Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz blasted Democrats during a House Armed Services Committee hearing focused on identifying and eliminating “extremism” among the ranks while arguing the panel should be more concerned about rising military threats from the nation’s adversaries.
Noting that his district has the highest concentration of active-duty military in the country, Gaetz began, “Respectfully, it is on their behalf that I would categorize this hearing as total nonsense.”
“Today, the Chinese Communist Party is building aircraft carriers and jets that every member of this committee knows threaten to close or eliminate the capability gap. North Korea is perfecting the ability to strike the United States with nuclear weapons. Cartels are hunting the next trafficking routes,” he began.
“And here we are hunting for, in the words of one of the witnesses, memes, and keywords,” he continued.
Today’s HASC hearing on “extremism in the military” is a total joke.
It is about nothing more than cancel culture coming for our military.
We ought to tread carefully because our fellow Americans do not take kindly to this type of tyranny. pic.twitter.com/ZOAFw0emvN
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 24, 2021
“Today, the House Armed Services Committee is engaged in a review of constitutionally protected expression by our troops,” Gaetz railed. “How utterly weak of us. No wonder the Chinese Communist Party continues to gain ground.”
The Florida Republican went on to claim that the real purpose of the hearing was to “gaslight” U.S. military members who “do not share pre-approved politics.”
“This is not about extremism. It is not about white supremacy. It as about woke supremacy,” Gaetz went on. “It is about converting the military from an apolitical institution to an institution controlled by the political left.”
The hearing was really an attempt to “get us to view our fellow countrymen and women who protect us as somehow ‘evil’, or ‘dangerous’, or a cancer that needs to exorcised,” Gaetz said, adding that the U.S. military is “the most diverse organization” in the country.
Pointing out that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said “99 percent” of men and women in uniform “believe in the oath that they swore to,” Gaetz said there is “a difference between weeding out bad apples who should be removed from the ranks and using the charge of extremism to stigmatize different opinions.”
“Increasingly, ‘extremism’ is a euphemism that Democrats are using when talking about conservatives, Republicans — and the group they hate most — Trump supporters,” he added.
Gaetz also blasted the Southern Poverty Law Center, an official of which was present at the hearing, as “a hate group,” noting that the organization once deemed the Family Research Council as such for opposing same-sex marriage. The SLPC’s designation, Gaetz continued, led to an armed attack at the Family Research Council’s headquarters in 2013.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center is a hate group,” Gaetz declared. “Today, we’re literally being lectured on extremism by a hate group.”
The Florida Republican wondered aloud if “having a Pepe the Frog meme” on a military member’s smartphone was now considered hateful, adding that “the FBI would rather investigate garage pulls” than Antifa or the attempted “firebombing” of a federal courthouse.
He added that the military in 2019 investigated cadets at an Army-Navy football game who were accused of making a racial “OK” symbol but were cleared when they were found to be “playing something called ‘the circle game.’”
“How long until Make America Great Again hats are considered an extremist symbol?” Gaetz said before noting that he had no questions for witnesses.
“Today, nothing more than cancel culture coming for our military and it is disgusting. It is about power and we ought to tread carefully because our fellow Americans do not take kindly to this type of tyranny,” he said.
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