Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), a reservist Green Beret and colonel, sent a second letter to West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams requesting information on whether critical race theory was being taught on campus.
Waltz first wrote to Williams in April, after he was approached by a number of cadets, family members, and soldiers stationed at West Point, who shared with him information about presentations and seminars related to critical race theory.
In his April 8, 2021, letter, Waltz wrote that he was told cadets were required to attend at least one seminar on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” and obtained slides from one of the seminars that were titled “White Power at West Point” and “Racist Dog Whistles at West Point.” He said another slide depicted a lecture by Dr. Carol Anderson of Emory University with the title “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.” He added:
Additionally, I understand that on September 24, 2020 the entire corps of cadets was required to report to Michie Stadium for your address as Superintendent and to hear from a cadet panel. In this session, an active duty female colonel described to the Corps how she become [sic] ‘woke’ to her white privilege, and felt guilty for the advantages of her race. At this same assembly, white police officers were described as murderers with no context or court documents provided to corroborate the anecdotes of police brutality.
Williams responded in an undated letter to Waltz: “Thank you for your letter dated April 8, 2021 regarding recent diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on-going here at the United States Military Academy (USMA).” The letter read:
The mission of the United States Military Academy is to educate, train , and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character dedicated to the values of duty, honor, and country, and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army. Extremism in any form is antithetical to the values of our Army and Nation and has no place at West Point.
As a world-class institution of higher education, an overarching goal of our academic program is for graduates to integrate knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines so that they can anticipate and respond appropriately to opportunities and challenges in a changing world. Achieving that goal requires us to expose our cadets, staff, and faculty to diverse thoughts and perspectives. Through this exposure, we aim to teach our cadets how to think, not what to think.
Williams confirmed that in September 2020, West Point conducted an ‘Honorable Living Day and a follow-on Diversity and Leadership Conference on September 23-24, 2020.” He said the Honorable Living Day included a cadet panel, a virtual guest lecture by Dr. Steve Robbins (a leading scholar in human behavior related to inclusion and diversity) regarding the neuroscience of inclusivity, and small unit-level discussions.
He said cadets were given the option to attend a follow-up seminar by Dr. Robbins, who then spoke about unconscious bias from a neuroscience standpoint and offered great perspective on the subject. He wrote, “It was a powerful lecture, and his words focused not on race but rather human behavior.”
He said the slides referenced by Waltz were part of a mandatory social media training session conducted by West Point’s public affairs office to give cadets a “broad understanding of the social media landscape and allow cadets a glimpse into how various social media posts may be interpreted.”
Williams also confirmed that Anderson was invited as a guest lecturer for two courses on Race, Ethnicity, and Nation and Civil Rights Movements. He said:
These courses are upper-level electives with a total enrollment of approximately 40 cadets and are not part of the core curriculum nor are they required electives for any of our History majors. These courses are purely elective in nature. Approximately 100 additional personnel attended the guest lecture voluntarily in addition to the cadets enrolled in the courses.
Dr. Anderson spoke extemporaneously with the audience virtually . She described the subtle ways by which black Americans have been disadvantaged through historical American policy. She closed the session by encouraging the audience to consider 2nd and 3rd order effect of policies and for the audience to reconsider a zero-sum view of society that pits subgroups against each other. Rather, she reinforced the strength of the Nation in terms of our talents and values and that this is the correct narrative moving forward.
Williams also confirmed there is a course at West Point that includes critical race theory, titled, “SS392 – the Politics of Race, Gender, and Sexuality.” He said there are two lessons on critical race theory, and a required reading of the book Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.
“This course is an upper-level elective. Most of the cadets who take the course are Political Science majors. Typical enrollment for this elective course averages about 23 cadets annually,” he said,
Williams also confirmed that a white female colonel did describe her personal experiences and friendship with an African American classmate in the early 1990s and visiting him in the projects.
She discussed her experiences visiting his family in the projects of Elizabeth, New Jersey, describing how this experience allowed her to better understand the different pathways some cadets face in achieving a place at the Academy. She closed by encouraging all cadets to get to know their classmates, build friendships, and create cohesive teams within the ranks of the corps of cadets. This encouragement is exactly aligned with the cohesive teams initiative championed by the Army. We are proud of her for sharing that story and for providing the Corps of Cadets with encouragement to create a personal connection with each other.
Williams denied that police officers were ever described as “murderers,” but said during the Honorable Living Day, a cadet described how his father was beaten to death by police when he was six-years-old. “This cadet showed tremendous courage and we applaud his willingness to contribute to a very powerful day of development for the entire West Point enterprise.”
Waltz then responded in a letter sent on Wednesday, June 9, 2021:
While I appreciate the substantive details you provided, I did not receive “the full presentation of these seminars, presentations, assemblies, and other related curricula” that I have respectfully requested in my oversight capacity as a Member of Congress on the House Armed Services Committee. My request still stands. Additionally, I have further concerns with the information you have shared with me that I would like to convey to you in this letter.
Waltz also said the slides from Anderson’s lecture were “by no means subtle.” Waltz said:
Why was a guest lecturer who characterized the former Commander-in-Chief as a ‘white nationalist’ and the Republican Party platform ‘white nationalism’ invited to teach cadets who should aspire to lead an apolitical military? Was there a vetting process and review of her statements made on social media and in media prior to extending her an offer to teach Military Academy cadets?
Waltz also noted that the required reading Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, is about a theoretical framework rooted in Marxism:
These teachings posit Americans as the oppressed or an oppressor—a status from which you are freed only when all existing societal structures, which are inherently systemically racist, are torn down or overthrown. Not only are these teachings antithetical to unity, discipline, and order within the U.S. Army, they are incredibly disturbing given the monopoly on power our military can have over American society and for their implications towards the continued subordination of the military to civilian oversight.
As a nation, we are on incredibly perilous ground if any of the future leaders of our military are taught that the civilian institutions and structures with ultimate authority over them – our courts, elected officials, our laws – are systemically oppressive and that they therefore have a duty to oppose them. Does the U.S. Military Academy intend to continue to authorize these types of teachings and seminars going forward?
Waltz concluded: “In that vein, I am respectfully making you aware that legislation (H.R. 3134) was introduced on May 12th 2021 in the United States House of Representatives, that I cosponsored, to prohibit the United States military and academies from promoting doctrines associated with CRT. I am also an original cosponsor of legislation (H.R. 3046) that would prohibit U.S. Military Academies from providing training and education based on CRT. These proposals will likely be considered within the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act.”