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Navy won’t remove ‘anti-American’ books from reading list

Several Republican members of Congress voiced concerns about some of the books included on the Navy’s 2021 reading list, but Adm. Michael Gilday said he is not making any changes.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., a Naval Reserve officer since 2021, initially sent a letter to Gilday on Feb. 26 arguing that the views promoted in Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist” on the Chief of Naval Operations Professional Reading Program (CNO-PRP) are “explicitly anti-American” and called on Gilday to explain the Navy’s decision to include it on the reading list or remove it.

Gilday responded to Banks in a March 12 letter obtained by Fox News saying he included Kendi’s book on the CNO-PRP list because “it evokes the author’s own personal journey in understanding barriers to true inclusion, the deep nuances of racism and racial inequalities.” He added that he wants the Navy’s sailors to achieve the same level of “self-reflection.”

Banks 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.

Gilday also said in his letter that some of the books on the CNO-PRP reading list were recommendations from Task Force One Navy, which he contacted over the summer “to identify and remove racial barriers, improve inclusion efforts, create new opportunities for professional development and eliminate obstacles to enter the Navy.”

Ibram X. Kendi, director of Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research.
Rep. Jim Banks argued that ideas in “How to Be an Antiracist,” written by Ibram X. Kendi (pictured), are “explicitly anti-American.”
Steven Senne/AP

“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. “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.”

Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri on March 11 also sent a letter to the admiral expressing concern about the inclusion of  “How to be an Antiracist,” as well as Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” and Jason Pierceson’s “Sexual Minorities and Politics.”

“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 to Gilday.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a Navy SEAL, also tweeted about the reading list on Sunday.

“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 books on the CNO’s reading list is endorsed by the CNO or the Navy, exposure to varied viewpoints improves the critical thinking skills of its sailors. 

“How to be an Antiracist” was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller during the summer of 2020 and has been adopted by some schools and educators, gives advice on how people can be explicitly “antiracist,” as opposed to not racist. The book “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,” according to the author’s website

“The New Jim Crow,” which also appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, discusses mass incarceration in the U.S. and compares the country’s current criminal justice system to Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation across the country until 1968. The book aims to tell “a truth our nation has been reluctant to face,” the book’s website reads.

“Sexual Minorities and Politics: An Introduction” considers how people who identify as sexual minorities in the United States are represented and involved in their communities, according to a description on the Barnes & Noble website. It is “the first textbook to provide students with an up-to-date, thorough, and comprehensive overview of the historical, political, and legal status of sexual and gender minorities,” the description reads.

Banks, Lamborn and Hartzler, who are members of the House Armed Services  Committee, make a similar argument that these books undermine the faith in the United States and its institutions.


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