Racism in the US military did not exist before Biden took power, GOP senator Tom Cotton claims

·2-min read
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) questions Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Pentagon's budget request, on Capitol Hill in Washington (REUTERS)
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) questions Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Pentagon's budget request, on Capitol Hill in Washington (REUTERS)

Racism in the US military did not exist before Joe Biden entered the White House, Republican senator Tom Cotton has claimed.

The Arkansas lawmaker made the bizarre suggestion as he questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black American to hold the position, about “woke ideology” in the military.

Mr Cotton, a former Army captain and graduate of the Ranger School, told a Senate hearing that he and congressman Dan Crenshaw had received “several hundred whistleblower complaints” from whistleblowers.

“Mr Secretary, we’re hearing reports of plummeting morale, growing mistrust between the races and sexes, where none existed just six months ago, and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone,” said Mr Cotton.

“And again, these are not my words. These are the words of your own troops.”

Mr Cotton then asked Mr Austin to give him a yes or no answer on whether he believed that the US military was a “fundamentally racist organisation.”

“I won’t give you a yes-or-no answer on that, senator, because it deserves more than a yes or no,” replied Mr Austin.

“The military, like any organisation, will have its challenges, but I do not believe it is a fundamentally racist organisation.”

The senator again cut off Mr Austin and asked if the US military treated individuals differently “based on their sex or the colour of their skin.”

“Again, this question deserves more than a yes-or-no answer,” replied Mr Austin.

“I do not believe that, and that is why we have diversity, equity, and inclusion focus in the military.”

Mr Cotton then told the Defense Secretary that the military has “for decades has been one of the institutions in this society where you are most likely to get ahead based on your own performance, on your own merit, irrespective of the colour of your skin or where you came from or who your parents were.”

Mr Austin agreed and added, “I am an example of that” before being cut off again by the politician.

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