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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Navy refuses to remove 'anti-American' woke books from sailors' reading list despite Republican concerns about politicization of the military

 The US Navy has said it will not remove some of the books included on its 2021 reading list after several Republican members of Congress complained about their content.

Three books on the list have been criticised for promoting what the members describe as 'anti-American' views and reinforcing the view that the United States is divided 'the oppressed and their oppressors'. 

Fox News reported that Admiral Michael Gilday said he would not be making any changes to the list in a letter to Indiana Republican Jim Banks. 


Banks wrote to Gilday on February 26 claiming that one of the books on the list - Ibram X. Kendi's How to be an Antiracist - promoted 'explicitly anti-American' views and urged the admiral to explain the Navy's decision to include it on the reading list or remove it.

Gilday explained the value of the book in a March 12 letter obtained by Fox News, saying: '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 the Navy's sailor to achieve the same degree of 'self-reflection'. 

In the same letter, Gilday said that some of the books included on the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP) 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.'

The US Navy has said it will not remove some of the books included on its 2021 reading list after several Republican members of Congress complained about their content. Pictured: US sailors look on as they stand aboard the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill while it anchors in Port Sudan on March 1 [File photo]

The US Navy has said it will not remove some of the books included on its 2021 reading list after several Republican members of Congress complained about their content. Pictured: US sailors look on as they stand aboard the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill while it anchors in Port Sudan on March 1 [File photo]

'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.

'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.'    

Banks, who serves in the US Navy Reserve as a Supply Corps officer and was sent to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015, told Fox News in a statement that Gilday's response 'shows he is not serious.' 

'We face an existential foreign threat, and our military is desperate for serious leadership,' the congressman said.  

Ibram X. Kendi's book offers advice on how to actively combat racism
Jason Pierceson's textbook provides and overview of 'the historical, political, and legal status of sexual and gender minorities' in the US
Michelle Alexander's book examines the phenomenon of mass incarceration in the US

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction by Jason Pierceson and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness by Michelle Alexander were all the subject of complaints by Republican members of Congress

Kendi's book was not the only title on the reading list to raise eyebrows among Republican members of Congress.

Gilday also received a letter from Representatives Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri on March 11, expressing concern about the inclusion of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow and Jason Pierceson's Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction.

Both Lamborn and Hartzler also mentioned Kendi's book in their letter to Gilday.

'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,' Lamborn and Hartzler wrote.


Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL, expressed his disbelief over the titles included in the reading list on Twitter.

'I can't believe this is happening to the Navy I love: pushing overtly leftist propaganda on their OFFICIAL reading list, threatening the longstanding tradition of political neutrality,' he said. 'The Chief of Naval Operations needs to correct this.' 

A Navy official previously told Fox News that while not every viewpoint expressed in the titles on the reading list is endorsed by the Navy, reading works by writers with varied viewpoints improves the critical thinking of sailors.

Banks, Lamborn and Hartzler have previously raised similar concerns about books they feel undermines faith in the United States and its institutions, Fox News reported.   

A No.1 New York Times bestseller during last summer, How to be an Antiracist was widely shared on social media as a useful source for educators and individuals following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Floyd died after a police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. Chauvin is currently on trial for Floyd's murder. 

Admiral Michael Gilday said: '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. Pictured: US sailors abord the USS Winston S. Churchill in Port Sudan [File photo]

Admiral Michael Gilday said: '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. Pictured: US sailors abord the USS Winston S. Churchill in Port Sudan [File photo]

The book gives advice on how people can take action to actively oppose racism and promises to 'become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society,' Kendi's website says.

The New Jim Crow also appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. It compares the US's current criminal justice system to Jim Crow laws that enshrined racial segregation until 1968 by examining the phenomenon of mass incarceration. 

Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction is a textbook which provides an overview of 'the historical, political, and legal status of sexual and gender minorities' in the US, according to the publisher's website. 

Nearly 200 years ago, the Navy ordered its ships to be outfitted with a reading list of 37 books in order to help train and educate sailors.

This grew to become the CNO-PRP reading list which has a motto of 'Read Well to Lead Well' and is divided into four subject areas: readiness, capabilities, capacity and sailors

Each category is split into foundational, advanced and capstone levels, with a total of 53 books. 

There is also a suggested reading list comprised of 21 titles. 

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