Gen. Mark Milley says canceling drag show on military base ‘absolute right thing to do’

Mark Milley
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley holds a press briefing with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon on Thursday, May 25, 2023 in Washington. Kevin Wolf/AP

Gen. Mark Milley says canceling drag show on military base ‘absolute right thing to do’

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley agreed with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to cancel a drag show on a U.S. military base.

In an interview with CNN, Milley pushed back on accusations by Republicans that “woke” policies were posing a threat to military readiness. However, the general ceded that the military should not be hosting drag events on its bases, particularly if federal funds are used to do so.

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“And that, I think, is the absolute right thing to do,” Milley said, referring to Austin’s decision to cancel the show.

Drag shows “were never part of [Department of Defense] policy to begin with, and they’re certainly not funded by federal funds,” he said.

However, Milley pushed back on accusations that “wokeism” was infecting the military, saying, “A lot of this is misunderstood and mischaracterized.” He also said the conversation had been “exaggerated for whatever reasons.”

“I think the accusations of woke are grossly overexaggerated,” Milley told the outlet. “Every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine are out there focused on the mission, and the mission is to defend the United States, its people, our interests, and the constitution of the United States.”

Milley has clashed with congressional Republicans in the past, particularly on policies that push socially progressive initiatives.

The general got into a heated exchange in June 2021 with Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) over the teaching of critical race theory in the military.

“On the issue of critical race theory, etc., a lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is. But I do think it’s important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read,” Milley said. “I want to understand white rage, and I’m white.”

“I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, general officers, commissioned [and] noncommissioned officers of being ‘woke’ or something else because we’re studying some theories that are out there,” Milley added. “I’ve read Karl Marx, I’ve read Lenin; that doesn’t make me a communist.”

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Many Republicans did not take kindly to Milley’s remarks, holding them up as proof that the problem was significant.

“I’ve heard directly from numerous concerned parents, cadets, soldiers, and veterans about West Point hosting Dr. Carol Anderson, who has called the Republican Party’s platform white nationalism, to lecture about ‘whiteness and white rage’ and teaching [critical race theory]. As a combat vet, I can tell you this is divisive to unit cohesion,” Waltz said in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

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