FIRST ON FOX: Two veteran Republican congressmen are demanding answers from the heads of West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) regarding a event they say ‘encouraged partisanship,’ promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and bashed conservative lawmakers.
Republican Reps. Michael Waltz of Florida and Jim Banks of Indiana sent letters to U.S. Military Academy (USMA) and USAFA superintendents Lt. Gens. Steven Gilland and Richard Clark regarding the event, and a cadet’s question to a panel at the USMA’s Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference.
At the August 30 conference, a USAFA cadet in uniform reportedly asked how DEI teachings can be ‘safeguarded’ by U.S. military academies and their cadets. The cadet also ‘spoke contemptuously of Members of Congress for performing their constitutional oversight duties,’ according to Waltz and Banks.
‘So, the United States Air Force Academy has a diversity and inclusion minor that teaches classes on gender, race, and nationalism in the class, and these teachings have been incredibly controversial across the U.S. with an outright ban in Florida and the superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy being questioned for it in Congress and the video going viral,’ the cadet asked, according to a report of the incident.
‘Can cadets and service academies safeguard the teachings of these topics, or, if we get a particularly bad batch of congressmen, are these teachings like, screwed?’ the cadet said.
Banks, the chairman of the Anti-Woke Caucus and the Military Personnel Subcommittee, told Fox News Digital he disagrees ‘with the cadet’s remarks,’ but sees ‘why he thought they were appropriate, given he made them at a left-wing political conference.’
‘The issue is that the U.S. Military Academy is hosting partisan, DEI events in the first place,’ Banks said.
In the letter, Waltz — the chairman of the House’s military readiness subcommittee — wrote that the conference ‘was hosted by USMA and attended by personnel from the U.S. Air Force Academy, USMA, U.S. Army officers, U.S. Air Force officers, as well as USMA faculty, civilian professors, Veterans Affairs staff, NASA staff, and professional DEI speakers.’
The congressmen noted the audio recording of the cadet’s question and wrote that, per ‘the recording, the crowd in attendance erupted in laughter at the cadet’s comments, and it is not apparent that any senior officer attempted to correct or counsel the cadet, nor did anyone take the opportunity to educate the group of cadets regarding civilian oversight of the military or the constitutional duty of elected officials to conduct legislative oversight.’
‘As veterans, we find USMA and the U.S. Air Force Academy’s apparent acquiescence of demeaning statements aimed at Congress troubling and emblematic of the increasing politicization of our academies,’ the Republicans wrote.
‘The apparent failure of any senior officer to correct the highly inappropriate behavior of scorning lawful, civilian authorities amounts to turning a blind eye to conduct that could be a violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ,’ they continued.
Waltz and Banks added that ‘the recording reinforces and validates the statements of a number of cadets who have reached out to our offices over the last several years.’
The congressmen wrote that some cadets as well as their families ‘feared that voicing a dissenting opinion’ on DEI or critical race theory teachings ‘even in an academic setting or seminar’ will lead to ‘mockery by their peers, faculty, and would be detrimental to their fledgling military careers.’
‘As we discussed during a Congressional hearing this year, I hope you will ask yourselves as commanders, why these cadets are so uncomfortable sharing their concerns with their chain of command,’ the Republicans wrote.
The congressmen also torched USMA’s DEI speaker selection for its annual conference, writing that the speakers, ‘as well as the nature of the conference itself, suggests that USMA fostered an environment that encourages partisanship.’
‘One of the speakers on the panel titled ‘Diversity in National Security: Views from Academia and Practice’, Dr. Nakissa P. Jahanbani, has a history of divisive public statements,’ the lawmakers wrote, pointing to social media posts from the speaker attacking former President Trump.
Reps. Waltz, Banks letter U… by Houston Keene
‘On social media, she has blamed the ‘rise in anti-black, immigrant hate’ on former President Trump’s ‘bigoted opinions’ and stated that ‘white identity and grievances,’ explain his political success,’ the lawmakers wrote.
‘Another participant on that panel, Dr. Rachel Yon, has published ‘classroom exercises’ based on the work of Derrick Bell, who has been described as the ‘Godfather of Critical Race Theory.’ A third member of the same panel was Zainab Ahmad, a former federal prosecutor who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s very controversial investigation into the Trump campaign, the premise of which was later discredited by the Durham report.’
‘Given the example that has been set at an official USMA event, it’s not surprising that a cadet felt it acceptable to attack elected officials while in uniform,’ the lawmakers added.
The lawmakers asked the superintendents if the cadet in question was counseled ‘on appropriate references to elected officials while in uniform’ and if the academies ‘condone the highly partisan statements of the conference’s guest speakers.’
Banks and Waltz are currently investigating race-based admissions to military service academies — which was a controversial exclusion in the Supreme Court’s recent overturn of race-based affirmative action in college admissions.
Though she appears on a schedule prepared prior to the event, Ahmad told Fox News Digital that she ‘did not attend the conference,’
Neither the USMA and USAFA nor the rest of the speakers highlighted by the congressmen in the letter immediately responded to Fox News Digitals’ requests for comment.