Gen. Milley deserves no applause for his defense of critical race theory

Out of line.


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley got way out of line Wednesday, scolding members of Congress while defending the inclusion of ultra-progressive racialist literature in military curricula.

The moment, which took place during a congressional hearing, occurred after Republican lawmakers pressed the general on the extent to which members of the military are exposed to critical race theory. Republican Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, a National Guard colonel and former Green Beret, asked specifically whether West Point cadets were really asked to attend a seminar on “white rage.”

Milley responded with an answer that was as self-righteous as it was emotional. Neither is appropriate for a man in his position.

“A lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is,” the nation’s highest-ranking military officer said. “But I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read.”

He added, “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, 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.”

That Milley apparently believes critical race theory will help him better understand the events of Jan. 6 is ridiculous — and revealing in its own right. Also, depending on how you interpret his remarks, Milley comes awfully close to endorsing the establishment of a Jan. 6 commission, which, if this was indeed his intent, is extremely inappropriate. It’s not the general’s place to voice support for any form of legislation.

“I want to maintain an open mind here,” he continued, “and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and guardians, they come from the American people. So it is important that the leaders, now and in the future, understand it.”

The general added, “I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read ― I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin ― that doesn’t make me a communist.”

This, by the way, is what we call a motte-and-bailey. He is conflating a defensible position (i.e., studying the political ideologies that drive hostile foreign nations) with one that is much less defensible (i.e., teaching young cadets a poisonous pedagogy that treats as a hard fact the idea that there is something inherently wrong with “white” people, who, incidentally, make up most of the U.S. military). There’s a huge difference between understanding communism versus asking West Point cadets to attend seminars on “white rage.”

“So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” Milley asked. “And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, general officers, commissioned and noncommissioned officers, of being quote ‘woke,’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”

He concluded:

That was started at Harvard Law School, years ago. And it proposed that there were laws in the United States, antebellum laws prior to the Civil War, that led to a power differential with African-Americans, that were three-quarters of a human being, when this country was formed.

And then we had a Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation to change it. And we brought it up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and it took another hundred years [of segregation] to change that. So look, I do want to know, and I respect your service ― and you and I are both Green Berets ― but I want to know.

And it matters to our military and the discipline, the cohesion of this military, and I thank you for the opportunity to make a comment on that.

In other words, Milley is parroting the nonsense left-wing talking point that says critical race theory, which teaches the U.S. is best understood when its viewed through the prism of racial identity politics and that “white” as an identity is inherently negative, is simply about learning the history of racism in the U.S.

Unsurprisingly, academics, journalists, and left-wing activists, many of whom spent the past four years fretting about our norms, proper civil order, and the radicalization of the U.S. military, are cheering Milley’s performance. Georgetown professor Don Moynihan, for example, described the general’s response as a “perfectly reasonable and nuanced perspective that will no doubt lead to more ‘woke military’ meltdowns.” The New York Timess Maggie Haberman characterized Milley’s performance as an “impassioned argument.”

Democratic Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois said simply, “Well done, Gen. Milley.”

The Military Times reported the moment in a headline that reads: “The military’s top officer schools congressmen on critical race theory, ‘white rage’ and communism.”

That is not a headline anyone should want to see. The incident that made that headline possible deserves to be condemned, the man at the center of it either sanctioned or removed from his post. Congress has oversight of the military. The general answers to those lawmakers. It is neither commendable nor inspiring if a member of the military takes it upon himself to “school” lawmakers tasked with oversight of the armed forces, let alone to do it with such ignorant talking points.

And if you find yourself cheering what Milley did because he has the same politics as you, you are a bad American. In a sane world, the people applauding the general would be calling for his resignation for having strayed so far out of his lane. It’s one thing for Milley to say he wants, personally, to understand critical race theory. It’s another thing entirely for him to berate lawmakers merely for questioning whether members of the military are being indoctrinated with a philosophy that advocates self-hatred, hatred for their own country, and racial enmity.

If U.S. Navy Admiral Robert F. Willard (retired) could sit through Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson’s idiotic questions about Guam capsizing, politely answering even the dumbest of queries, then Milley can surely summon professional, nonhostile responses to lawmakers’ legitimate questions about whether the military brass is pushing toxic racialist nonsense on West Point cadets.

And if Milley cannot manage to stay in his lane while answering to the people who have oversight over the U.S. military, then perhaps it’s time he finds a new line of work.