 2021
"Hard to believe that man wears a uniform... He’s not just a pig, he's stupid!" -@TuckerCarlson pic.twitter.com/phK6VLqjMq
Milley defended reading about the theory, stating that it was important to gain an understanding of various ideologies and concepts. “I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” Mark Milley asked the committee. He added that it was important for the members of the military to openly discuss political theories and issues to understand the recent violent events in the US, and to prevent an environment of anti-extremism in the military. Milley pointed to the insurrection and stated that he wanted to analyze and understand what triggered thousands of people to storm the US Capitol on January 6 and “try to overturn the constitution of the United States of America”. He added, "What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it."
Republicans have rallied against critical race theory, and used it as a tool to propose legislation to limit the teaching of race and systemic oppression in classrooms, on the claims that it is divisive. Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas sought to ban critical race theory being taught in public schools, despite there being no evidence of it being taught below the college level in the first place.