- Senate candidate Sean Parnell said that the military has been “colorblind” for “almost 200 years.”
- The military was not formally desegregated until President Harry Truman issued an executive order in 1948.
- On Fox News, Parnell railed against critical race theory, blasting it as a divisive discipline.
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For generations, millions of US soldiers have fought valiantly for the country, hoping to defend democratic freedoms across the world.
However, for much of the early 20th Century, the military was racially segregated, with its formal integration put into place by President Harry Truman in 1948.
During Friday’s episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News, Sean Parnell, a veteran and GOP candidate for the 2022 Pennsylvania US Senate race, had an intense discussion with host Tucker Carlson about comments made by Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, related to critical race theory.
At a Wednesday congressional hearing, Milley rejected the notion that reading about different ideologies or disciplines means that one endorses those viewpoints.
Critical race theorists have examined how America’s history of racism continue to reverberate through laws and policies that exist today.
“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned or non-commissioned officers of being, quote, woke or something else because we’re studying the same theories that are out there,” he said at the time.
He added: “I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open minded and be widely read.”
Carlson opined on the issue (starting at 3:25 in the video below), expressing that “from the outside in, the US military seems like by far the least racist institution in American life” and “has been for many decades.”
—The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) June 26, 2021
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Parnell was animated in his response to Carlson.
“It’s absolutely true,” he said. “We have been a colorblind culture in the United States military for almost 200 years. We’ve gotten a lot of things right. Keep your politics and your social experiments out of our military, and let us focus on what we were always intended to do — protecting the United States of America and winning wars.”
In 1948, Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which mandated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”
However, even in the early 1960s, Black soldiers continued to grapple with discrimination in the military, especially off base, according to a New York Times report.
Douglas Bristol, a history professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, told The Times that changes were “a very gradual thing.”
“Most bases are in the South,” he said. “You can train year round. The congressmen there get re-elected forever, so they have tremendous clout. And in the South, segregation is the law.”
The problems were so pervasive that in 1962 then-President John F. Kennedy summoned a President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces, also referred to as the Gesell Committee, to correct policies and deficiencies that continued to perpetuate racial discrimination.
Bristol told The Times that in the years since the turbulent 1960s, the military has become a leader on issues of equity.
“The commanders who were supporters of segregation, there’s just no place for them anymore,” he said.