A high-ranking naval officer refused to condemn the widely debunked conspiracy theory that white people invented the AIDS epidemic to target black people at a congressional hearing over the inclusion and application of critical race theory in the military.
The exchange occurred when Republican Rep. Jim Banks asked Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday for his thoughts on the conspiracy theory, which he cited to reference a college newspaper column penned by “anti-racism” and critical race theorist Ibram X. Kendi.
“Do you personally consider the conspiracy theory that white people started AIDS to be an extremist belief?” Banks asked Gilday.
In February, Banks submitted a letter to the navy demanding an explanation for why Kendi’s book on critical race theory was included in the military branch’s recommended reading list. Banks is one of many Republicans who have come out in vocal opposition to the racially divisive ideology that claims that all white people are inherently racist and contribute to a system of oppression, which the theory refers to generally as “white supremacy.”
Variations of the race essentialist concept refer to “white supremacy” as “the patriarchy,” “the kyriarchy,” and other buzzwords — all of which hold that the United States and other Western cultures are fundamentally racist. They instruct adherents to view every social interaction through the lens of race and see individuals in terms of the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Proponents of ‘CRT’ seek to “dismantle” existing social structures by setting aside merit and objective truth, and adopting race-based policies, which they refer to as “equity.”
“I’d have to understand the context in which these statements are made,” Gilday responded. “I’m not going to sit here and defend cherry-picked quotes from somebody’s book. I’m not going to do that.”
“That is a simple question. Admiral, this is a book that you recommended every sailor in the U.S. Navy read,” Banks replied.
Gilday refused to answer the question directly, per the Daily Caller, and reportedly pivoted the conversation to left-wing talking points about systemic racism.
“This is a bigger issue than Kendi’s book. What this is really about is painting the U.S. military, in this case, the U.S. Navy, as weak, as woke, and we’ve had sailors that spent 341 days at sea last year with minimal port visits,” Gilday said.
“Our strength is in our diversity, and our sailors understand that,” he added. “Racism in the U.S. is a very complex issue. What we benefit from is an open discussion about those issues. That we don’t try to ignore and 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 from fact from fiction.”
When pressed, Gilday refused to condemn Kendi’s accusation that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was a colonizer for adopting orphans from Haiti. He also refused to condemn Kendi for his claim that capitalism is inherently racist.
While the Trump administration banned the use of CRT in teaching and training in the U.S. military, the executive order was revoked on day one by President Joe Biden upon his inauguration.