The books teach young sailors that they’re being asked to fight and possibly die for “a systemically racist country,” the lawmakers say.
The books—“How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi; “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander; and “Sexual Minorities and Politics” by Jason Pierceson—are listed as part of the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program.
All Navy personnel pledge to defend the Constitution, yet these books portray America as fundamentally bigoted, Reps. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., write to Adm. Michael M. Gilday, who is chief of naval operations.
In the letter, dated March 11, Lamborn and Hartzler, both members of the House Armed Services Committee, write:
We can seek to improve upon the promise of the Declaration of Independence without teaching our young men and women in uniform that the country they defend is fundamentally racist and bigoted and that the only cure to this corporate deficiency is modern day discrimination.
The letter says they object to the three books on the admiral’s reading list for sailors because they promote the view that the United States is a “confederation of identity categories … rather than a common homeland of individual citizens.”
“These works fall under the rubric of critical race theory, a racial form of marxist philosophy which should not be allowed to poison our military,” the letter adds.
Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval operations, told The Daily Signal in an email that the Navy appreciates the two lawmakers’ concerns.
“The Navy has received the letter from Reps. Lamborn and Hartzler, and the chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, will respond directly to them,” Christensen wrote. “We appreciate the representatives’ concerns regarding this issue.”
Fox News reported Tuesday that Gilday did respond to an earlier letter from Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., that asked him to remove only the Kendi book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” from the reading list.
“While I do not endorse every viewpoint of the books on this reading list, I believe exposure to varied ideas improves the critical thinking skills of our sailors,” Gilday wrote to Banks in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News. “My commitment to them is to continue to listen, make sure their voice is heard, and make the Navy a shining example of an organization centered on respect, inclusive of all.”
Gilday, referring only to the Kendi book, said it “evokes the author’s own personal journey in understanding barriers to true inclusion, the deep nuances of racism and racial inequalities.”
The admiral also said that he wants the Navy’s sailors to achieve the same level of “self-reflection.”
In their letter, Hartzler and Lamborn ask Gilday to pull the three books from the reading list; verify the books aren’t being promoted to Navy personnel; “confirm that it is not the Navy’s official position that America is a systemically racist country”; and confirm the Navy’s opposition to race-based discrimination.
“Why would we expect our nation’s young men and women to join the Navy to fight, and possibly die, on behalf of a systemically racist country?” Hartzler and Lamborn ask the admiral. “Why should they, if the books you have recommended are taken to heart?”
Not every viewpoint in the books on the reading list is endorsed by the chief of naval operation or the Navy, but exposure to varied viewpoints improves sailors’ critical thinking skills, according to one senior Navy official.
The two House members note in their letter to Gilday that Kendi’s book argues that “the entire American system is corrupted from top to bottom by racial prejudices which account for all the differences in outcomes in our society.”
Their letter includes this quote from Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist”:
The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.
The letter also quotes Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” as saying that increased crime in the 1970s was “an opening to turn back the progress on racial progress in the United States.”
The two lawmakers assess Pierceson’s “Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” as taking a side in debates that are not scientifically settled.
One example: “whether biological men should be able to use the same bathroom as women and girls, and whether they should be able to compete in women’s sports, shattering female records and receiving scholarships instead of women.”
Gilday, 58, a four-star admiral and chief of naval operations since August 2019, was nominated for the post by then-President Donald Trump. He is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
Federal law requires the position to be held by an admiral who is a military adviser and deputy to the secretary of the Navy as well as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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