Bombshell allegations are coming from members of the military suggesting that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be responsible for the degradation of the most powerful military on earth if he doesn’t change course immediately. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) recently fired up a site for whistleblowers to describe military training and activities based on critical theories and they have already received hundreds of reports.
During an Armed Services Committee hearing, Cotton shared some of what military members submitted. From my colleague Tyler O’Neil:
“One Marine told us that military history training session was replaced with mandatory training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism. He reported that several officers are now leaving his unit citing that training,” the senator reported.
“Another servicemember told us that their unit was required to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo which claims, and this is a quote, ‘white people raised in Western society are
Austin should note that the military is a government employer. All of the training cited by Cotton is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all associated regulations through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Pentagon is certainly not exempt from these statutes and regulations and should cease this type of activity immediately on that basis alone.
Some of these exercises require compelled speech—at least one activity forces recruits to segregate by race and gender for a “privilege walk.” That may violate First Amendment case law. That Cotton described unexpected separations and retirements among soldiers being forced to participate in these activities aimed at “rooting out extremism” is a serious concern.
Austin has one job. Every action he takes should have the singular focus of ensuring that the United States military is the most capable, advanced fighting force in the world, capable of defending the interests of America and our allies when required. That’s it. At the end of Cotton’s questions, Austin still insisted that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) were fundamental to this mission when nothing could be further from the truth.
DEI is the opposite of a system of meritocracy, which, by necessity, the military must enforce. America needs the best person for every job in the military, not a system that makes a flight squadron reflect the population of America on a percentage basis. If that turns out to be the makeup of the group, great. If not, it should be because the most capable pilots, navigators, mechanics, and other staff are on the team regardless of what they look like.
All disparate outcomes between groups are prima facie evidence of discrimination, according to the theories DEI programs are based on. This approach represents the laziest thinking possible for large organizations full of people with different backgrounds, education, and experience. Equity, defined as equal outcomes, is the polar opposite of meritocracy.
Cotton cited works from critical theorists Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo as being required reading for members of the military who reported to their site. Critical theories demand the institutions of the United States, and the West more generally, be reformed or completely reconstituted. The constant cynical criticism is like a solvent to institutions that need to be cohesive. Critical theory is inherently political. Critical theories of all stripes are reconstitutions of Marxist philosophy using identity rather than class.
Austin might learn something from a group of tech industry CEOs. Several high-profile CEOs—Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Jason Fried of Basecamp, Shopify’s Tobias Lütke, and Medium’s Ev Williams—are leading a movement in the private sector called “Mission Protocol.” It encourages companies to put aside activities and conversations outside the scope of their professional mission. It involves four basic principles that should apply to any effective organization:
Mission focus is required to achieve difficult goals: It’s hard to build something sustainable and truly excellent if the project is frequently distracted by issues or events peripheral to the mission.
Mission focus produces social good: Working in a single direction on a strong, well-considered mission is the best way to make a socially positive impact.
Mission focus is not apolitical or neutral: Missions can and should take a firm political stance, but only when furthering the specific goals of the project and not those outside its stated scope.
Mission focus creates a safe and inclusive project environment: Collaboration and trust occur best when project members come together under and share a common mission.
Coinbase may have a view on policy related to regulating cryptocurrency and all the companies may have positions on internet regulation—issues that directly relate to the missions of their companies. But they are suggesting they will not comment on issues like election law, transgender athletes in sports, or climate change because they fall outside the purview of their organizations.
By definition, the military should be apolitical in a functioning democracy. Diving headfirst into anti-American racial essentialism is not how that stance is maintained. Competent military leaders and all Americans should question Austin’s competence for pushing ideas and content meant to divide people by immutable characteristics and driving racial and gender essentialism. Despite saying he is an example of the military’s colorblind meritocracy in response to questioning by Cotton, Austin seems willing to erode those pillars in the armed forces he is leading.
The leaders of Mission Protocol also note:
Projects and organizations are full of diverse opinions, individuals, and areas of engagement. However, what brings everyone together is the pursuit of a goal that is bigger than any single individual. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
We know that we can only reach our potential and fulfill our mission if we focus on the task at hand.
Secretary Austin’s task is to manage the branches of the armed forces to ensure America is prepared for any challenge the Chinese Communist Party, Vladimir Putin, or the mullahs in Iran throw our way. This mission requires a military that believes America is a country worth defending and soldiers who know they can rely on one another to execute whatever task they are assigned. This ridiculous farce of rooting out “extremism” in the military using critical theory is in direct opposition to building the capable, formidable, and functional and military that Americans fund and rely on to protect them. It needs to stop immediately.
WATCH Senator Cotton question Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: