‘Hold the Line!’: Why the Military Must Repudiate Radical Politics

America finds itself in a culture war. While one side lives in a fundamentally flawed and systemically racist country pitting oppressors against the oppressed, the other side sees an exceptional country, guided by the wisdom of the founders, where individual responsibility and hard work still determine success. The gulf between the two sides is only growing.

Yet, even amid these vast disagreements, one hopes we can still agree on one thing: Politics, and the larger culture war, should not be imposed on our military. 

The reasons are easy to grasp. Our nation’s military has one core mission—to win the nation’s wars. Anyone who has worn a uniform for any length of time understands that trust, unity, and cohesion are essential ingredients to a winning team—especially in the military. Anything undermining those elements should be identified and eliminated with all haste. Today’s divisive political theories easily meet this criterion. 

When it comes to group trust, unity, and cohesion, today’s radical political theories—critical race theory (CRT), social justice, antiracism, white-privilege, the “1619 Project,” and the like—are no different than the radical theories of yesterday: Marxism, Communism, and white supremacy. By sowing the seeds of distrust, grievance, and discord, they all work to divide. 

In this respect, a professor teaching CRT to cadets at a military academy can be likened to a neo-Nazi teaching white supremacy. They are both divisive, destructive, and not based on sound social science. They also undermine the military’s meritocracy by fomenting distrust and doubt about fellow servicemembers’ competence reflected through promotions and advancements. If that weren’t enough, they even cast doubt on the worthiness of the country the military is sworn to defend. Nothing but damage can possibly flow from this.

Our country has spent decades successfully creating a cohesive military from a diverse population. Over my 31 years of service, I never witnessed a significant racial or gender controversy in any unit with which I was associated. Unfortunately, this is changing quickly. 

In the last several years, one side of the culture war has been actively injecting its politics into our military. The examples are compounding daily; a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy recently bragged about teaching critical race theory, a required briefing to new cadets at West Point included a slide addressing their “white privilege,” a political science course at West Point contains “the explicit premise that the American political system embeds inherent racial, gender, and sexual inequalities,” an Air Force lieutenant colonel was recently fired for writing a book exposing the indoctrination happening around him, a group of Air Force cadets warned other cadets to “be careful, you never know who is listening” when asked about the problem. These are only a few. Unfortunately, there are hundreds more examples. 

We have been good at keeping the neo-Nazis out of the military. Unfortunately, in our national confusion about race, and our heartfelt desire to embrace diversity, we have allowed the neo-Marxists in. And as everyone knows, the first goal of a Marxist has always been to destroy the existing system. They must be stopped before they destroy our military. The stakes for the nation are too high. Like good soldiers under attack, we must hold the line!  

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About Chris Petty

Brigadier General Chris Petty is a retired army officer, a graduate of West Point, and a decorated combat commander. He is the creator of the Battle Digest historical series, and currently serves as a vice president of the non-profit organization Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services, Inc. (STARRS).