Updated on May 7, 2016
Well, it looks like controversy has come to West Point yet again. The college that hasn’t beaten Navy in a football game in 14 years is investigating a group of cadets about to graduate because of this photo uploaded to social media.
Critics of the photograph claim that the photo paid homage to the Black Lives Matter racist movement that is responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in damage to property and calling for the deaths of police officers and white people. The image shows a group of women with their fists raised in a manner that hearkens back to the days of Malcomb X and the Black Panthers.
Initially, I wasn’t buying the Black Lives Matter connection, but when I saw the spin being put out there I changed my tune. It because painfully obvious that it was a Black Lives Matter tip of the hat when they claimed this:
“These ladies weren’t raising their fist to say Black Panthers. They were raising it to say Beyoncé,” said Mary Tobin, a 2003 graduate of West Point and an Iraq veteran who is a mentor to some of the seniors and has talked with them about the photograph.
“For them it’s not a sign of allegiance to a movement, it’s a sign that means unity and pride and sisterhood. That fist to them meant you and your sisters did what only a few people, male or female, have ever done in this country.”
That’s gotta be the dumbest excuse for a controversy I’ve heard. BEYONCÈ?! Really? I call BS.
The military has long done everything possible to squash political activism in its ranks. My last few years in the military was spent fighting Army leadership over my 1st Amendment rights and other activism. First, I was fighting the Army over my right to petition government for redresses when I was going up against the Huntsville School District uniform policy. Most recently, it was my efforts to defend 2nd and 4th Amendment rights in Texas. The commanding general even put out a memo that in effect told troops that they must surrender identification “any time” a cop asks for it, even if there was no suspicion of a crime being committed. I filed a congressional complaint against the CG, which resulted in him refusing to sign my retirement award.
The problem here isn’t the sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter…er, Beyoncè. The problem was that it was done in uniform. Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 is very clear that members of the military “express a personal opinion on political…issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.” It says that troops may participate in political activities, including protests, as long as “the member is not in uniform and does not otherwise act in a manner that could reasonably give rise to the inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.”
So, really, this is where the real rub is. I don’t care if our troops support Black Lives Matter, the KKK, the NRA or Moms Demand Action as long as they don’t violate the rights of others, but doing so in uniform is a definite no-go. No one should be punished raising their fists for Beyoncè who raised her fist in support of Black Lives Matter. They should be punished for doing so in uniform.