Chelsey Cox, USA Today, June 23, 2021
A top military official defended the U.S. military against GOP lawmakers use of “woke” as an insult for studying theories about race relations in America during a Wednesday House committee hearing.
“I’ve read Mao Tse-tung. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,” Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s highest ranking military officer, said. “So, what is wrong with understanding … having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military — our general officers, our commissioned and non-commissioned officers — of being, quote, ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”
Milley fired back against criticism from GOP lawmakers on the teaching of critical race theory at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The theory emerged during the 1980s and argues that subordination on the basis of race permeates American law and society.
Objections to the theory follow attempts in several Republican-led states to remove discussions about race from school lesson plans.
“I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely-read,” Milley said during the House Armed Services Committee hearing. “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,” he added.
Milley’s comments on broadening the perspectives of military personnel came during his testimony on the 2022 National Defense Authorization Budget Request. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III testified alongside the four-star general.