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US Navy keeping books criticized as ‘anti-American, leftist propaganda’ on official reading list

U.S. Navy sailors stand on the deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
March 19, 2021

The U.S. Navy will keep several books on its official reading list, the Professional Reading Program (PRP), despite complaints from several Republican lawmakers that the books promote ideas counter to Navy values, Fox News reported Wednesday.

On Feb. 26, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who currently serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve as a Supply Corps officer and deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015, sent a letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday saying the book “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi promotes discrimination. Banks wrote that the book is “anti-american” because according to Kendi “America is fundamentally racist, so anti-Americanism is a moral imperative.”

In his letter obtained by Fox News, Banks wrote that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, “but according to Kendi, racial discrimination isn’t inherently bad, in fact, it’s just as likely to be good. He explains: ‘If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.” Banks said the book further claims capitalism is inherently racist.

Banks also wrote that Kendi has espoused racist views himself, such as saying Europeans are socialized to be aggressive and “raised to be racist” and conspiracy theories that white people are responsible for the AIDS virus and are actually aliens.

Responding to the Bank’s original letter, Gilday defended keeping “How to Be Antiracist” on the reading list.

Gilday said put “How to Be Antiracist” on the reading list because “it evokes the author’s own personal journey in understanding barriers to true inclusion, the deep nuances of racism and racial inequalities” and because he wants Navy sailors to pursue the same level of self-reflection, according to Fox News.

Other Republican lawmakers have also raised concerns over the Navy’s 2021 reading list.

Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) sent their own letter to Gilday on March 11, with concern about the reading list’s inclusion of “How to be an Antiracist,” as well as Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” and Jason Pierceson’s “Sexual Minorities and Politics.” Banks, Lamborn and Hartzler are all members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, also tweeted, “I can’t believe this is happening to the Navy I love: pushing overtly leftist propaganda on their OFFICIAL reading list, threatening the longstanding tradition of political neutrality. The Chief of Naval Operations needs to correct this. Retweet if you agree: no more woke BS.”

The PRP website states, “Nearly 200 years ago, the Navy ordered its ships be outfitted with a reading list of 37 books in order to help train and educate Sailors. The Navy’s leaders knew then what is still the case today: to outthink our competitors we must study and apply lessons we’ve learned from our past. Furthermore, it is critically important for our Navy to be a learning organization. And one of the very best ways to do that is to foster an environment where every Sailor deepens their level of understanding and learning.”

The Navy is moving forward with the controversial reading list after President Joe Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered a widespread Department of Defense stand-down to address extremism within the military. Despite this announced effort to stop extremism, Republican lawmakers have raised several recent complaints that the military is risking becoming more politicized.

This week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), sent a letter to Austin, raising concern about the Pentagon’s response to news segments by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in which Carlson questioned whether the U.S. military is prioritizing diversity over its warfighting capabilities. Cruz noted an official Pentagon press release titled “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military” and an official Marine Corps Twitter account which referred to Carlson as a “boomer.”