Rep. Eli Crane (R-Arizona) labeled non-white Americans who served in the U.S. military as “people of color” in a shocking moment in the House of Representatives Thursday, prompting a sharp rebuke from the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Crane, a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, submit an amendment On Thursday, he passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which would prohibit the consideration of “race, sex, religion or political affiliation, or any other ideological concept” in recruitment or promotion decisions, as well as other aspects of military affiliation.
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2021 to 2023, took the floor, arguing that the proposal would harm the rights enjoyed by people of color and women. Crane subsequently dismissed her arguments:
“While that was incredibly inspirational, my amendment has nothing to do with whether black people or black people or anyone can serve, okay?” he said. “What we want to preserve and uphold is that our military is not going to be a social experiment. We want the best of the best; We want to have standards that govern who is in which unit and what they do.”
“I hope my colleagues on the other side can understand what we’re doing,” he concluded.
Another person in the room is heard questioning the term “people of color” before Beatty intervenes.
“I would like to be recognized if the word ‘people of color’ were removed from the record,” she said. “I find it offensive and very inappropriate. … I ask for unanimous agreement to delete the words in which I or any of my colleagues are referred to as ‘people of colour’.”
Crane later requested that his comments be changed to “People of Color.” This motion was denied, but the words “colored people” were removed from the record without protest.
The Democrats were angry. The Congressional Black Caucus called Crane’s words “ruthless” and added it was a “shameful moment in the House of Representatives.”
“The GOP fights against diversity, equality and inclusion training and proves every day why it is necessary,” the group said wrote on twitter.