“If it harms unit cohesion or esprit de corps in the military, we’re literally risking our freedoms,” the Arkansas Republican said in an online forum sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“Why can’t we replay Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘content of character and not the color of our skin speech?’” he said.
Critical race theory focuses on the idea that while individual White people may not be racists, aspects of the nation’s laws and institutions still work against minorities. It asserts that White people are privileged in benefiting from what’s known as systemic racism.
Mr. Cotton has introduced legislation barring federal education funds from going to schools that use the New York Times’ 1619 Project. The initiative has drawn fire for its focus on the importance of slavery in the nation’s history and for making the inaccurate claim that the nation fought for its independence because of a fear that Great Britain would end slavery in the colonies.
But while the teaching of the theory in schools has caused controversy around the country, Mr. Cotton said the potential for harm from embracing critical race theory is particularly dire in the military.
Mr. Cotton and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican and former Navy SEAL, have tried in recent months to draw public attention to “woke” culture seeping into military training, particularly under the Biden administration, by collecting and making public anonymous complaints from service members.
Mr.Cotton, for instance, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month that one Marine told him that training on military history had been replaced with lessons on police brutality, White privilege, and systemic racism. He reported that several officers are now leaving his unit, citing that training.
Mr. Cotton said another service member reported that their unit had been required to read ‘White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, which claims that “White people raised in Western society are conditioned in a White supremacist world view.’”
White supremacy in the context of critical race theory, however, refers to the idea that Whites have enjoyed advantages due to their race, as opposed to referring to the beliefs of White supremacist groups.
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