Onward, Marxist Soldiers: Critical Race Theory Comes to the Pentagon

Photograph Source: Jeanne Menjoulet – CC BY 2.0

The US armed forces are chockablock with Marxists. If you don’t believe me, ask Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier of Space Force.  Better yet, read Colonel Lohmeier’s new book Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military.

Until May 14, Col. Lohmeier headed the 11th Space Warning Squad at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado.  He was relieved of his command in May after appearing on the conservative podcast “Information Operation” (May 7, 2021) during which he warned of the growth of Marxism in the armed forces in the guise of Critical Race Theory.  A spokesperson for Space Force said that Colonel Lohmeier’s demotion was prompted by “loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead.”  (Translation: the guy’s a nut.)  Lohmeier’s future in Space Force is now uncertain.

Prominent Republicans blasted the decision to remove Colonel Lohmeier from command.  Congressman Matt Gaetz (yes, that Matt Gaetz) tweeted that “Lt. Col. Lohmeier is a Patriot telling the truth about the attempted wokeification of our military—and worse.  His demotion is clearly retaliatory.’”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) invited servicemembers who have heard the US slandered as a white supremacist nation to contact him.  Let’s hope Senator Cotton has better luck than Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX).  Crenshaw‘s own appeal for “whistleblowers” bearing horror stories about “woke culture” in the US military was met with derision.  Internet trolls tweeted Crenshaw with “complaints” based on Army movies like A Few Good Men (“I think my base commander may have ordered a ‘code red’ to kill a fellow marine….  When I confronted him about it, he told me that I ‘could not handle the truth.’”).

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What does Colonel Lohmeier mean by Marxism?  Have Communist cells sprung up inside the armed forces?  Do Pfcs from Arkansas stay up late poring over the Grundrisse?

It turns out that Colonel Lohmeier and other conservatives aren’t really talking about Marxism at all.  They are talking about the latest front in the Culture Wars:  Critical Race Theory, which Lohmeier assures us is “rooted in Marxism.”  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks for all Republicans when he says: “Critical Race Theory says every White person is a racist.  Critical Race Theory says America is fundamentally racist and irredeemably racist.”  Cruz told the conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition that Critical Race Theory is “every bit as racist as Klansmen in white sheets.”  Cruz described CRT as a “theory that derives from Marxism”; but whereas classical Marxism is based on the idea of irreconcilable class conflict, CRT’s jumping off point is irreconcilable race conflict.

Any resemblance between Cruz’s description of Critical Race Theory and the real thing is purely coincidental.  What is Critical Race Theory really?

Kimberlé Crenshaw, the UCLA and Columbia law professor who is one of the founders of Critical Race Theory, describes it as a tool for understanding how slavery and Jim Crow created “patterns of inequality” which persist to this day.  Critical Race Theory examines how societal institutions like law—even laws which appear racially neutral—perpetuate racism.  Racism is systemic, and not solely ascribable to the bigotry of individuals.  Professor Crenshaw says that “[t]he point of Critical Race Theory, quite frankly, is to understand the problem in order to intervene in it.” Critical Race Theory aims not to replace White supremacism with Black supremacism, but to eliminate racial inequality altogether.

Extremists in the Military: They’re Not Marxists

Colonel Lohmeier is right that there are political extremists in the US military.  He’s wrong in thinking that they’re Marxists or Critical Race Theorists.  The extremists are White Supremacists and neo-Nazis who join the military to pick up training in weapons and combat.

Active duty servicemembers were among the chino-clad mouth breathers at the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Current and former military also participated in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.  According to Talia Lavin, writing in the New Republic: “An estimated 13 percent of arrests in ongoing law enforcement operations against the insurrectionists have snagged veterans or currently serving soldiers, about double their share in the population at large.”  The Department of Defense admits that it has no idea how many troops are right-wing extremists.  What we do know is that ‘Sweeping investigations by HuffPost, USA Today, and the Associated Press have uncovered dozens of open extremists in the ranks.”

Among them is the co-founder of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division who served in the Florida National Guard.  Investigative journalism group ProPublica obtained chat logs from an online fascist discussion forum, Iron March (now happily defunct).  Asked by a fellow Atomwaffen member whether he was afraid his Nazism would be uncovered, he replied.  “I was 100% open about everything with the friends i [sic] made at training,” he replied.  “They know all about it.”  He added: “They love me too because im [sic] a funny guy.”[1]

Top off the list of military extremists with General Michael Flynn, briefly President Donald Trump’s first national security advisor.  Following the 2020 election, General Flynn hyped martial law as a dandy way to keep President Donald Trump in power.  Earlier this year, General Flynn told a QAnon conference in Dallas, Texas that the US needed a military coup like the one in Myanmar.  But hey, it’s Marxists and Critical Race Theorists we need to worry about.

How Systemic Racism Works

Lohmeier thinks racism is not much of a problem in today’s military.  “[D]iscrimination in the military is infrequent,” he writes (131-32).  However, two experts on the US military, David Barno (a retired lieutenant general) and Professor Nora Bensahel of American University disagree.  They note that “racism and discrimination remain extensive problems in the U.S. military, even as tolerance for their most blatant expressions has declined.”

The US armed forces are far from being the meritocracy Colonel Lohmeier believes they are.  Barno and Bensahel write that “a vicious circle keeps sizable numbers of African-American officers from reaching the highest ranks of the service.”  Most top brass come from the military’s combat branches.  Beginning around the recession of 1981-82, Black enlistees gravitated to the military’s support arms which seemed to promise civilian jobs following military service.  This has created an “ever-smaller bench” of Black officers available to rise into the highest ranks.  Black personnel get stereotyped as more suited to support positions.  Thus, even Black officers who do serve in the combat branches get passed over for promotion.  And as the combat branches become Whiter they become more attractive to White supremacists and less attractive to Black servicemembers.  This is what is meant by systemic racism.

Colonel Lohmeier is not a conscious racist like the haters in Atomwaffen and Boogaloo, but he wears the blinders that living in a White-dominated society gives a White person.  Lohmeier quotes a lieutenant colonel on Facebook that because he is Black and gay, he has had to work “twice as hard” as White officers.  Lohmeier is incensed: “Put another way, he avers that Whites work only half as hard as he does to achieve the same outcomes” (157).  That’s mot what the gay Black colonel is saying.  He is describing the unfairness he has experienced in the military due to his race and sexuality.  He is not insulting White people.  Lohmeier, though, can’t see that.

.…But the Song Remains the Same

In one of the chat logs ProPublica obtained, an Atomwaffen cadre wrote that he spent his service in Afghanistan “blasting ‘lead into sand niggers [sic].’”  Who was it who sent him there?  Who ordered him to kill people of other races?  It wasn’t Atomwaffen or the Proud Boys or Boogaloo.  It wasn’t any neo-Nazi or White Supremacist group.  It was those fine folks in the Pentagon who fret about diversity and racial inclusivity.  Meanwhile, the US Empire goes on as ever, regardless of how many diversity and inclusion talks the troops receive.  But it’s not OK to bomb villagers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen just so long as the bomber pilot is a person of color.

I will close with a passage from the 1619 Project which captures the whole point of Critical Race Theory:

American history cannot be told truthfully without a clear vision of how inhuman and immoral the treatment of black Americans has been. By acknowledging this shameful history, by trying hard to understand its powerful influence on the present, perhaps we can prepare ourselves for a more just future.

Notes.

[1]  OFFICE OF THE UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PERSONNEL AND READINESS, REPORT TO ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEES ON SCREENING INDIVIDUALS WHO SEEK TO ENLIST IN THE ARMED SERVICES, p. 15 (Mar. 2021).

 

Charles Pierson is a lawyer and a member of the Pittsburgh Anti-Drone Warfare Coalition. E-mail him at Chapierson@yahoo.com.

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