A retired U.S. lieutenant general who made comments some consider disparaging to Islam withdrew Monday from speaking at a West Point prayer breakfast after a progressive veterans’ advocacy group — VoteVets.org — along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the Army chief of staff to rescind the invitation.
Last week The Blaze reported VoteVets.org told Gen. Raymond Odierno in a letter that allowing retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin to speak at West Point next week would be anathema to Army values and disrespectful to Muslim cadets.
According to the Associate Press, late Monday afternoon, West Point issued a statement saying Boykin had decided to withdraw speaking at the Feb. 8 event and that another speaker would take his place.
For its part, CAIR is celebrating the outcome.
“We welcome Mr. Boykin’s withdrawal from this event and hope that the speaker who replaces him will offer cadets a spiritual message that promotes tolerance and mutual understanding,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a press release.
Awad added that CAIR has been challenging Boykin’s “un-American bigotry” for a number of years.
From The Blaze’s earlier report:
Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin was the Pentagon’s senior military intelligence official until 2004, when he was reprimanded for remarks comparing the war against radical Islam to a Christian struggle against Satan and for saying Muslims worship idols and not “a real God,” according to the Washington Post. He has also said he believes no mosques should be built in America and has called Islam “a totalitarian way of life.”
Boykin, an ordained minister who speaks around the country, was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a West Point prayer breakfast.
Boykin, who had at one point issued a written statement apologizing for past comments, said he didn’t mean to insult Islam. But VoteVets.org said Monday that Boykin has continued to make denigrating comments about Islam since his 2007 retirement.
“These remarks are incompatible with the Army values, and a person who is incompatible with Army values should not address the cadets of the United States Military Academy,” VoteVets chairman Jon Soltz said in a letter written with the group’s vice chairman.
West Point’s Lt. Col. Sherri Reed said cadets are “purposefully exposed to different perspectives and cultures” during their four years at the academy.
According to AP, Reed issued a statement earlier Monday noting that Christian, Jewish and Muslim cadets would be participating in the prayer breakfast, and that she was confident Boykin’s speech would “be in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets.”
CAIR had asked West Point officials to retract Boykin’s invitation:
“It gives Islamophobes a platform at the nation’s most prestigious military academy. And I doubt that they would invite a KKK speaker and claim that they want to expose the students to a variety of opinions,” said Awad.
Boykin didn’t return a call from AP seeking comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.