Ten House Republicans and Navy veterans, led by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), are demanding answers from Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on why it chose a sailor who is a drag queen influencer on the Chinese app TikTok as one of the service’s five “Digital Ambassadors” to help with recruitment.
In a letter sent to Del Toro on Tuesday, they wrote:
We write to express our grave concerns over reports that the United States Navy recruited a drag queen to join the ‘Digital Ambassador’ program to promote Navy recruitment on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influenced app, TikTok, which was banned from official devices by the U.S. Navy in 2019.
Despite facing what a Navy spokesperson describes as, ‘the most challenging recruiting environment since the start of the all-volunteer force,’ the Biden Administration’s Department of the Navy continues to implement radical, reckless, and woke policies that deter capable recruits from volunteering to defend this Nation’s freedoms.
As Navy veterans, we understand that a woke military is a weak military.
The signatories include GOP lawmakers and Navy veterans Clyde, Eli Crane (AZ), Andy Harris (MD), Dan Crenshaw (TX), Morgan Luttrell (TX), Mike Garcia (CA), Ryan Zinke (MT), Guy Reschenthaler (PA), C. Scott Franklin (FL), and Ronny Jackson (TX).
Their letter comes in response to the Navy recently confirming that it appointed an active-duty enlisted sailor who identifies as “nonbinary” as one of its first five “Digital Ambassadors” in a pilot program that ran from October 2022 to March 2023, aimed at recruiting from new pools of applicants.
The lawmakers noted that the sailor, Joshua Kelley, who goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels,” frequently posts videos on TikTok and Instagram accounts of himself switching from his Navy uniform to his drag queen costumes.
“Some of these alarming posts include captions such as “Hooyah, and let’s go slay,” as well as him posing half-naked accompanied by hashtags #navydragqueen’ and ‘#sailor’,” they wrote.
“As a 28-year Navy combat veteran, I’m displeased and greatly disappointed with the Navy’s decision to not only allow this individual to represent our heroic Sailors, but to promote his drag queen activities as part of the Navy’s recruiting efforts. Our servicemembers should be solely focused on maintaining the most deadly military force in the world, not dressing up in drag,” Clyde said in a statement.
The U.S. Navy recently confirmed that it used a “drag queen influencer” as one of its “digital ambassadors.” https://t.co/CusR7PDqRq
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 3, 2023
Although the Navy said ambassadors’ social media accounts must include a disclaimer that they are not endorsed by the Navy, Kelley’s frequent use of his uniform as well as his ambassadorship suggests Navy endorsement. The Navy also said it provides its ambassadors with social media guidance.
The lawmakers blasted the Biden administration’s implementation of woke policies across the U.S. military, which include opening the military to transgender individuals — many of whom require medical care, the Air Force Academy discouraging use of “gendered” language such as “mom” and “dad,” and allowing transgender soldiers to use barracks, bathrooms, and showers of their “gender identity” regardless of what genitalia they have.
They also blasted the Biden administration for defining transgender individuals as “qualified” while “simultaneously endorsing the now-repealed unconstitutional vaccine mandate that potentially put at least 75,000 troops at risk of discharge.” To date, at least 8,000 troops were kicked out involuntarily.
“One thing is clear, the continued embrace of woke ideologies in our Armed Services is unsustainable, and we insist you cease any involvement with drag queens in your future recruiting efforts,” they wrote.
The Navy recently hosted an “inaugural diversity, equity, and inclusion summit” for information warfare sailors. https://t.co/tzrYpInMC9
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 13, 2022
They demanded that Del Toro provide information on recruitment and the Navy’s selection of Kelley as an ambassador to represent the Navy and aid in recruitment by June 6.
Specifically, they asked for all documents and communications related to the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2023 recruiting goals and final recruitment numbers, the Navy Digital Ambassador Program and Kelley’s selection, as well as all taxpayer funds spent on implementing the program.
They also inquired about the effect of Biden’s transgender policy on the Navy’s recruitment efforts, and what the Navy is doing to combat its recruiting shortfall, as well as whether the service is operationally ready for a potential challenge from China over Taiwan.
“A woke military is a weak military, which is why it’s imperative that we rid our Armed Services of radical policies that both hinder recruiting and retention efforts and threaten our national security. Furthermore, Americans deserve to know if their tax dollars were used to fund this woke nonsense. I urge Secretary Del Toro to swiftly address this critical question, as well as deliver a comprehensive plan on how the Navy plans to improve its dire recruiting and retention crisis,” Clyde said.