Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri on Thursday evening sent a letter to Adm. Michael Gilday expressing concern about the inclusion of the following books on the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP) reading list: Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist,” Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” and Jason Pierceson’s “Sexual Minorities and Politics.”
“All three books reinforce the view that America is a confederation of identity categories of the oppressed and their oppressors rather than a common homeland of individual citizens who are united by common purposes and fidelity to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution,” Lamborn and Hartzler wrote to Gilday.
A Navy official told Fox News that while not every viewpoint expressed in the books on the CNO’s reading list is endorsed by the CNO or the Navy, exposure to varied viewpoints improves the critical thinking skills of its sailors.
The congressional Republicans concluded their letter by requesting Gilday pull all three books from the CNO-PRP reading list; “verify” that the books are not being “issued, taught or otherwise endorsed at any Navy training or academic institutions.” In addition, they ask to “confirm” the Navy’s stance on the idea that the U.S. is systemically racist; and “confirm” the military branch’s opposition to “race-based discrimination.”
Their letter came several weeks after Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., a Naval Reserve officer since 2021, initially sent a letter to Gilday on Feb. 26 arguing that the views promoted in “How to Be an Antiracist” on the CNO-PRP reading program are “explicitly anti-American” and called on Gilday to explain the Navy’s decision to include it on the CNO-PRP list or remove it.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., delivers pizza to members of the Delaware National Guard in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
“The views promoted in ‘How to Be an Antiracist’ are explicitly anti-American. According to Kendi, the author, America is fundamentally racist, so anti-Americanism is a moral imperative,” Branks wrote in his letter. “… Cohesiveness and unity in our armed services is essential. Kendi’s ideas are divisive and will undermine morale and weaken our national security.”
Banks then called on Gilday to provide him “with a written response explaining how ‘How to be an Antiracist’ cultivates a culture of warfighting excellence,’ or remove ‘How to be an Antiracist’ from the CNO-PRP Reading List.”
“The Navy has received the letter from Reps. Lamborn and Hartzler, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, will respond directly to them. We appreciate the Representatives’ concerns regarding this issue,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, the spokesman for the Chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement.
“How to be an Antiracist,” was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller during the summer of 2020 and has been adopted by some schools and educators, gives advice on how people can be explicitly “antiracist,” as opposed to not racist. The book “promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society,” according to the author’s website.
“The New Jim Crow,” which also appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, discusses mass incarceration in the U.S. and compares the country’s current criminal justice system to Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation across the country until 1968. The book aims to tell “a truth our nation has been reluctant to face,” the book’s website says.
“Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” considers how people who identify as sexual minorities in the United States are represented and involved in their communities, according to a description on the Barnes & Noble website. It is “the first textbook to provide students with an up-to-date, thorough, and comprehensive overview of the historical, political, and legal status of sexual and gender minorities,” the description reads.
All three lawmakers, who are members of the House Armed Services Committee, make a similar argument that these books undermine faith in the United States and its institutions.
Sales of anti-racism books including “How to Be an Anti-Racist”; Robin D’Angilo’s “White Fragility”; and Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” surged in popularity over the summer after George Floyd‘s May 25 death in police custody in Minneapolis — an event that sparked protests across the country and calls for both ordinary Americans and large corporations to take steps toward promoting antiracism and racial equity.