Opinion: I’m a professor at a U.S. military academy. Here’s why I teach critical race theory.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley’s recent defense of teaching critical race theory at the U.S. military academies shows that it is not unpatriotic to understand a fuller version of American history, nor does it promote division among our military members.
As a professor of political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I teach critical race theories to our nation’s future military leaders because it is vital that cadets understand the history of the racism that has shaped both foreign and domestic policy.
Cadets, like all military members, take an oath to defend the Constitution with their lives — so it is crucial they have a sensitive understanding of that Constitution.
In my classes, cadets learn about the ideals embedded in this founding document. We explore the liberalist theories that promoted these ideals, and we embrace our democratic system of government. But we also acknowledge that the United States was founded on a duality: liberalism and equal rights on the one hand; inequality, inegalitarianism, and second-class citizenship on the other.
Critical race theory provides an academic framework to understand these nuances and contradictions. It helps students identify the structural racism and inequality that has been endemic in American society. And it provides methods for deconstructing oppressive beliefs, policies and practices to find solutions that will lead to justice.
The reality of the Constitution is that it upholds the rule of law and human rights, but once also allowed slavery and has been used to perpetuate legal discrimination. As Frederick Douglass pointed out, although the Declaration of Independence and Constitution espoused liberty and justice, enslaved people had no part of those virtues and no reason to celebrate a day like the Fourth of July. Thurgood Marshall suggested a “sensitive understanding of the Constitution’s inherent defects and its promising evolution.”
This extends to understanding ourselves as the U.S. military. The military was among the first institutions to desegregate and has a celebrated history of diversity in its ranks, though that history has long been complicated. For instance, serving in the military was a path to freedom for some enslaved people, and thousands of Black soldiers, both enslaved and free, fought for America as early as the Revolutionary War. At the same time, George Washington is said to have initially opposed the recruitment of Black soldiers.
In other words, racism was ingrained in the system from the beginning, and the military still struggles with these issues. As a recent inspector general’s report on disparities in the Air Force and Space Force pointed out, Black service members lag behind their White peers in promotion rates but are overrepresented in disciplinary actions. Further, a recent Defense Department report documented the threat of white supremacy within the ranks. Cadets need to understand these contradictions within their institutions.
In addition to teaching critical race theories, I provide my cadets with lessons on political discourse and breaking down divides of polarization through communication and empathy. Cadets at the Air Force Academy will soon command racially diverse units. Racial minorities serve, especially in the enlisted corps, at greater rates than their representation in the general civilian workforce. As of May 2018, Black representation in the enlisted force was 19.1 percent, compared with roughly 13 percent in the general workforce.
Officers must comprehend the unique experiences and concerns of their diverse troops. A holistic education leads to understanding and unity as service members consider what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.
Our officer development curriculum is founded on pushing cadets outside their comfort zones: They jump out of planes, leap off 10-meter platforms, endure grueling physical challenges and assume difficult command responsibilities. Their intellectual development should be no different. To think critically and read broadly is fundamental to making them future leaders for times of both war and peace.
I don’t coddle my cadets out of fear that exposure to certain literatures might make them uncomfortable or test their existing beliefs. Cadets must learn to be brave on the literal battlefield, yes — but they must also be equipped to participate bravely on the battlefield of ideas.
Lynne Chandler García is an associate professor of political science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The views expressed are the author’s own.
So, I am not surprised when Representative Mark Green (R-TN), himself a physician, a retired and highly decorated U.S. Army Major, and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, took exception and requested the removal of the instructor from the Air Force Academy…
Professor Lynne Chandler García’s full-throttled attack on our country and her support for Critical Race Theory render her unqualified to teach in one of our prestigious military academies. How are our future Air Force leaders supposed to take an oath to defend the Constitution if they are being taught that it is racist and promotes inequality?
As a graduate of West Point and Army veteran, I know firsthand what is taught at these service academies leaves a lasting impact. It was at West Point where I first raised my right hand and took the oath to defend our Constitution. My professors there taught me the importance of serving our nation—both in uniform and in public office. And it was at West Point where I was first inspired to run for office.
Teaching our next generation that our country is fundamentally racist is not only propagandizing lies about our great nation, it will also undoubtedly leave an impact on our nation’s Armed Forces and national security. If we want servicemembers who are proud to defend this country, we must not denigrate the very principles upon which it was founded. Making them ashamed of their country will only decrease morale, retention, and unit cohesion.
Critical Race Theory teaches that the only way to right past racial discrimination is with present racial discrimination. This teaching is utterly incompatible with the principles in the Declaration of Independence and the Civil Rights Movement—not to mention illegal. Our country already lived through a horrific era when people were judged by the color of their skin rather than by the content of their character—we must never go back to this way of thinking.
Lastly, the Constitution has brought freedom and self-governance, not only to the United States of America, but to nations around the globe. Our men and women in uniform have been fighting for the ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality throughout the world ever since. To suggest that these causes and wars were birthed out of racism disrespects those who died fighting against the Nazis in Europe, communists in Asia, or terrorists in the Middle East.
If we allow this destructive ideology to be taught in our Military Service Academies, we will be responsible for this nation’s demise. Professor García must be removed from her teaching position, and for the sake of our national security: Stop Critical Race Theory from being taught in our military service academies. <Source>
It is abhorrent that the Democrat Party has been infiltrated with communists and represents a fifth column to destroy America from within. Our enemies have been given seats in Congress, entrée to the White House, and positions of power in our government, institutions, and critical infrastructure. We must stop them before they destroy our military who defend the Constitution of the United States and the safety and security of America and all Americans.
We are so screwed.
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell