DefSec Austin: Military Focused on ‘Extremism,’ Won’t Define It

DefSec Austin: Military Focused on ‘Extremism,’ Won’t Define It

June 23, 2021

At a hearing on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied that critical race theory is being spread within the military, and claimed that the military is focused on countering “extremism” —  but he wouldn’t define it.

Asked if he supported critical race theory (CRT), Austin lied and said the Pentagon did not teach or embrace it and that such suggestions were “spurious.” Fact check: they are not spurious, and Austin is in fact urging sailors to embrace CRT.

Asked then why he hired “critical race theorist” Bishop Garrison as his top adviser on diversity at the Pentagon, Austin responded that was the first he had heard of Garrison being a “critical race theorist.” Again, this is an evasive answer. Austin is skirting around what CRT is actually about. He wouldn’t have hired Garrison if they didn’t see eye-to-eye on America as embodying structural racism.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who said she had sent two letters to Austin asking him how the Pentagon defines extremism without any response, asked him directly: “Does the Department of Defense have a clear definition of extremism?”

Austin said, “We are focused on extremist behavior. Not what people think or political ideas or religious ideas, but extremist behavior.” This is another non-answer. The word “extremist” itself begs the question, extreme what?

“So, do you have a definition of what extremism is? And what the behavior is?” Hartzler asked.

Austin didn’t even pretend to answer the question. “Again, we’re focused on behavior,” he repeated.

Hartzler asked how he ordered an entire day to do training on extremism without having a definition.

“The purpose was to–to–to help–to have a discussion with–with our troops and our leaders on the issue extremism,” he said. “And that was very productive. And–and, again, we were focused on those behaviors that don’t–that are not in congruence with–with our values in the military.”

Asked if someone’s support for former President Donald Trump could be viewed as “extremism,” Austin again did not answer the question. “As I said earlier, this is not about politics. I went our troops to–to–to participate in our political system. That’s what they’re fighting to defend and–and I will also say that–that we will continue to be a diverse–a diverse and inclusive organization. And that’s what the United States military is all about.”

The fact that Austin believes the U.S. military is “all about” diversity and inclusion reveals everything that he wouldn’t say in his non-answers.

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