An interesting discussion took place online this week between the current Superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Lt Gen Richard Clark, and Lt Gen Rod Bishop (USAF, Ret), former Commander Third Air Force Europe. The issue is current Marxist instruction at USAFA.
General Clark’s letter is below, followed by General Bishop’s response.
Superintendent’s Letter Regarding George Takei’s Book
Our selection for this year’s ‘One Book, One USAFA’ program offers us an opportunity to continue our important dialogue on Diversity and Inclusion. They Called Us Enemy is a graphic novel memoir by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, with art by Harmony Becker. Many of us may know George Takei from his longtime television role on Star Trek as the character Hikaru Sulu, an officer aboard the USS (Starship) Enterprise. The memoir focuses on Takei’s childhood, and the experience of his family being forced from their home in California and into internment camps during World War II.
The story and art presented in this engaging work cover a wide variety of disciplines and will support productive conversations across our Academy throughout the year. It is a discussion of American history and important ethical and legal issues, and shares a war narrative from the viewpoint of a non-combatant. Mr. Takei is also a prominent spokesperson for LBGTQ rights, and shares a perspective in his story that I hope will combat the recent rise of violence against Asian-Americans. Beyond its discussion of any particular demographic, you will read about family values and adherence to democratic ideals in the face of arduous circumstances. My intent is that we enter fully into this and all narratives by under-represented groups, and develop a deepened understanding of what is at stake.
Our investment in reading this graphic novel together will support our mission to develop leaders for our Nation who understand our history, speak fluently to current events, and can think critically about shaping the direction of our shared future. Considering many different experiences and perspectives is critical to this effort, because it helps us to more effectively utilize our Nation’s greatest strength – its incredible diversity. I encourage all of our cadets, AOCs and AMTs, coaches, faculty, and staff to read this book and engage in the critical conversations it generates. Through this dialogue we can persist in our efforts to lift all voices and allow the fullest contributions from our entire, diversely talented team.
I enjoyed reading this compelling selection, and I hope you do too!
V/R Rich Clark
RICHARD M. CLARK, Lt Gen, USAF
Superintendent, U.S. Air Force Academy
Subject: Message to the Long Blue Line from the Superintendent/Today’s Jeep Trip and Emails
Rich, (Apologize for the length–takes a bit to explain)
I sure hope you are right about not breeding Marxists! However, if you ever have the chance to read Matt Lohmeier’s book, you would understand critical race theory and all of its tentacles (teaching history out of context, supporting BLM, etc) have deep roots embedded in Marxism (and it is very insidious!) .
It certainly appears from Professor Garcia’s Op Ed (and without seeing the entire course materials) she is teaching some history out of context (or I think we would have heard more about the class in her defense or in your letter to the Long Blue Line). Additionally, certainly the video training that was initially “required” of all appointees before they would be issued a travel certificate left an expectation that (as a retired three star told me) “you had better be a BLM supporter when you show up at USAFA!”
Philosophers couldn’t understand why the Marxist movement hadn’t taken hold in the West, so when the Communist Herbert Marcuse left the Frankfurt School in Germany to come to America to escape the Nazi movement in the 1930s, he and other philosophers progressed from Critical Theory through Critical Legal Theory to Critical Race Theory–using “race” instead of “class” to create the “oppressed” vs “oppressor” narrative Marx teaches us all that is the basis needed for revolution.
So if Professor Garcia is not teaching this aspect of and ABOUT Critical Race Theory in her classes or is not setting her “the constitution created inequality” in the context of the time in history and explaining the true history behind the 3/5 compromise, explaining that slavery was a disease that affected most of the world at the time, then she is in effect “indoctrinating”–something our SECDEF has said DOD is not doing. I have heard from many who would like to know the answer to that question and I would think you would want to as well. (If you do know, your letter to the Long Blue Line didn’t address it.)
On a related note–permit me to tell you a short story that also plays into this discussion.
On 9/11, I was the Chief Planner (J5) for USSOUTHERN COMMAND. Just before noon that day, because the building was under the MIA final flight path, out of an abundance of caution, the Combatant Commander ordered we evacuate the building. By the next morning, the FAA had grounded air traffic and we had to fight our way through FORCECON DELTA to get back into the HQ. Gen Pace had the Security Forces help out here, going up and down the at least 1/2 mile long line of traffic, picking out all the General Officers. By 0630 all 6 of us were all assembled in the Commander’s Conference Room and were told we had 24 hours to respond to a tasking from the Joint Chiefs–“What are your recommendations for winning the “Global War on Terrorism” ?
As the Chief planner for the command, I teamed with our J3 and we formed a Joint Planning Working Group and, if my memory serves me correctly, we came up with a number of suggestions–three of which (beyond assisting Colombia in the “War on terrorism at our front door” as we called it), that I will recount here:
#1. “It is our observation, although not in our “AOR” that the combatant commands are either “functional” commands or “outwardly” focused, looking to partner with and assist countries in their AOR. We recommend DOD consider standing up a Combatant Command with an “inward” focus–looking across DOD to coordinate DOD assets, work with the interagency, etc, to ensure the security of the US.”
Result: US NORTHERN COMMAND was stood up just over a year later on 1 Oct 2002
#2 “Although not in our “AOR”, USSOUTHERN COMMAND is told we are the foremost Combatant Command to work with and leverage assets of the interagency. We note there are literary tens of disparate agencies, bureaus, etc., across our government that have a “piece” of the pie of national security and intelligence. To promote better coordination and cooperation, we recommend DOD consider working with the interagency to potentially stand up a new Department with the focus of securing our homeland.”
Result: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was appointed as the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security in the White House just 10 days later and The Department of Homeland Security was stood up in Nov of 2002.
#3 “Although Mexico is currently assigned to the JCS, much of SOUTHERN Command’s mission is focused on trying to keep America safe from the invasion of drugs entering our country from our southern neighbors.
Working with our partners in the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the interagency, we have been successful in virtually eliminating drugs entering our country by air or by sea. The US border with Mexico, however, remains our “soft underbelly”. Drugs last year (2000) entering the US illegally killed over 30,000 Americans. (I might note last year–i.e., 2020, that number has climbed to over 93,000.)
Most of those drugs enter our country through the land border with Mexico. It seems plausible to USSOUTHERN COMMAND that those same routes, networks, and contacts could be used by terrorists wanting to do us harm–so again, although not in our job jar to do, we recommend DOD work with the appropriate agencies with border responsibilities and Congressional districts along our southern border, to prioritize requirements needed to secure our border, submit them into the Presidential budget and begin funding them to better protect our sovereignty and provide a higher degree of safety and security to our nation.”
Result: Border security is a tremendously political issue. Neither the Bush nor the Obama Administrations did much of anything regarding that recommendation. Our last President attempted to, despite fierce resistance from the left.
The entire “plan” and list of recommendations was approved by our then Combatant Commander and future CJCS, General Pete Pace, and also by the JCS.
Now enter the “One Book, One USAFA” book choice for the year.
George Takei is a known far leftist activist. Don’t take my word–just look as his Twitter feed!
As one executive at the Washington Examiner told me yesterday, “it is difficult to believe anything published by George Takei would be anything else other than propaganda.”
So you can imagine my surprise, Rich, not just with this EXTREMELY political book being the “one book” of all the books out there to be given to new cadets, I was, respectfully, also very surprised at your strong endorsement:
“Our investment in reading this graphic novel together will support our mission to develop leaders for our Nation who understand our history, speak fluently to current events, and can think critically about shaping the direction of our shared future. Considering many different experiences and perspectives is critical to this effort….I enjoyed reading this compelling selection”
Also, in your letter to the “Long Blue Line” this week, you wrote “Our foundation is solidly anchored in the apolitical support…”
Please see my attached screen shots of Takei’s book.
Page 197 is NOT apolitical! It paints the Trump administration policy of trying to secure our border in an extremely bad light as compared to the Obama Administration.
–It says NOTHING about the rationale behind the Trump policy–the same policy that USSOUTHERN Command advocated for 9/12/2001 (“to keep American safe again”) that was approved by the JCS.
–It says NOTHING that those cages were actually built during and for the Obama administration.
–It says or shows NOTHING about leftist resistance (especially in the courts) that were the huge draw for those people to leave their homes in the first place and try and enter our country illegally (the reason they were being held in those Obama-built “cages”)
–It says NOTHING about the present day policies which have resulted in the “Biden cages” (actually containers and other structures), babies being tossed over the wall, children left alone crying at the border, flying people who have broken the law and “skipped the line” all over our country at taxpayer expense, releasing people with COVID into the interior of our country and making coyotes and drug cartels richer.
NOTHING at all said about the US being well on our way to having 2 Million illegals enter our country this year–that is a fairly large city!
I am not anti-immigrant–I just want, and I would hope we would want every one of our cadets to want–the laws of our land respected. This book sends an entirely different message!
–It says NOTHING about people from now well over 100 countries that have been arrested (and then released) and have now entered our country illegally. It seems to promote “breaking the laws of the land” to be a good thing. Again, I don’t see how this supports our Constitution that says in its preamble “to provide for the common defense”.
Too many people just look at the Southern border issue through a lens of only immigration–those of us who have worked the issue, look at it through a lens of “national security.” Why spend all the money on Customs and Immigration officials at airports if we are just going to let people walk into or country?
–Nor does it address the present day policy that ties up Border Patrol agents taking care of a surge of migrants, making it much easier for the cartels to also smuggle in an increasing amount of illegal drugs, killing more and more Americans. (Let alone the thousands of “get aways”–who are they–do they mean us harm?)
Now if that is not bad enough, pages 200-201 carry the fake news story making it seem President Trump’s ban on some immigrants was all about banning Muslims. I will grant that our former President was not “artful” when he spoke about “banning Muslims until we figure out what the hell is going on here” while he was campaigning–we would also, to be fair, have to note that these comments were made in and around two mass shootings (the one in San Bernardino that killed 14 Americans and seriously injured 22 others in Dec of 2015 and the one in June of 2016 at the Orlando Pulse Night Club that killed 49 Americans)–both mass shootings were committed by Muslims.
When he became President and issued his executive orders on the topic however–upheld by the Supreme Court (which Takei mocks on these pages)–if we had an honest media we would all know those executive orders were aimed at countries that didn’t have sufficient processes in place to assure US officials of the background of those individuals.
They included countries like North Korea (mostly atheist), Myanmar (mostly Buddhist), Venezuela (mostly Catholic (99%)), Eritrea (half Christian) Tanzania (61 % Christian) and Nigeria–hardly a monolithic Muslim country. Our media, however, continued to push “the Muslim Ban” narrative and have much of America believing that is the case. Takei’s book furthers that false narrative–I would hope you wouldn’t think teaching falsehoods is “Academic Freedom.”
So again, respectfully, you have spoken about “balance.” You have told your graduate community you want to remain “apolitical”. You have told the “Long Blue Line” that you are “in pursuit of integrity” and you want to teach our next generations of leaders to “understand, not indoctrinate”…want to ensure cadets “understand our history” and can “speak fluently to current events”.
So who is teaching the truth, the FACTS, I have laid out here? Who is giving this radically different perspective than the ones promoted in Takei’s book, the appointee training video and Professor Garcia’s Poly Sci class, so cadets can make up their own minds about what is really happening? Or are we doing nothing and in effect, Indoctrinating?
For example, do we have any former Border Patrol Officials like perhaps Tom Homan (former acting Director of ICE) coming to share his site picture about the border with our cadets?
Shoot, even a former Chief Planner and Deputy Commander of USSOUTHCOM knows more about our southern border issues than George Takei and I would be happy to share my experiences–again, in the pursuit of integrity–and again, as a “balance against (what the Washington Examiner Exec told me regarding Takei’s book)–almost certainly “pure propaganda.” Contrastingly, I would speak from experience, having been to the border and discussed the issue with many countries involved. (I think we all can appreciate people use “propaganda” to “indoctrinate”)
In closing, reference your comment about not breeding Marxists: given my perspective as the former SOUTHCOM Chief planner and then Deputy Commander, I always thought of the border issue as a “national security issue” (not an immigration issue and not really a Marxist- related, issue). That said, the Epoch times this week had a different take–another good source with yet a different perspective to show cadets so they can “make up their own minds”, unless of course our beloved alma mater IS really trying to breed Marxists–perhaps without even realizing it?
Is the above a radical right perspective? I used to think so, but watching the related political initiatives now being discussed and in some cases pushed (pack the Supreme Court, pack the Senate (adding states whose Senators will vote Democratic given their demographic make up), doing away with the Electoral College, outlawing the filibuster in the Senate, pushing HR 1 etc.) I am not so sure. Should these come to fruition, we become a “one party” country–no longer a “republic” with allegiance to the law, but instead allegiance to only one party–seems like Marxism to me.
(The video above is certainly not as far “right” a perspective as Takei’s book is “far left”–there is a lot of truth in the Epoch Times presentation.) At least I have the time to read both sides and decide–unlike the impressionable young minds in your care.
Rich, as a grad who loves the institution we are both proud to call our alma mater, I strongly recommend you seriously consider “balancing” what you are “teaching to understand not indoctrinate” with some of these perspectives–otherwise, I think you can appreciate many will rightfully consider your actions are not matching your words and indeed USAFA is fully engaged in “indoctrination”–perhaps not realizing it–but indoctrination nevertheless. VR, Rod
PS. If you are truly interested in “balance”, Matt Lohmeier’s book would provide that. I strongly suggest you add Matt’s book to your reading list to be fair, balanced and induce critical thinking. It is so well documented!!!
Given the timing of Matt being relieved of command (and rumors emanating from the Dept of the Air Force), it seems Matt wasn’t fired because of the book he wrote, but because of an interview, so there shouldn’t be any controversy promoting his book for all to read.
So many grads have asked me this week–how can the Supt possibly justify selecting and endorsing for cadet and officer reading the Leftist propaganda in George Takei’s book but not cause or even allow similar distribution and endorsement of Matt Lohmeier’s book? (Believe me, I get no “commission” for advocating Matt’s book. :). )
I have read both books–Takei’s is misleading leftist propaganda, I would conclude (my opinion), based on my three years of working border issues while assigned to US SOUTHERN Command. Matt’s book is extremely well documented and reports the truth on what is happening by recounting the exact words and ideas written and expressed and actual experiences of our airmen.
Should you still be committed to not allowing “Academic Freedom” of cadets reading a best selling book written by a USAFA grad, then Mark Levin’s “American Marxism” would also give this balance. Also, ensuring all cadets see this article written by a former USAFA professor would also be a step towards “balance:”
Rod Bishop Jr Lt Gen USAF (Ret) President and Chairman STARRS (www.starrs.us)