- The Washington Times - Friday, June 11, 2021

Sen. Tom Cotton has revealed some of the hundreds of whistleblower complaints from service members who object to critical race theory indoctrination in the military, including airmen being divided by race and sex into groups for “privilege walks.”

The service members also spoke out against receiving reading lists of critical race theory books as part of the Pentagon’s new anti-extremism and diversity training within the ranks.

“This is about a very specific kind of anti-American indoctrination that is seeping into some parts of our military,” Mr. Cotton said at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Mr. Cotton, Arkansas Republican, received the complaints through a whistleblower site he launched in late May in partnership with Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Texas Republican.

Mr. Cotton, a former Army infantry officer, and Mr. Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL lieutenant commander, created the site to identify “woke” ideology within the military, they said.

The service members’ complaints add to the mounting pushback against “woke” culture that is quickly spreading through America’s schools, workplaces and government. These institutions increasingly adopt training and curriculum based on critical race theory, which holds that White people are inherently racist and invested in the oppression of people of color.

Pentagon officials defend the training. They say it promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in the armed forces.

Critics say it is sowing division in the ranks.

“One Marine told us a 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,” Mr. Cotton said. “Another service member told us that their unit was required to read ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo, which claims ‘White people raised in Western society are conditioned in a White supremacist world view.’”

He said an airman complained that an exercise called “privilege walk” was a “racist exercise.”

“Members of the wing were ordered to separate themselves by race and gender in order to stratify people based on their perceived privilege,” Mr. Cotton said in describing the airman’s complaint.

The senator detailed several specific complaints last week while questioning Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the committee hearing.

“We’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone,” he said.

Mr. Cotton asked Mr. Austin whether he believes the military is fundamentally racist and whether service members should be treated differently based on race or sex. Mr. Austin answered no to both questions, and he said he welcomed service members to make complaints through their chain of command or the inspector general.

“I would also say that diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to this military now, and it will be important in the future,” Mr. Austin said. “And so we’re going to make sure that our military looks like America and that our leadership looks like what’s in the ranks of the military.”

The complaints follow Pentagon efforts to stamp out extremism in the ranks after current and former troops were identified in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In February, the Pentagon directed military units to hold a one-day “stand-down” to address extremism within the ranks.

The service members’ complaints also point to emerging polarization in the military ranks.

“Enough is enough,” Mr. Crenshaw said in a Twitter post when announcing the whistleblower site. “We won’t let our military fall to woke ideology.”

The efforts to improve inclusivity have gone too far, the lawmakers said. They added that the military has long been one of the country’s great equalizers.

“The military for decades has been one of the institutions in this society where you are most likely to get ahead based on your own performance, on your own merit, irrespective of the color of your skin or where you came from or who your parents were,” Mr. Cotton said.

“There’s a cultural identity that takes place in the military, which is actually really hard to emulate anywhere else, but it happens in the military,” Mr. Crenshaw told Fox News on Friday. “That’s what we should be talking about when we say the military is inclusive.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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