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Banks Opening Statement at Military Service Academies Hearings

(Press Release) U.S. Representative Jim Banks (R-IN), Chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on admissions criteria and process, curriculum development, standards, and content, and impacts on thought and learning at the Military Service Academies.

Rep. Banks’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

I want to welcome everyone to this hearing of the Military Personnel subcommittee. Today’s hearing is focused on Admissions, Curriculum, and Diversity of Thought at the Military Service Academies.”

I want to thank our witnesses for being with us today. I hope this hearing provides an opportunity for our Members to have a productive exchange with our witnesses and provide answers to their questions.

First, let me say that I believe our Cadets and Midshipman are some of the best and brightest scholars and athletes our Nation has to offer.

Each year a small group of Americans enter the Military Service Academies knowing that their path will not be easy, that it demands sacrifice, and hard work, and, in the end, nearly a decade or more of service to their country.

And that is why we are all here today… To ensure that our Cadets and Mids are getting the first-class education and the elite military training that we need.

But I have concerns:

All of the Military Service Academies use Race as selection criteria.

As Justice Roberts said, only last month, when striking down affirmative action:

“Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it. And the Equal Protection Clause…applies ‘without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality”—it is “universal in [its]application.’”

I believe race-based admissions, in any form, violate the Constitution and the Military Service Academies must ensure immutable characteristics like Race, like Color, have no bearing on a candidate’s ability to tackle the rigors of the Military Service Academy.

It is for this reason that I am particularly proud of the House of Representatives’ work last week.

The NDAA bill we passed strongly affirms that admission to our Service Academies must be on the basis of selecting the best and the brightest, not on skin color or ethnicity.

We need the best and the brightest regardless of Race. Nothing else.

I am also concerned that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as theories—like Gender theory, Critical Race Theory, …the list is endless—have replaced a foundation of scientific facts and academic rigor.

Brand new Air Force cadets are taught “inclusive language:”

They are told to use: Parents/Caregivers/Guardians instead of Mom and Dad.

They are told to use: Partner instead of Boyfriend or Girlfriend

This would be laughable, if it wasn’t so dangerous.

Instead of being inclusive, it simply makes words meaningless…In fact, it undermines academic rigor and the pursuit of scientific truth in an Engineering School!

And at the Naval Academy, instructors learn how to create “safe spaces” for students to fend off “triggering” materials, protect them from “microaggressions,” and shelter them from violent words.

Never mind that these students may one day lead Sailors and Marines into battle—where there are no safe spaces and triggers send real bullets down range.

All of this—the inclusive language, the safe spaces, the microaggressions—may hide under a sheen of inclusivity.

BUT it is ACTUALLY an ideology which serves a purpose:

That is… to remake society according to ONE MORAL vision, where truth is malleable, words do violence, and the answer to one plus one depends on your identity, not reason and fact.

Finally, I am concerned about how a focus on Race, identity, and other DEI programs impact the education of our Cadets and Mids.

How can a Cadet (or even an instructor) express an opinion outside the accepted ideology without being afraid of ridicule or ostracization, or worse, being called a racist?

The news is replete with stories of professors not being sufficiently anti-racist or expressing an opinion outside the norm. Universities have websites dedicated to calling out students and professors on campuses for microaggressions, publicly shaming them.

I’m afraid that the Service Academies aren’t much different than these other elite Universities…where dissent has been silenced and the free flow of ideas—a hallmark of higher education—has all but ceased.

I am deeply concerned with the path our Military Service Academies are on…particularly if they continue to violate the Constitution and use Race as a factor in admissions.

I am also concerned about the future success of our Cadets and Mids, considering the focus on divisive Diversity programs that elevate the importance of identity over that of duty, honor, and service.

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