WEST POINT, N.Y. — A retired U.S. lieutenant general who made comments denigrating Islam withdrew Monday from speaking at a West Point prayer breakfast after a veterans’ advocacy group asked the Army chief of staff to rescind the invitation.
VoteVets.org told Gen. Raymond Odierno in a letter that allowing retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin to speak at the U.S. Military Academy next week would be contrary to Army values and disrespectful to Muslim cadets.
Late Monday afternoon, West Point issued a brief statement saying Boykin had decided to withdraw speaking at the Feb. 8 event and that another speaker would be lined up in his place.
Boykin, a former senior military intelligence officer, had been criticized for speeches he made at evangelical Christian churches beginning in January 2002. He said that America’s enemy was Satan, that God had put President George W. Bush in the White House and that one Muslim Somali warlord was an idol-worshipper.
In a statement issued earlier Monday, Reed noted that Christian, Jewish and Muslim cadets would be participating in the prayer breakfast, and she had expressed confidence that Boykin’s speech would “be in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets.”
Boykin has continued to attract controversy since his retirement. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and People for the American Way had asked officials in Ocean City, Md., to rescind an invitation to speak at a prayer breakfast last week. Boykin attended and spoke about his faith.