Rep. Jim Banks Rakes Admiral Across Smoldering Coals Over Critical Race Theory

Admiral Michael Gilday answers questions about his suggestion that every sailor should read "How to Be an Anti-Racist" by Ibram X Kendi (Credit: Committee on Armed Services)

During a Tuesday House hearing, Rep. Jim Banks (IN) conducted a scathing interrogation of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday over critical race theory in the military. The lawmaker peppered Gilday over his suggestion that “every sailor” should read “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by activist Ibram X. Kendi.

The representative noted that the Navy, along with the rest of the Armed Forces, observed a one-day stand-down to identify ways to deal with extremist ideologies within its ranks. Banks noted that Gilday indicated that “we will not tolerate extremist ideologies that go against our oath to the Constitution.”

Banks then laid out why he believes that Kendi has expressed extremist views in the past. “In my view, Kendi has espoused extremist beliefs that clearly violate the oath to the Constitution that I took when I served in the Navy. Ibram Kendi, by the way, labeled Amy Coney Barrett a ‘white colonizer’ and criticized her for ‘cutting the biological parents of these children out’ because she adopted two children from Haiti,” the lawmaker pointed out.

He then asked: “Yes or no, Admiral: Do you personally consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief?”

Gilday responded: “Sir, when I said correct the record … you paraphrased me. I said I do not support everything Kendi said in his book.”

Banks repeated his question, but his microphone malfunctioned so Gilday’s answer could not be heard.

The lawmaker noted that Kendi argues in his book that capitalism is inherently racist and that the activist’s objective is to erase racism. “So yes or no: Do you personally consider advocating for the destruction of American capitalism to be extremist?” Banks asked.

Gilday began to reply: “Here’s what I know, Congressman. There’s racism in the United States Navy. I have an obligation –“

Banks interjected: “It’s a yes or no question, Admiral. Admiral, you recommended that every sailor in the United States Navy read this book. It’s a yes or no question.”

Gilday replied: “I’m not forcing anybody to read the book. It’s on a recommended reading list.”

The representative pointed out that while Kendi was in college, he wrote that white people are a different breed of humans and that they created the AIDS virus. He asked if Gilday believed this constituted an extremist belief.

The admiral responded by saying he would “have to understand the context in which the statements were made.”

He continued:

I’m not going to sit here and defend cherry-picked quotes from somebody’s book. I’m not going to do that. This is a bigger issue than somebody’s book. What this is really about is trying to paint the United States military, and in this case, the United States Navy is weak, as woke, and we’ve had sailors that spent 341 days at sea last year with minimal port visits, the longest deployments we’ve had since the Second World War; we are not weak, we are strong …

Banks acknowledged that the Defense Department conducted the stand-down “because they understand that extremism detracts from military readiness.” He continued, asking if Gilday would expect morale to increase or decrease if sailors embraced Kendi’s teachings about America being fundamentally racist.

The admiral answered:

I do know this: Our strength is in our diversity, and our sailors understand that. Racism in the United States is a very complex issue. What we benefit from is an open discussion about those issues. That we don’t try to ignore it or rewrite it, but we actually have a discussion about it and there will be various views. And I trust sailors will come to an understanding of hopefully separating fact from fiction, agreeing or disagreeing with Kendi in this case, and come to hopefully very useful conclusions about how we ought to treat each other in the United States military.

The admiral also argued that “it’s really important to consider a variety of views.”

On this last point, Gilday is right. When discussing issues such as racism or extremist ideologies, it is important to look at different points of view. However, recent events indicate that this is not the intention of those pushing critical race theory or other forms of woke theology in the military.

Indeed, we have already seen that speaking out against Marxist thought becoming more pervasive in the military can get one fired from their position. This troubling trend can easily be seen in the firing of former Space Force commander Matthew Lohmeier. (See: Military Officer Fired Over Criticism of Marxist Ideology Creeping Into Armed Forces)

When a member of the military can be punished for expressing certain viewpoints, it becomes obvious that the folks arguing for critical race theory in the military are not trying to allow personnel to sample from a smorgasbord of different views on race, they are simply trying to impose their ideology by force. Unfortunately, unless there is enough blowback on this issue, the hard left will succeed in creating a “woke” military under the guise of rooting out extremism.