Chief Naval Officer (CNO) Michael Gilday refused to answer questions about the book “How To Be Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi for the second week in a row.
Gilday included “How To Be Antiracist” in the CNO’s Professional Reading Program, making it a recommended read for all sailors. Gilday appeared in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, where Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton questioned him on the book. He had also faced questions in the House on June 15 from Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks about the inclusion of the book.
“I want to give you a sampling of some of the things that are included in books like this,” Cotton said. “The notion that capitalism is essentially racist, and that racism is essentially capitalist. That the only remedy for past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy for present discrimination is future discrimination. That some individuals, by virtue of his or her race, are inherently oppressive or privileged, while others are victimized or oppressed. That individuals can bear some kind of collective responsibility or collective guilt for the actions committed by members of his or her race.”
“Admiral Gilday, how did these books get on your reading list?” Cotton asked.
“I chose a variety of books. There are over 50 books on my reading list to give our sailors a wide range of information from which I hope they can make fast, fact-based decisions on both their ability to look outwardly at potential aggressors like China and Russia, as well as looking inwardly and being honest with ourselves in areas that we need to improve,” Gilday answered.
“Talking to sailors over the past year, it’s clearly obvious to me and others that the murder of George Floyd, and the events surrounding that, the discussions in this country about racism, which go back for years and years and years, are still a painful part of our culture. Talking about them, understanding them, is the best approach, and offering books like Kendi’s for people to read. And they don’t have to accept every assertion that Kendi makes. I don’t accept every assertion that Kendi makes, and I wouldn’t think that all sailors would as well. But they need to be exposed to it. We need critical thinkers in the Navy,” he continued.
“You’re saying, as a senior leader of the Navy, that you want 18-year-old sailors and 22-year-old ensigns to read a book that asserts that capitalism is essentially racist? Do you agree that capitalism is essentially racist?” Cotton responded.
“I’m not going to engage without understanding the context of statements like that,” Gilday replied.
“In what context could the claim that capitalism is essentially racist possibly be something with which you would agree?” Cotton responded.
“I’d have to go back to the book to take a look at that,” Gilday answered.
Cotton also slammed Gilday’s June 15 testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, labeling his claim that by questioning the inclusion of the book, Republicans are trying to “paint the U.S. military… as weak, as woke,” a strawman. During the June 15 testimony, Gilday also refused to condemn the conspiracy theory, promoted in the past by Kendi, that white people invented AIDS. (RELATED: ‘Ideological Poison’: Tom Cotton Slams Military’s Promotion Of Critical Race Theory)
Cotton is the sponsor of the “Combating Racist Training in the Military Act of 2021,” which would prohibit trainings associated with critical race theory (CRT). A similar bill, introduced by Republican Tennessee Rep. Mark Green, would prohibit CRT-related trainings in service academies.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
As CNO, Gilday is supported by the Naval War College (NWC) which “conducts research, analysis, and gaming to support [his] requirements.”
The terms included privilege, critical race theory, gender neutral, anti-racism and white supremacy, among others.
“You might think these are PC terms, you might think they’re woke, you might think all kinds of things about them, but forget how you are judging them, and just notice these terms,” she stated.
“This is a conversation about systemic and structural disadvantages that have a history, and that are intentional, and in some ways are rooted in this tradition of political liberalism, where we focus on the individual, which is very nice because it gets us out of having conversations about systems.”