Military service members have complained about being subjected to critical race theory indoctrination as part of the Pentagon's wokeness, The Washington Times reported.
Service members said they were divided by race and sex into groups for "privilege walks," and spoke out against receiving reading lists of critical race theory books as part of the Defense Department's new anti-extremism and diversity training.
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.
"This is about a very specific kind of anti-American indoctrination that is seeping into some parts of our military," Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Cotton received the complaints through a whistleblower website he started in partnership with Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, in late May.
Cotton, a former Army infantry officer, and Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL lieutenant commander, created the site to identify woke ideology within the military, the Times reported.
The Pentagon joins America's schools, workplaces, and other government entities increasingly adopting training and curriculum based on critical race theory as woke culture spreads.
The Times said the DOD has defended the training, saying it promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion in the armed forces.
Others, however, say it is creating division within the ranks.
"One Marine told us a military history training session was replaced with mandatory training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism," Cotton said. "He reported that several officers are now leaving his unit citing that training.
"Another service member told us that their unit was required to read 'White Fragility' by Robin DiAngelo, which claims 'White people raised in Western society are conditioned in a White supremacist world view.'"
Cotton also said an airman complained that an exercise called "privilege walk" was a "racist exercise."
"Members of the wing were ordered to separate themselves by race and gender in order to stratify people based on their perceived privilege," Cotton said in describing the airman's complaint.
Crenshaw took to Twitter to post video of Thursday's Senate committee hearing and said:
"Worth the watch. We've received hundreds of complaints about this - CRT lessons, white privilege training manuals, even 'privilege walks.' This is a disturbing, real trend in our military that the left wants to ignore. We're not going to ignore it. We're going to expose it."
Cotton mentioned other complaints while questioning Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the hearing.
"We're hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone," Cotton said.
Cotton asked Austin whether he believes the military is fundamentally racist and whether service members should be treated differently based on race or sex.
Answering "no" to both questions, Austin said he welcomed service members to lodge complaints through their chain of command or the inspector general.
"I would also say that diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to this military now, and it will be important in the future," Austin said. "And so we're going to make sure that our military looks like America and that our leadership looks like what's in the ranks of the military."
Cotton said the military's efforts to improve inclusivity have gone too far.
"The military for decades has been one of the institutions in this society where you are most likely to get ahead based on your own performance, on your own merit, irrespective of the color of your skin or where you came from or who your parents were," Cotton said.
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