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Sen. Cotton’s new bill would ban US military’s ‘racist’ critical race theory training

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) Jan. 8, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)
March 25, 2021

On Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced legislation, known as the Combatting Racist Training in the Military Act, to prohibit the U.S. military “from promoting racist theories, most notably Critical Race Theory.”

In a press statement shared with American Military News, Cotton said, “Our military’s strength depends on the unity of our troops and the knowledge that America is a noble nation worth fighting for. Critical Race Theory teaches that race is a person’s most important characteristic, and that America is an evil, oppresive place.”

Cotton, an Army combat veteran and retired infantry officer, is introducing the bill amid concerns over the military’s efforts to promote critical race theory literature and training. The Navy recently included author Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to Be an Antiracist,” to its official service-wide reading list. Other Republican lawmakers have criticized the book, which they said promotes the idea of using discrimination to rectify past racial inequity and author Kendi, who has previously claimed white people are responsible for the AIDs virus and are actually aliens.

In his press release, Cotton noted the Navy’s Second Fleet also created a book club for sailors to read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, a book Cotton said claims white people are inherently racist, whether consciously or subconsciously, and that race is the insidious subtext for virtually all human interactions.”

Cotton said the idea of Criticial Race Theory “may be fashionable in left-wing circles and college classrooms, but it has no place in our military. Not only will such racist ideas undermine our troops’ faith in each other, they’ll also erode their trust in our country’s guiding principles. The United States military shouldn’t be promoting such divisive, un-American ideas.”

The Combatting Racist Training in the Military Act bill prohibits six racist theories from being taught in the U.S. military and at educational institutions operated or controlled by the Department of Defense.

  1. Any race is inherently superior or inferior to any other race.
  2. The United States is a fundamentally racist country.
  3. The Declaration of Independence or the United States Constitution are fundamentally racist documents.
  4. An individual’s moral worth is determined by his or her race.
  5. An individual, by virtue of his or her race, is inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
  6. An individual, because of his or her race, bears responsibility for the actions committed by members of his or her race.

Cotton’s bill would also prohibit the military from using theories or materials “that advocate such theories in curricula, reading lists, seminars, workshops, trainings, or other educational or professional settings in a manner that could reasonably give rise to the appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.” Cotton said his bill does not prevent individuals from accessing materials that contain such theories on their own, or exercising lawful and protected speech. The bill also would not prohibit the military from “describing these theories or assigning works that advocate such theories in educational contexts that make clear the military does not sponsor, approve, or endorse them.”

The bill would also prohibit the military from hiring speakers, consultants or trainers that advocate the aforementioned theories, and prohibits the military from compelling service members to affirm or profess beliefs in such theories. The military would also be prohibited from segregating service members or other individuals by race in any setting, including for training or educational purposes.

Cotton’s proposed legislation comes after former President Donald Trump also attempted to block the teaching of critical race theory ideas within government settings. In September, Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, at Trump’s direction, ordered the discontinuation of government employee training based on critical race theory. Trump also established the 1776 Commission which he said was intended to pushback against the rise in popularity of critical race theory in the education system and “restore patriotic education” to U.S. public schools.

In his first executive order, President Joe Biden revoked ended the 1776 Commission in an executive order titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” Biden’s executive order also revoked the Trump-era order barring critical race theory training in the federal government.