Y’all may not have been paying attention, but there’s been a very interesting tale of two military academies unfolding. One has made a stand and issued a decision based on principle. Another decided it wouldn’t, and in the end promotes blatant hypocrisy. I want to take the time to share this comparative assessment.
Last Saturday, we brought you the story of the West Point 16, black female cadets who, in uniform, took a picture with raised fists, symbolic of the black power salute. My recommendation was that a one-day immersion on why this wasn’t acceptable for a military officer with a public apology would suffice. I don’t know the disciplinary history of these young women. If this were another in a list of infractions, then this should be seen in a different light, a more egregious one, and the consequences more drastic. However, if this were the occasion of one stupid thing — and many lieutenants do stupid things — this could be a “teachable moment.”
However, it appears West Point has taken a totally different outlook. As reported by Fox News, “Sixteen black West Point cadets who posed with raised fists for a pre-graduation picture that sparked debates on race and proper behavior in uniform won’t be punished for the gesture, the U.S. Military Academy said Tuesday.
The decision, less than two weeks before the 16 female seniors are poised to graduate, found they didn’t violate military rules limiting political activity.
An internal inquiry found the cadets didn’t plan to make a political statement, West Point’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., said in a letter to the student body. But, he said, they showed “a lapse of awareness in how symbols and gestures can be misinterpreted and cause division,” and they will receive instruction to address “their intent versus the impact of the photo.”
The fists-up image, which circulated online, led some observers to question whether the women were expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of protests over police killings of unarmed black men.
But the inquiry found the picture, among several the women made in keeping with an informal campus tradition, captured a spur-of-the-moment gesture intended to demonstrate unity and pride in graduating, Caslen wrote. Groups of cadets often take Old Corps pictures in traditional dress uniforms to echo historical portraits.
A raised fist has symbolized political resistance for generations, from Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison in 1990 to Democratic Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on the presidential campaign trail this year. It was used by black power advocates in the 1960s, including by two American sprinters during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, and more recently by activists for the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Ok, call me a skeptic, but the last thing I think these young women were thinking about was Nelson Mandela or the American sprinters at the Mexico City games.
Now I didn’t attend West Point, so I’ll have to ask my friends who did about “an informal campus tradition, capturing a spur-of-the-moment gesture intended to demonstrate unity and pride in graduating.” On face value, that sounds like some bovine excrement only White House staffer Ben Rhodes could create.
You’d think a picture near one of the great statues of a West Point graduate would have been a matter of pride and unity – I’m sure there’s a tribute to the first black graduate, Henry O. Flipper, somewhere on campus. Or how about a picture with an American flag?
My point is this: do any of you believe such a simple dismissal would have happened if these were white male cadets gesturing something that was deemed “offensive?” And would it be a simple, inquiry board, and “no punishment?”
Heck, the DoJ Civil Rights Division would have been dispatched and those cadets would have their graduation suspended until an official report was delivered. What is for sure is this folks, everyone in the Army already knows who these sixteen soon-to-be second lieutenants are – that’s just how small the Army has become. They’ll enter active duty with a stigma already upon them. They’ll have to overcome that perception, and don’t give me the fairness crap – that’s how it works in the military. If these young women were smart, they would demand they be allowed to make a full apology. If not, no one in uniform will believe they learned their lesson. If anything, they’ll now believe their skin color provides them privilege and cover.
West Point blew this one…but down south, the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel, got it right.
Fox News reports, “The Citadel military college has decided a newly accepted Muslim student cannot wear her traditional Muslim headscarf if she enrolls.
The South Carolina school announced Tuesday that Commandant of Cadets US Navy CAPT Geno Paluso, Citadel graduate and Navy SEAL, decided that allowing the student to wear the head covering known as a hijab wouldn’t be consistent with the school’s policy of having cadets look similar.
The school in Charleston is known for its buttoned-up uniforms and close-cropped haircuts that represent the sacrifice of one’s self for the greater goals of the unit.
“Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model. The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college,” Citadel President retired Lt. Gen John Rosa said in a statement. The Citadel will continue to provide for any cadet’s spiritual needs when it can, such as providing special diets or time for prayer and driving cadets to their places of worship if they don’t have a car, Rosa said.
The president said he hopes the student, whose name and hometown have not been released, still attends The Citadel in the fall. But the woman will not attend the school unless there is a change, a spokesman for the family, Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday.
Hooper said the family is considering legal options after the school’s rejection. The names of the student and her family have not been made public.”
The Citadel made a stand and teaches the important lesson that unity is about the unit, not the individual. I’ve been to The Citadel, and there’s something amazing when you sit in the open chow hall or walk the campus and feel the traditions of institution. Yes, as with West Point, The Citadel had to be integrated with minorities and women — but the standards remain: uniformity.
I find it reprehensible that CAIR, the unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Islamic terrorist funding case in America, is talking about a lawsuit. Hey, Ibrahim Hooper, go indulge in strenuous self-copulation. But I can certainly see a future DoJ Civil Rights Division investigation being brought against The Citadel, which is not a federal institution, it is a state military college.
If this young lady wants to be a cadet at The Citadel, then she will be a cadet at The Citadel. Her religious beliefs will be respected, as was articulated, but she will conform to the unit – not have the unit conform to her.
And if that’s not acceptable, well, there are lots of other colleges and universities in America where she can wear her hijab — but it ain’t happening at The Citadel. Two military academies — you decide for yourself. But in my comparative assessment, West Point did not hit the target on this one.