When I joined the U.S. Navy reserves in 2012, I swore an oath to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the U.S. Constitution.
Since then, I’ve met sailors from all across America, and nearly all of them come from backgrounds very different from mine. The Navy is a truly diverse organization, so it’s natural that I’ve had my fair share of disagreements with sailors on questions of politics and faith—but I’ve never met one who doesn’t take that oath as seriously as I do.
That’s why I was horrified to see a book on the Navy chief of operations’ reading list that directly contradicts the Navy’s oath. Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” is extremist, anti-American, and divisive, and should not be officially promoted by any part of our government.
Its main contention is that everything in the world can be divided into two moral categories, racist or anti-racist.
So, what is racist? Well, racial discrimination isn’t necessarily racist. According to Kendi, “If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist … The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination.”
A person is racist only if he supports polices that result in or contribute to inequitable racial outcomes. According to Kendi, “Capitalism is essentially racist,” and so, by extension, are capitalists. America is, of course, also racist, and so is the Constitution and those who uphold their oath to defend it.
Kendi includes a hypothetical anti-racist policy proposal in his book: establishing the unimaginatively titled “Department of Antiracism.” Kendi’s Department of Antiracism would have veto power over all federal, state, and local policy, and would have the power to investigate private citizens, businesses, and public officials for the expression of racist opinions.
Essentially, the Department of Antiracism is the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division empowered to violate almost every individual right and principle of constitutional governance in America.
Kendi’s ideas will hurt our Navy for the same reasons that any other type of extremism would hurt our military. Why would Americans fight and die for a country that is morally corrupt?
But Kendi’s beliefs won’t just divide the Navy against itself. They also pit the Navy against at least half of the country.
The military has consistently been one of the most trusted and popular institutions in America for the exact same reason that Congress has a 10% approval rating. It is because the military never has been—and was never intended to be—a political institution. But today, just 56% of Americans say they have “a great deal of trust and confidence” in our military, compared to 70% in 2018.
Currently, the Pentagon is in the middle of a 60-day review to combat “extremism” in the military. They are right to be concerned about extremism, which has no place in our armed services.
Books that condemn America on moral grounds, and advocate for the dissolution of the Constitution, are, by definition, extremist.
As the Pentagon conducts its review, it should carefully examine the contents of the Navy chief of operations’ reading list, and remove extremist propaganda—like Kendi’s book.
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