Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY), a West Point graduate representing the academy’s district in Congress, said he has “zero time” for complaints about the military’s “wokeness” as he’s more focused on rising threats from China and Russia.
“I have zero time for the political distractions and BS, and I will very aggressively call that out,” Ryan said Monday in a Military.com interview.
The remark came as the Army veteran is expecting to be seated on the House Armed Services Committee, where he would be empowered with influential oversight of the military, Military.com reported. He briefly served on the committee in the last Congress after winning a special election in September.
He continued, “Especially at a time of great global risk and change and uncertainty between China and Russia and everything else, we need to be the adults in the room here. We need to be the ones thinking not about scoring political points or what’s gonna get you more likes on Twitter or hits on Fox News.”
Politicians have increasingly alleged that the military is too focused on cultural issues and so-called “wokeness.” The sentiment has trickled into the general population, according to a recent poll that found 62 percent of people think the military is “becoming overly politicized.”
The top U.S. general, Mark Milley, drew criticism in 2021 for saying he wants “to understand white rage.” That comment was responding to a Republican congressman’s question about the teaching of “critical race theory” at West Point, where Ryan graduated in 2004.
“The ultimate irony to me — a lot of people calling this out haven’t spent a single day in uniform, and I think that certainly shows in how they’ve conducted themselves,” Ryan said.
He said he hopes that U.S. national security issues can transcend cultural debates.
“I still think, in a very divided moment politically, we are going to be able to come together around issues of national security, of taking care of veterans and military families, and I remain optimistic that we can do that,” he said. “When there are other members and other folks who are in it for their own, whatever reasons of ambition or whatever reasons are causing them to politicize this stuff, we have to call them out.”