Stunned Republicans demanded answers Wednesday after a professor declared that she teaches critical race theory at the U.S. Air Force Academy, directly contradicting recent congressional testimony from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn, whose district includes the Colorado Springs-based academy, said he was “deeply concerned” about associate professor Lynne Chandler Garcia’s assertion in a Tuesday op-ed that “I teach critical race theories to our nation’s future military leaders.”
Mr. Lamborn pointed out that “two weeks ago, Secretary Austin testified before the House Armed Services Committee that critical race theory is not something being taught, pushed, or embraced in our military.”
“I am deeply concerned that an associate professor at the United States Air Force Academy has enthusiastically endorsed teaching critical race theory to the future officer corps of our Space Force and Air Force,” said Mr. Lamborn in a statement. “This is in direct violation of the clearly expressed intent of the Secretary of Defense.”
At last month’s committee hearing, Mr. Austin denied under questioning by Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, that critical race theory is 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.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said Wednesday that Mr. Austin “has testified at least twice that our military does not teach, instruct, or condone critical race theory. So Miss Garcia should start looking for a different place of employment, in my opinion.”
He added that he suspected that he and Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the academy superintendent, “will have a conversation soon about this.”
“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?”
In her Washington Post op-ed, Ms. Garcia, who teaches political science, said that “it is vital that cadets understand the history of the racism that has shaped both foreign and domestic policy.”
Critical race theory “helps students identify the structural racism and inequality that has been endemic in American society. And it provides methods for deconstructing oppressive beliefs, policies and practices to find solutions that will lead to justice,” she said.
Not persuaded was Rep. Debbie Lesko, Arizona Republican, who tweeted Wednesday that critical race theory “pushes an inaccurate version of history to divide our nation and group people based on the color of their skin. It has no place in our military or anywhere else in our nation.”
Mr. Lamborn, a member of the academy’s Board of Visitors, said that “I oppose teaching our cadets that the country they serve is fundamentally racist.”
“Critical race theory is an anti-American ideology rooted in Marxism and has no place in any of our service academies,” he said.
Mr. Cotton also took a swipe at the professor’s expertise, saying that it was “clear she knows very little about our Constitution, which is typical of colleges these days.”
“She has no business teaching the Constitution or political science to cadets at the Air Force,” he said.
The academy has not commented publicly on Ms. Garcia’s comments in the op-ed, headlined, “I’m a professor at a U.S. military academy. Here’s why I teach critical race theory.”
Ms. Garcia, who earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park, served as a military analyst for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to her online biography.