The prestigious West Point military academy has opened an inquiry after 16 black female cadets posed for a photo with fists raised in militant style. The pose struck by the cadets, dressed in their gray uniforms while standing on the steps of barracks in late April, is seen by some critics as an implicit show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and thus a potential violation of a Defense Department rule against “partisan political activity.” West Point seeks to portray itself as a melting pot that brings together talented students from across the country, without regard for racial or ethnic differences, for elite training as future military leaders. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Kasker, a spokesman for the academy in New York state, confirmed that the cadets were members of the current graduating class. “Academy officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter,” he said on Saturday. The young women were following a longtime tradition at West Point, where soon-to-be graduates each year strike stern and straightlaced poses in historic style much as their predecessors have done for more than a century. But instead of raising their sabers to the sky, as they did in another photo without controversy, the black student-officers sparked a mini-tempest by raising their fists at a school with a predominantly white and male student population. Some active-duty officers and army veterans have complained that the pose seemed to violate Pentagon rules on avoiding political activity by paying tribute to the black nationalism of the civil rights-era Black Panthers group or to the militant tone of the present-day Black Lives Matter protests against police abuses.
That’s exactly what this crap was. Shame on these cadets who participated in this brazenly militant, black-racist, offensive gesture. As the son of a West Point grad, and having been a “field grade” Army officer myself, this is the kind of poor character that brings discredit not just on themselves, but on the otherwise great institution that is West Point. Those who participated should be allowed to get their BA or BS from West Point, if they’ve completed their studies. But, they should get a General officer letter of reprimand put in their files, and not allowed to cross the stage with their fellow cadets….as a minimum. Whether or not they’re allowed to keep their commissions as officers should be on the table. West Point needs to take that kind of hard stance against this to let others know that such behavior is NOT tolerated at West Point, or anywhere in the Army. Period.