By Abayomi Azikiwe
An exchange between the United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and several Republican Congressmen in Washington, D.C. on June 23, illustrates the level of hysteria prevalent among ruling circles as it relates to what can and cannot be taught within educational institutions including the military.
Gen. Milley was questioned about a “diversity training” program within the military which utilized reading materials to which some members of Congress strongly object.
This questioning of Milley took place within the context of attempts by the Pentagon to supposedly uncover “extremists” within its ranks who are harboring racist right-wing views. Some members of Congress are even calling for a cutback in funding to the Pentagon claiming that conservatives are being targeted and accused of racism and neo-fascism.
The top U.S. military general said in response to the questioning, that:
“I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. 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, our noncommissioned officers, of being ‘woke.’”
Of course, Gen. Milley is by no means a proponent of anti-racist education. The reasoning of the Pentagon is related to the need for some form of cohesion within the ranks of the various divisions of the military forces. Events in recent months, particularly the right-wing mob attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, could easily prefigure a split within the security apparatus of the U.S. Such divisions which undoubtedly exist between white soldiers and their counterparts from the oppressed communities, would hamper the operational capacity of the Pentagon to engage in combat internationally as well as domestically.
Among the ranks of those involved in the Capitol Hill attack on January 6 were veterans of the military. Milley also said before Congress:
“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white. And I want to understand it.”
Earlier Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who is an African American career military officer, was questioned on the same topic by conservative lawmakers. Austin disassociated the Pentagon and its training academies from what is being referred to as “critical race theory.”
Austin emphasized before Congress:
“We do not teach critical race theory. We don’t embrace critical race theory and I think that’s a spurious conversation. We are focused on extremist behaviors, and not ideology.”
These discussions are taking place across the length and breadth of the U.S. In several states, legislative bodies are debating and approving bills which ostensibly ban the teaching of “critical race theory.” In Oklahoma, the governor was asked to leave a state commission on the Tulsa Race Massacre of a century ago after he signed into law a bill which prohibits teaching about the realities of the U.S. being a racist society, born in the forced removal and genocide of Native Americans, and the centuries-long enslavement and national oppression of African Americans….