After an outcry from veterans, cadets and progressive groups, Jerry Boykin has withdrawn from West Point’s National Prayer Breakfast. Boykin, who was formally reprimanded by President George W. Bush for describing military efforts as a holy war against Islam while in uniform, became a fulltime anti-Muslim activist since leaving the military. People For the American Way president Michael Keegan criticized Boykin’s “hate-filled conspiracy theories,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations knocked Boykin’s promotion of “a host of false and misleading ‘facts’ about Islam” and VoteVets maintained that Boykin’s views are “inconsistent with current Army doctrine” and “disrespect the services of thousands of Muslim-Americans” who serve in the ilitary. Erick Eckholm of the New York Times reports:
Lt. Gen William G. Boykin “has decided to withdraw speaking at West Point’s National Prayer Breakfast” on Feb. 8, said a statement issued Monday by the academy’s office of public affairs. “In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the United States Military Academy will feature another speaker for the event.”
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.”
Right Wing Watch has documented Boykin’s long history of making inflammatory statements. Boykin has claimed that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment” and said that Muslims are “under an obligation to destroy our Constitution”:
He has also said that mosques should be banned in America and dubbed Islam “a totalitarian way of life” during an interview with far-right talk show host Bryan Fischer:
Moreover, Boykin has urged Christians should not engage in interfaith dialogue with Muslims and should instead “go on the offensive” against Islam. He has even directed his vitriol at President Obama, comparing him to Adolf Hitler and warning that he is using the health care reforms law to create a personal Brownshirt army:
With his extremist comments now receiving national attention, Boykin is now trying to disguise his views, calling Muslims a “precious people” and insisting that he respects “their right to worship.” But Boykin may have trouble walking back from his past incendiary statements as he once proudly proclaimed: “I am intolerant!”