Matt Gaetz was among GOP lawmakers who tried to take the military to task yesterday because they believe it’s become too “woke”. The military chiefs they quizzed were having none of it.
The DC lawmakers were questioning Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.
Why do they think the military is turning “woke”? Partly because an army recruitment advert recently featured a cadet from a same-sex parent family. Others have questioned a book on critical race theory being added to a recommended reading list for military cadets.
Gaetz (R-FL) also said that several unnamed service members had told him a military-wide “stand-down” – to address extremism in the ranks – had “impaired group cohesion.”
Gaetz also claimed that Lloyd Austin’s senior adviser for human capital, diversity, equity and inclusion, Bishop Garrison, was a “critical race theorist.”
“Could you enlighten us as to what advice Mr. Garrison has given you and are you concerned that while you testified publicly to our committee that the department doesn’t embrace critical race theory, you have hired someone who is precisely a critical race theorist?” asked Gaetz.
This received short shrift from Austin, who replied, “This is the first I’d ever heard Mr. Garrison being described as a critical race theorist, so this is new.”
Fellow Florida Rep. Michael Waltz, then asked about cadets at the elite military academy West Point being taught about critical race theory in class. He thought such teaching would be “divisive.”
General Milley eloquently tackled this point and the wider issues raised, to Gaetz’s obvious disgust. C-SPAN caught Gaetz sneering and shaking his head at Milley’s considered response.
Strong reaction from Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley on the issue of critical race theory before House Armed Services.
“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our noncommisioned officers of being quote ‘woke'” pic.twitter.com/otWBw3YdPK
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) June 23, 2021
Critical race theory has been talked about for the last 40 years in academic circles but has only more recently entered mainstream debate. It explores the idea that racism and patterns of discrimination in the US have shaped its society, legal systems and institutions.
General Milley said it was important to teach cadets critical thinking skills. He said simply adding a book to a reading list did not mean every view within that book was supported by the military.
“I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin,” said Milley. “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?” Milley continued.
“And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, noncommissioned officers of being, quote, ‘woke’ or something else, because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”
“I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read … and it is important that we train and we understand.”
Milley went on to say he wanted to understand “white rage” and how it might have impacted events on January 6.
“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white.
“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? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it. … It is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it.”
Milley’s seemingly impromptu and impassioned speech earned plenty of comment on social media, as did Gaetz’s response.
It will never not be obscene to watch Matt Gaetz sitting in a Congressional Committee questioning people who are all better humans than he is.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) June 23, 2021
Look at Matt Gaetz’s face in that clip. He knew General Milley was destroying the entire narrative his party is betting all their chips on.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) June 23, 2021
matt gaetz’s face in this is amazing, but i’m also just kinda stunned that the most passionate and erudite defense of CRT i’ve seen from anyone in gov is coming from the chairman of the joint chiefs https://t.co/g885z2qBWO
— David Mack (@davidmackau) June 23, 2021
WOW. Given a chance to respond to Qs from GOP HASC members Reps. Matt Gaetz and Michael Waltz (both of Fla.), CJCS Gen. Milley delivers what I can only call an impassioned defense of intellectual open-openmindedness and the importance of understanding other points of view.
— Andrew Clevenger (@andclev) June 23, 2021
Someone tell me why Matt Gaetz gets to grill the FBI Director, Defense Secretary and General Milley when he himself is under FBI investigation and awaits indictment for sex trafficking
— Lindy Li (@lindyli) June 23, 2021
Watch Matt Gaetz get destroyed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Please share widely. pic.twitter.com/LW5124rTyp
— ReallyAmerican.com 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) June 23, 2021
Never bring a Matt Gaetz to a General Milley fight.
— Chris Hahn (@ChristopherHahn) June 23, 2021
General Milley take Matt Gaetz to school with a passionate, full throated, fearless defense of teaching Critical Race Theory. I haven’t always been a fan of Gen. Milley, but I tip my hat to him today. https://t.co/HJ25814iix
— Duty To Warn 🔉 (@duty2warn) June 23, 2021
You can watch the fuller exchange below.