The U.S. Navy has said it will not remove certain books from its recommended reading list after Republican lawmakers raised concerns about their “anti-American” content.
On Feb. 23, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday released the latest version of the Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP), which provides a regularly updated list of recommended books as part of the Navy’s effort to help develop the professionalism of all sailors.
Most of the current 48 CNO-PRP titles cover topics relevant to the Navy’s mission of building a fighting force capable of winning wars, including leadership development, fleet tactics, history and geopolitics of the world’s maritime powers, and technologies of future naval warfare.
However, the admiral’s list also includes books that are overtly political, namely “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi, “Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” by Jason Pierceson, and “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who served in the Navy Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015, took issue with the inclusion of those books. In his Feb. 26 letter to Gilday, he argued that Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist” promoted “explicitly anti-American” views and urged the admiral to remove it.
Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) expressed similar concerns, noting in a joint letter to Gilday that sailors pledge to defend the U.S. Constitution, yet these CNO-PRP titles portray the United States as a nation that is racist at its root.
“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,” the Congress members wrote in a Mar. 11 letter obtained by Fox News.
“These works fall under the rubric of critical race theory, a racial form of Marxist philosophy which should not be allowed to poison our military,” they added.
In response to Banks, Gilday explained the decision to include Kendi’s book in the CNO-PRP list, saying in a Mar. 12 letter obtained by Fox News: “It evokes the author’s own personal journey in understanding barriers to true inclusion, the deep nuances of racism and racial inequalities.”
Gilday added that he wants all Navy personnel to achieve the same level of “self-reflection.”
In the same letter, Gilday said that some of the books in the reading list came from recommendations from Task Force One Navy, which he contacted over the summer in order to “identify and remove racial barriers, improve inclusion efforts, create new opportunities for professional development and eliminate obstacles to enter the Navy.”
“While I do not endorse every viewpoint of the books on this reading list, I believe exposure to varied ideas improves the critical thinking skills of our sailors,” Gilday wrote, reported Fox News. “My commitment to them is to continue to listen, make sure their voice is heard, and make the Navy a shining example of an organization centered on respect, inclusive of all.”
Published in 2019, “How to be an Antiracist” is a New York Times bestseller that teaches people to actively identify and oppose racism in almost every aspect of their daily life, in order to form a “truly just and equitable society,” according to Kendi’s website.
“Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” is a textbook that provides an overview of the “historical, political, and legal status of sexual and gender minorities” in America, according to the publisher’s website.
“The New Jim Crow,” another New York Times bestseller, examines an alleged institutional racial bias that disproportionately keeps black people in prisons, and likens the current American criminal justice system to the historical Jim Crow codes, which legalized racial segregation across the American South.