Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, a former Army officer who now spends his time spreading Islamophobic propaganda and anti-government conspiracy theories, canceled his plans to speak at West Point last night after a veterans’ group expressed concern about his views. People For has been following Boykin’s career since his retirement from the military, and has caught him on tape expressing some of his most outrageous views, including that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment,” that there should be “no mosques in America,” and that President Obama is using his health care reform legislation to create a Hitler-style brownshirt army.
Boykin got into hot water about his scheduled West Point appearance shortly after provoking controversy in Maryland over his appearance at the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. People For brought Boykin’s history of bigotry to the attention of Ocean City officials and called on them to disinvite Boykin. They didn’t, but the media attention on Boykin's appearance made for an uncomfortable situation for its organizers, and shed light on Boykin’s undeniable extremism.
Using People For’s research and building off the Ocean City controversy, last week the veterans’ group VoteVets called on West Point to revoke its invitation to Boykin, saying “his views are inconsistent with the values of the Army as an institution.VoteVets’ request was quickly joined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and dozens of West Point cadets, faculty and alumni.
The New York Times interviewed some of those who were concerned about Boykin’s speech, including a cadet concerned about the message the invitation would send to Muslim cadets, and People For senior fellow Peter Montgomery, who attended the Boykin event in Ocean City:
A fourth-year cadet at West Point, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals for breaking military discipline, said in a telephone interview before the cancellation was announced that “people are definitely talking about it here.”
“They’re inviting someone who’s openly criticizing a religion that is practiced on campus,” he said. “I know Muslim cadets here, and they are great, outstanding citizens, and this ex-general is saying they shouldn’t enjoy the same rights.”
The cadet asked, “Are we supposed to take leadership qualities and experience from this guy, to follow in his footsteps?”
A similar controversy erupted last week, in the days before General Boykin spoke at the mayor’s annual prayer breakfast in Ocean City, Md. The general made no inflammatory statements about Islam, instead describing how prayer had helped him through dangerous military operations.
But Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, said the West Point invitation was a mistake. West Point, Mr. Montgomery said, would have given “a platform to someone who is publicly identified with offensive comments about Muslims and about the commander in chief.”