On Feb. 8, 2012, the United States Military Academy at West Point is planning to host a National Prayer Breakfast featuring ret. Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, an individual who has a long record of issuing hate-filled rhetoric about Muslims.
Here’s what Boykin has said about Muslims in the past: there should be “no mosques in America”; Muslims worship an “idol”; “Islam is a totalitarian way of life, it’s not just a religion”; “it should not be protected under the First Amendment”; Muslims operate “under an obligation to destroy our Constitution.”
In the early days of the Iraq war, Boykin served in the Defense Department as a senior intelligence officer. Around that time, he appeared in full military dress at various churches, spouting bigoted rhetoric that casted the military conflicts as part of a religious crusade between Christians and the devil. In a 2004 report, the Pentagon Inspector General admonished Boykin for violating numerous internal regulations. “We recommend that the Acting Secretary of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to Lt. Gen. Boykin,” the report said.
VoteVets, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, released a letter today, asking West Point President to rescind the invitation to Boykin. Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Richard Allen Smith, an Afghanistan War Veteran, write:
As has been articulated by GEN Petraeus, [statements similar to Boykin’s] remarks threaten our relationships with Muslims around the world, and thereby, our troops serving in harm’s way. LTG Boykin’s values are inconsistent even with current Army doctrine that is taught at the Joint Readiness Training Center, National Training Center and the Combined Arms Center, which instructs Army leaders to respect the Muslim culture as a part of counterinsurgency operations. It is counterproductive for our future Army leaders to hear the views of LTG Boykin, a man whose views are inconsistent with the values of the Army as an institution. […]
Sir, as Veterans, we have the utmost faith in your leadership. As Veterans of these wars and men who have served in combat alongside Muslim Americans, we respectfully request that you retract LTG Boykin’s invite to the USMA Prayer Breakfast. 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.
Read the full letter here.
Just today, Boykin was scheduled to speak at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Ocean City, Maryland. People for the American Way and the Council on American-Islamic Relations had waged a vigorous campaign against his appearance.
The Baltimore Sun endorsed that effort this week, writing, “Make no mistake: This is not an issue of freedom of speech or of any of the constitution’s protections for religious expression that Mr. Boykin seems so eager to deny to those who don’t share his own Christian faith.” Boykin has every right to speak, but organizations that invite him “need to make clear whether they agree with Mr. Boykin’s views.” If not, they should not sponsor his hate speech.
We have contacted West Point to seek a reply, and we will post an update if we hear back.