Milley defends teaching of critical race theory in military

Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back on accusations by Reps. Matt Gaetz and Michael Waltz that critical race theory was being taught in the military. “What is wrong ... with having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” Milley asked.

Video Transcript

CHRISSY HOULAHAN: I know my time is very precious, but I would like to yield some of my time to General Milley because I know that he had some comments that he wanted to make when Representative Gaetz was talking, as well as Mr Waltz, about a similar subject of the stand-down in race theory. Would you like a minute or so to comment on that? Do you remember what we were, what your line of questioning or your thought was there?

MARK MILLEY: Sure. First of all, on the issue of critical race theory, et cetera, a lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is. But I do think it's important actually for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. And 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. I want to maintain an open mind here, 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, do understand it.

I've read Mao Tse Tung, I've read 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? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, non-commissioned officers of being quote, woke or something else, because we're studying some theories that are out there.

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 3/4 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 in 1964. It took another 100 years to change that. So look it, I do want to know. And I respect your service, and you and I both Green Berets, but I want to know and it matters to our military and the discipline and cohesion of this military. And I thank you for the opportunity to make a comment on that.