A coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans has asked the Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to rescind retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin's invitation to the upcoming National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 8, saying the general's history of incendiary rhetoric regarding Islam and Muslims is incompatible with the values of the U.S. military.
In a letter addressed to Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon, the superintendent of the military academy, the members of the veterans issues organization VoteVets argued that the extremist remarks the now-retired Boykin is known for jeopardizes the armed forces' relationship with the Muslim community in the U.S. and abroad.
LTG Boykin has repeatedly characterized our war against al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, a war that we are both Veterans of, as a religious war pitting Christianity against Islam, wrote Jon Solz, an Iraq war veteran, and Richard Allen Smith, an Afghanistan veteran. The Pentagon Office of the Inspector General later found that LTG Boykin's remarks were improper for a military officer.
Boykin has made headlines for a series of inflammatory public remarks about Islam. In September, he suggested that Muslims do not have First Amendment rights because Islam is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life. In its appeal to West Point, the letter writers also added that Boykin allegedly claimed he captured terrorists while stationed in Somalia in the early 1990s solely because Muslims worship an idol.
It is counterproductive for our future Army leaders to hear the views of LTG Boykin, a man who's views are inconsistent with the values of the Army as an institution, the letter states. Not to mention, many Muslim Americans have fought and died in the uniform of the American Soldier in post-9/11 combat, as well as in previous eras.
Boykin was a featured speaker at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast in Ocean City, Md., on Wednesday, despite a vigorous campaign denouncing his appearance waged by People for the American Way and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. On Tuesday, the Baltimore Sun published an editorial in support of the campaign, writing that Ocean City officials needed to clearly [state] that religious bigotry has no place in a family resort town whose economy depends on making people of all races, religions and creeds feel welcome.
To read the full text of VoteVets' letter click here.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...