A forceful debate over the role of teaching critical race theory at military educational facilities broke out among members of the House Armed Services Committee, according to CNN.
The Wednesday night debate was touched off as Republicans attempted to include a ban on the concept as part of an annual defense spending bill, the news network said.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks of Indiana and Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, along with other GOP lawmakers, supported amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act. The sweeping defense bill sets spending levels and details priorities for the military.
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist. Progressives have insisted teaching critical race theory.
“Every single one of us in this room know that this is the greatest country in the history of this world,” Banks said. “Are we perfect? No. Is our history perfect? Of course not. But there’s nothing that comes close to what we have in America. And it is not sustainable to tell our troops anything otherwise. In fact, it’s dangerous.”
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida blasted critical race theory “a poison.”
“It otherizes our fellow Americans,” Gaetz said. “It is not what we need in our military, in our schools, in our lives or anywhere in a great nation.”
Meanwhile, Democrats pushed back at GOP attempts to include a ban on the concept in the defense spending bill, CNN said.
“We’ve sat here and debated critical race theory for one hour and 18 minutes,” said Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat from Virginia. “That’s two and a half times the 29 minutes that we spent on increasing the defense budget by $24 billion, an amendment that actually provides real deterrence to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Democrat Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada added: “We need to teach the truth about American history. All of American history, including slavery, including Jim Crow. And by being honest about our past, we can actually teach the hard truths about our country.”