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WATCH: Fiery, Explosive Challenge To Navy Admiral For Recommending Critical Race Theory Book For Every Sailor

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Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 1, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday, in an explosive series of questions fired at him on the Hill, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday was grilled about recommending critical race theory (CRT) activist Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to Be an Anti-Racist for every sailor in the U.S. Navy to read.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN) conducted a blistering interview at the House hearing, pointing out that the Navy recently completed a one-day stand-down to remove extremism from the ranks, with the Chief of Navy Personnel explaining, “We will not tolerate extremist ideologies that go against our oath to the Constitution.”

Banks pressed, “In my view, Kendi has espoused extremist beliefs that clearly violate the oath to the Constitution that I took when I served in the Navy. Ibram Kendi, by the way, labeled Amy Coney Barrett a ‘white colonizer’ and criticized her for ‘cutting the biological parents of these children out’ because she adopted two children from Haiti. Yes or no, Admiral: Do you personally consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief?”

After Gilday protested, “I said I do not support everything Kendi said in his book,” Banks fired, “I just asked you: Do you consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief? It’s a simple question.”

Banks asked a little later, “Kendi’s book states that capitalism is essentially racist, and Kendi is clear that racism must be eliminated. So yes or no: Do you personally consider advocating for the destruction of American capitalism to be extremist?”

Gilday dodged, “Here’s what I know, Congressman. There’s racism in the United States Navy. I have an obligation —”

Still later, Banks pointed to claims highlighted in a New Yorker article on Kendi, “In college, Kendi wrote that white people are a different breed of humans and are responsible for the AIDS virus. Yes or no: Do you personally consider the conspiracy that white people started AIDS to be an extremist belief?”

Gilday deflected, “Sir, I’d have to understand the context in which the statements were made.”

Banks concluded his questioning with this: “Do you expect that after sailors read this book that says that the United States is racist that we will increase or decrease morale, cohesion, and recruiting rates into the United States Navy?”

Gilday replied, “I think we’ll be a better Navy from having open, honest conversations about racism.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

Banks: Admiral Gilday, I was glad to hear Congressman (Doug) Lamborn ask you about your decision to include putting Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist in your recommended reading list. I was also relieved to hear you say that you disagreed with Kendi, and you do not support racial discrimination. That being said, the Navy recently completed a one-day stand-down to remove extremism from the ranks. The Chief of Navy Personnel explained, “We will not tolerate extremist ideologies that go against our oath to the Constitution.”

In my view, Kendi has espoused extremist beliefs that clearly violate the oath to the Constitution that I took when I served in the Navy. Ibram Kendi, by the way, labeled Amy Coney Barrett a “white colonizer” and criticized her for “cutting the biological parents of these children out” because she adopted two children from Haiti. Yes or no, Admiral: Do you personally consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief?

Gilday: Sir, when I said correct the record … you paraphrased me. I said I do not support everything Kendi said in his book.

Banks: I just asked you: Do you consider opposition to interracial adoption an extremist belief? It’s a simple question.

Gilday’s answer was difficult to hear, since his microphone was off.

Banks: Kendi’s book states that capitalism is essentially racist, and Kendi is clear that racism must be eliminated. So yes or no: Do you personally consider advocating for the destruction of American capitalism to be extremist?

Gilday: Here’s what I know, Congressman.

Banks: It’s a yes or no question.

Gilday: Here’s what I know, Congressman. There’s racism in the United States Navy. I have an obligation —

Banks: It’s a yes or no question, Admiral. Admiral, you recommended that every sailor in the United States Navy read this book. It’s a yes or no question.

Gilday: I’m not forcing anybody to read the book. It’s on a recommended reading list.

Banks: Admiral, did you read the book?

Gilday: I did.

Banks: Okay. In college, Kendi wrote that white people are a different breed of humans and are responsible for the AIDS virus. Yes or no: Do you personally consider the conspiracy that white people started AIDS to be an extremist belief?

Gilday: Sir, I’d have to understand the context in which the statements were made.

Banks: That is a simple question.

Gilday: I’m not going to sit here —

Banks: Admiral, this is a book that you recommended every sailor in the United States Navy read.

Gilday: I’m not going to sit here and defend cherry-picked quotes from somebody’s book. I’m not going to do that. This is a bigger issue than somebody’s book. What this is really about is trying to paint the United States military, and in this case, the United States Navy is weak, as woke, and we’ve had sailors that spent 341 days at sea last year with minimal port visits, the longest deployments we’ve had since the Second World War; we are not weak, we are strong …

Banks: Admiral, I remain astonished that you put this book on a reading list and recommended that every sailor in the United States read it. I’m also surprised that you said you read it. But I’m also glad you brought up those points. The Department of Defense undertook the stand-down because they understand that extremism detracts from military readiness. So if sailors accept Kendi’s argument that America and the United states navy are fundamentally racist, as you’ve encouraged them to do, do you expect that to increase or decrease morale and cohesion or even recruiting into the United States Navy?

Gilday: I do know this. Our strength is in our diversity, and our sailors understand that. Racism in the United States is a very complex issue. What we benefit from is an open discussion about those issues. That we don’t try to ignore it or 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 fact from fiction, agreeing or disagreeing with Kendi in this case, and come to hopefully very useful conclusions about how we ought to treat each other in the United States military.

Banks: Admiral, why did you put this book on the reading list and recommend that every single United States sailor read it?

Gilday: Because I think it’s really important to consider a variety of views —

Banks: Admiral, you read this book. What part of this book is redeeming and qualifies as something that every United States sailor should read it?

Gilday: I think Kendi’s self-critical of his his own journey as an African American in this country, what he’s experienced…”

Banks: Let me ask you again, Admiral: Do you expect that after sailors read this book that says that the United States is racist that we will increase or decrease morale, cohesion, and recruiting rates into the United States Navy?

Gilday: I think we’ll be a better Navy from having open, honest conversations about racism.

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