The U.S. Air Force Academy acknowledged Thursday including “some elements” of critical race theory in a course but insisted that the doctrine is not endorsed by the federal military institution.
The academy weighed in after associate professor Lynne Chandler Garcia said in an op-ed that she teaches “critical race theories” to cadets, even though Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last month that the theory is not being taught in the military.
“As an academic institution and an accredited university, cadets are encouraged to engage in critical thinking and discourse, which may drive some classroom discussion on tenets of critical race theory,” said the academy in a statement to The Washington Times.
“The U.S. Air Force Academy supports an instructor’s responsibility to challenge students and to do so in an environment of academic freedom,” the statement said. “While some elements from CRT canon are included in the course to encourage critical thinking, it is not a theory endorsed by the institution as institutional doctrine.”
The course is Political Science 211, “Politics, American Government, and National Security,” according to the academy.
Ms. Garcia’s Tuesday op-ed met with pushback from Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, who called for the professor’s removal in a letter to acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth.
The congressman, a West Point graduate and two-decade Army veteran, said that her “full-throttled attack on our country and her support for Critical Race Theory render her unqualified to teach in one of our prestigious military academies.”
“If we allow this destructive ideology to be taught in our Military Service Academies, we will be responsible for this nation’s demise,” Mr. Green said in a Thursday statement. “Professor García must be removed from her teaching position.”
Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, whose district includes the Colorado Springs-based academy, called critical race theory “an anti-American ideology rooted in Marxism,” adding that the professor’s comments were in “direct violation of the clearly expressed intent of the Secretary of Defense.”
At a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Mr. Austin insisted that critical race theory is not being taught in the military.
“We do not teach critical race theory,” Mr. Austin said at the June 23 hearing on the defense budget. “We don’t embrace critical race theory and I think that’s a spurious conversation.”
Ms. Garcia, a political science professor, said in her Tuesday op-ed that “I teach critical race theories to our nation’s future military leaders because it is vital that cadets understand the history of the racism that has shaped both foreign and domestic policy.”
In her classes, she said, “We embrace our democratic system of government,” but “we also acknowledge that the United States was founded on a duality: liberalism and equal rights on the one hand; inequality, inegalitarianism and second-class citizenship on the other.”
“Critical race theory provides an academic framework to understand these nuances and contradictions,” she said in the Washington Post. “It helps students identify the structural racism and inequality that has been endemic in American society.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said he planned to discuss the matter with Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the academy’s superintendent.
“We should not be teaching and indoctrinating our cadets to believe that our military is a fundamentally racist institution,” said Mr. Cotton on Fox News. “Who exactly is going to raise their hand and take an oath to defend our Constitution if you believe what Professor Garcia is teaching about it?”
Ms. Garcia, a former Army military analyst, “teaches classes in the fields of American Politics and Foreign Policy,” according to her online biography.