Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, spoke out against what he described as the U.S. military’s focus on “wokeness” and pushed back against Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby’s assertions that no such issues with “wokeness” exist.
On Tuesday, Gallagher’s officer published clips from his recent guest lecture at Hillsdale College. “While U.S. Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby recently dismissed wokeness in the military as ‘ridiculous,’ as Congressman Gallagher laid out in his lecture, these concerns are legitimate and have significant consequences on U.S. national security,” Gallagher’s office said.
In one segment of his lecture, Gallagher listed a number of military diversity training materials and initiatives he said fit within his charge of a “woke” agenda within the armed forces.
Gallgher, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “In his first week on the job, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered a 60-day stand down to confront ‘extremism,’ forcing all commanding officers to spend a day discussing extremism using a PowerPoint presentation prepared by the Joint Staff that included Ted Talks asking ‘What is up with us white people?'”
Gallagher further said Bishop Garrison, the Pentagon’s Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Defense on Human Capital and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, publicly tweeted that support for former President Donald Trump is support for extremism and racism.
Gallagher also noted controversies about the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and its requirement for cadets to attend a seminar that included presentations on “White Power at West Point” and “Understanding Whiteness and White Rage.”
Another issue Gallagher raised Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adml. Mike Gilday’s decision to include Ibram X Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist on the Navy’s “Professional Reading Program.”
Kendi’s book advocates racial discrimination as a means to rectify past and present real and perceived racial inequity. Gallagher noted Kendi has also called Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett a “white colonizer” who uses her adopted Haitian children as props, argued that capitalism is “essentially racist”, and said, “racism has spread to nearly every part of the body politic…threatening the life of human society with nuclear war and climate change.”
During his lecture, Gallagher further criticized Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley’s and CNO Gilday’s defenses of the use of “woke” training and reading materials.
“Milley and Gilday are not simply pointing out that America’s e pluribus unum melting pot is an asset for the U.S. military recruitment and that we should be proud that we live in a diverse nation with a diverse military,” Gallagher said. “Nor are they making the narrower argument that, as the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan illustrate a dearth of specialized linguistic and cultural skills can actually produce death on the battlefield . . . That’s not the claim being made.”
“Instead, they’re asking us to embrace a brand of identity politics that is fashionable on the Left right now, one which judges people explicitly by the color of their skin rather than treating them as equals or judging them on their merits as individuals.”
Gallagher further said the ideas behind the military’s existing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are based on “shoddy” social science. As an example, Gallagher noted Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adml. John Nowell’s recent calls for reinstating photos for promotion selection boards “so skin color can factor into promotion.” Nowell recommended the reversal in policy in August, less than a year after the Navy did away with photos for promotion selection boards as “a way to eliminate the possibility of bias.”