Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a blistering response Wednesday to criticism by Republican lawmakers that the military’s efforts to reduce racism have made it too “woke.”
Testifying alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Milley was challenged by Florida GOP Reps. Michael Waltz and Matt Gaetz, who asked about reports that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point taught critical race theory along with a seminar on “white rage.”
Milley said studying uncomfortable subjects is vital to understanding the country, and that good leaders should understand a range of views.
“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white… What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? … I want to find that out.”
— Gen. Mark Milley
“I’ve read Mao Tse Tung. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist,” Milley said. “So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?”
“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military … of being ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there,” he continued.
Critical race theory posits that racism is a social construct and affects minorities at an institutional level, rather than simply the product of individual biases.