VoteVets, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, called on West Point to rescind Boykin’s invitation. “The presence of LTG Boykin at West Point would violate Army Values, as well as potentially be used as propaganda by the enemy and endanger our troops in combat,” Jon Soltz and Richard Allen Smith wrote in a letter to West Point’s superintendent.
In a statement issued to ThinkProgress, West Point’s Director of Public Affairs, Lt. Col. Sherri Reed, said the military academy stands by its decision to host Boykin and that the invitation is “in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets”:
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point prepares cadets to be leaders of character with honor and consideration of others. In order to produce effective 21st Century leaders for our Army, and our Nation, cadets are purposefully exposed to different perspectives and cultures over the course of their 47-month experience at West Point.
The National Prayer Breakfast Service will be pluralistic with Christians, Jewish, and Muslim cadets participating. We are comfortable and confident that what retired Lt. Gen. Boykin will share about prayer, soldier care and selfless service, will be in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets.
If those who have a degree of influence over Boykin do not speak up in protest, he will never understand that his views are wrong and hurtful. He could be better informed about Muslims and Islam if powerful organizations, institutions, and individuals help educate him, rather than giving sanction to his views.