National Guard Lt. Col. and Green Beret Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) — who prompted Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley’s defense of critical race theory during a hearing this week — pushed back against the idea that learning critical race theory is akin to learning about “history” and that opposing it makes one racist.
Waltz had queried Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the hearing on why there was a lecture at West Point on “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.” While Austin acknowledged that should not have happened, Milley was invited to respond to Waltz by a Democrat congresswoman and said he thought it was important to study critical race theory to understand “white rage,” tying it to the January 6 Capitol riot.
Waltz told CNN’s Brianna Keilar:
Where I disagree with General Milley who commented later was, this isn’t some kind of history class. I have no problem with understanding our very checkered past with race and the atrocities that happened in the past. This was a seminar telling cadets how they should think and behave now. That dividing the United States along class lines and along racial lines of the oppressed and the oppressors is OK.
Waltz was referring to a lecture hosted on February 11, 2021, at West Point by Dr. Carol Anderson, who wrote the book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. Anderson told Vox in a January 27, 2021 interview that “white rage is a response to African Americans’ political advancement.”
She told Vox, “White rage is the operational function of white supremacy. It is the fear of a multicultural democracy. It is predicated on a sense that only whites are legitimate Americans.”
Waltz told CNN that he “fully” supported diversity in the military and that extremism should be rooted from the ranks, but added, “That’s not what this was about.”
Waltz has previously raised the issue of critical race theory being taught to cadets at West Point, prompted by parents and cadets’ concerns. He sent a letter to the West Point superintendent earlier this year and received confirmation of it being taught as part of a seminar. Waltz also received confirmation of a panel where a white colonel talked about her “white privilege” as well as that Anderson delivered the lecture on “white rage.” He said on CNN:
The underlying issue with critical race theory, frankly, for me, is that it teaches that our constitution, our civilian institutions, our courts, our political system, were established by oppressors to maintain that oppressive regime. And classifying anything along racial lines of all-white people is, in itself, racist. And I have real issue [with that].
It’s one thing for a kid in California to believe this. But these are our future military leaders, Brianna, that need to be subordinate to this civilian oversight. Critical race theory is teaching them that they need to resist that. That they need to push back on that. And I have real issue with the future generals of this country to have their finger on the button being taught that at a very early age, and they do, as well. And that’s why this is such a problem.
“Of course, we want the advancement of all Americans, including those of color. But that’s not what’s being taught at West Point. Again, not a history class, today. And I don’t think white rage is a result of the advancement of black people. And I certainly don’t think it should be taught to our future military leaders who should be colorblind, mission focused, and merit-based. That should be the focus of the United States military and the United States military academy,” he said.