Rep. Eli Crane Faces Backlash for Referring to Black People as ‘Colored People’ in Defense Policy Debate

House Representative Faces Backlash for Using Offensive Terminology in Defense Policy Debate

In a recent floor debate over a proposed amendment to an annual defense policy bill, Rep. Eli Crane, a Republican from Arizona, came under fire for referring to Black people as “colored people.” Crane’s choice of words drew a stern rebuke from former Congressional Black Caucus chair, Rep. Joyce Beatty. The incident took place as lawmakers discussed Republican-backed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, with Crane’s proposed amendment centering on removing factors like race, gender, and religion as considerations for recruitment, training, and promotion decisions in the military.

Crane, who is in his first term, clarified that his amendment had nothing to do with whether people of color or Black people could serve in the military. However, he argued that the focus should be on maintaining the military’s standards and not on diversity and inclusion. The 43-year-old combat veteran emphasized the need to address real threats and cautioned against lowering standards in the face of those threats.

Following Crane’s remarks, Rep. Joyce Beatty requested that the derogatory phrase he used be stricken from the record. Beatty found the term offensive and inappropriate, demanding that the words referring to her and her colleagues as “colored people” be removed. Crane then suggested amending his comments to “people of color,” but Beatty insisted on having the words stricken from the record, a move that was agreed upon unanimously.

Crane later released a statement, stating that he had misspoke during the heated floor debate and clarifying that his amendment aimed to prohibit discrimination based on skin color in the Armed Forces. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, when asked about Crane’s remarks, deemed them unacceptable but expressed his willingness to take Crane at his word, as he had never heard him use such language before.

The House ultimately passed Crane’s amendment in a 214-210 vote. However, the incident drew attention to broader debates on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the military. Beatty, 73, criticized the amendment for undermining the freedom to learn about and understand different cultures, as well as hindering the hiring process.

In a separate incident, Senator Tommy Tuberville, a Republican from Alabama, faced criticism for his refusal to acknowledge that white nationalism is inherently racist. When questioned about comments he made in May seemingly defending white nationalists serving in the military, Tuberville contended that not all white nationalists are racists, suggesting that they simply hold different beliefs.

While debates on diversity and racism in both the House and Senate continue, these incidents highlight the ongoing need for conversations and actions centered on promoting inclusivity and combating discrimination in the United States’ armed forces.