Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wouldn’t be the first person one would think of to deliver thoughtful remarks regarding the chatter around critical race theory. Gen. Milley addressed Congress at a hearing on Wednesday, explaining directly to Rep. Matt Gaetz that he seeks to understand “white rage” and pushed back on accusations against the military of being “woke” by members of the elected body.
Milley was in attendance of a House Armed Services Committee hearing in connection to the 2022 Defense Department budget along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Critical race theory, which examines institutional racism from an academic standpoint, has been in existent for the past few decades but has expanded into the mainstream conversation due to what appears to be an apparent attempt by conservative-leaning public officials to do away with the study of race in schools and colleges.
Rep. Gaetz lobbed questions around CRT to Austin, asking how the Defense Department will approach the theory and also its views on extremism. Austin, unsurprisingly, didn’t side with CRT but offered a measured response.
“We do not teach critical race theory. We don’t embrace critical race theory, and I think that’s a spurious conversation,” Austin said. “We are focused on extremist behaviors and not ideology, not people’s thoughts, not people’s political orientation. Behaviors [are] what we’re focused on.”
Although the hearing did uncover that Republican Party Rep. Michael Waltz of Florida introduced a letter from a superintendent of the West Point military academy showing that CRT was being taught there, Gen. Milley’s pushback over the concerns of the class being taught and somehow shifting thought has gone viral.
“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?” Milley said.
He continued with, “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.”
Milley also added, “I want to understand white rage, and I’m white, and I want to understand it. So 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.”
Critical race theory was first introduced in the 1970s and 1980 by American scholars such as Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia J. Williams, Alan Freeman, and Richard Delgado among others. It was seen as an offshoot of critical legal studies (CLS), most especially in the 1980s when CRT proponents began to produce papers and research in support.
White Rage is currently trending on Twitter and we’ve got some of the reactions after the video of the exchange below.