Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff defends study of critical race theory

Gen. Mark Milley, the country’s highest ranking general, delivered a passionate defense of the curriculum at West Point in a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
2:23 | 06/24/21

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Transcript for Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff defends study of critical race theory
We turn to America's top general firing back at Republican lawmakers on capitol hill over what west point is teaching its cadets. Chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl has the latest. Jon, this was really something to see. Reporter: It sure was, Cecilia. In the face of an onslaught of criticism from Republican, the Pentagon's top leaders forcefully defended the military's approach to dealing with racism and extremism. On capitol hill America's highest ranking general weighed in on an emerging culture war responding to Republican congressmen who slammed the Pentagon's top brass over the curriculum at west point accusing the academy of embracing divisive theories on race pointing to one class in particular. The seminar that over a hundred cadets attended titled, understanding whiteness and white rage, taught by a woman who described the Republican party platform as a platform of white supremacy. This is going on at west point as we speak to our future military leaders. Reporter: Milley's response invoked the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. I do think it's important actually for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read and the united States military academy is a university and it is important that we train and we understand -- and a want to understand white rage and I'm white and I want to understand it. So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. Reporter: The general went on to say there's nothing wrong with studying controversial ideas, in fact, it's important. I've read Mao tse-tung. I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin. That doesn't make me a communist so what is wrong with understanding, having some understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officer, our commissioned -- noncommissioned officers of being, quote, woke or something else because we're studying some theories that are out there. Reporter: General Milley said it would be an especially bad idea to censure the study of America's troubled history on race. He said that understanding that, quote, matters to the discipline and cohesion of this military. Cecilia. Jon Karl, thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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