A top Navy officer got in a heated exchange with Rep. Jim Banks on Tuesday after being confronted about his recommendation that sailors read a book from a top author espousing critical race theory.
Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, previously released a “professional reading program” reading list that included Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist.
Banks, an Indiana Republican and chairman of the Republican Study Committee, sent a letter to Gilday in February raising his concerns about the admiral recommending Kendi’s book, which Banks argued includes “explicitly anti-American” teachings. Gilday said in response in March that he included the book because “it evokes the author’s own personal journey in understanding barriers to true inclusion” and that Navy sailors should achieve similar “self-reflection.”
That response was apparently not satisfactory for Banks, a U.S. Navy Reserve veteran, who confronted Gilday in a House Armed Services Committee meeting on Tuesday.
Banks noted that the Navy recently completed a review to root out extremism and started his line of questioning by noting some of Kendi’s extremist remarks.
Before Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in 2020, Kendi suggested that she is a “white colonizer” because she adopted children from Haiti. Kendi regularly argues that capitalism and racism are “interlinked.” And in college, he wrote that white people used the AIDS virus to fend off racial extinction.
Asked whether he had read Kendi’s book, Gilday said that he had. The book was included on the reading list, he said, “because I think it's really important to consider a variety of views.”
“This is a bigger issue than Kendi’s book. What this is really about is trying to paint the United States military, and in this case, the United States Navy as weak — as ‘woke,’” Gilday shot back at Banks.
“Admiral, I’ve met you, I respect you,” Banks said. “I remain astonished that you put this book on a reading list and recommended every sailor in the United States Navy read it. I’m also surprised you read it.”
Banks continued: “If sailors accept Kendi’s argument that America and the United States Navy are fundamentally racist, as you've encouraged them to, do you expect that to increase or decrease morale and cohesion or even recruiting in the United States Navy?”
“Our strength is in our diversity, and our sailors understand that,” Gilday said. “Racism in the United States is a very complex issue. What we benefit from is an open discussion about those issues, that we don't try to ignore it or rewrite it, but we actually have a discussion about it.”
Gilday said he trusts that sailors will “come to an understanding, hopefully separating fact from fiction, agreeing or disagreeing with Kendi, in this case, and come to, hopefully, very useful conclusions about how we ought to treat each other in the United States.”
Some House Republicans are eyeing amendments to add to the National Defense Authorization Act that seek to block “woke” political bias within the Defense Department.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks