The photo raises questions. These young women have been given an opportunity few in America will ever have: a West Point scholarship, followed by a commission as a U.S. Army officer. It is an education available nowhere else in the world–if they serve a minimum hitch, it costs them nothing–an education that is supposed to be governed by the values of duty, honor and country. The photo, therefore, raises questions.

Their collective bad judgment surely causes the well-informed person to suspect these young women were beneficiaries of affirmative action. If so, this would go a long way toward explaining their apparent lack of respect for themselves, West Point, the Army they supposedly seek to serve, or America. Recipients of affirmative action in non-military colleges are often under-qualified or unqualified, not only in academic ability, but in maturity and temperament. Some begin to think themselves entitled, immune to the standards and expectations of reality. Some think themselves, by virtue of their race, virtuous, superior to others.

One would like to think this is not the case. After all, all of these cadets are very near the end of four years of West Point. One would think those plainly unqualified have been identified and sent on career paths more suited their lack of ability and maturity long ago. But these days, particularly during the age of Obama, one cannot be certain they, like Barack Obama, have passed through august institutions based on their race and political leanings rather than on merit.

I grant this is an unlikely state of affairs for all of them. God help us if it is, and if they are allowed to enter the Army. Fox News explains: 

The U.S. Military Academy has launched an inquiry into a photo showing 16 black, female cadets in uniform with their fists raised, an image that has spurred questions about whether the gesture violates military restrictions on political activity.

West Point is looking into whether the photo broke any rules, Spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker said Saturday. It’s unclear how long the inquiry will take and too soon to say what consequences it could have for the cadets, who are poised to graduate May 21.

By campus tradition, groups of cadets often take pictures in traditional dress uniforms to echo historical portraits of their cadets. Indeed, a different picture of the same women, without the raised fists, was tweeted out by the chairwoman of the academy’s Board of Visitors, 1980 graduate Brenda Sue Fulton.

But the fists-up image, which circulated online, led some observers to question whether the women were expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of protests over police killings of unarmed black men.

Of course they are. Anyone that has paid attention to recent American history could recognize what the young women are doing as nothing other than a black power salute, adopted wholesale by the Black Lives Matter movement. Both manifestations of the posture are inherently racist, representative of a mindset that sees America as irredeemably racist, cruel, oppressive and unjust. They are sending an inherently political, racist message, one in direct opposition to duty, honor and country, one that spits in the face of the Americans that gave them a rare and invaluable opportunity, not only for an education, but to, while serving America, make an honorable career for themselves.

The Army Times, which first wrote about the photo Thursday, said several readers had written in to say they believed the cadets were breaching a Defense Department policy that says ‘members on active duty should not engage in partisan political activity,’ with exceptions for voting and certain other things.

Forget the potential breach of a policy. We’re talking about people that will, very soon, have responsibility for making decisions that will mean life or death for other young Americans. In the military, judgment is always a vital issue. Still, some will always try to explain away and defend the indefensible:

But Mary Tobin, a West Point graduate and mentor who knows the students, said they were simply celebrating their forthcoming graduation as a shared accomplishment, like a sports team raising helmets after a win.

‘It was a sign of unity,’ Tobin, a 2003 graduate, said by phone. ‘They weren’t trying to imply any allegiance to any movement.’ [skip]

‘Their frame of reference is: ‘Right now, we’re getting ready to graduate in three weeks, I’m standing here with my sisters …. We outlasted a lot of people, black or white, male or female,’ ” she said.

Let’s give Tobin the benefit of the doubt. There is no indication that she actually spoke to the young women, but let’s say she’s right and they were merely using a gesture any semi-sentient American should have recognized as one that, used by West Point cadets or any military member, could not help but to be thought racist and overtly political. But they didn’t mean it that way. It was just a celebration of hard work and sisterhood. Of course, to buy this, we must ignore the hard work of every other cadet graduating with them.

Any female officer must understand that she is going to have to be very good indeed to compete in the Army. This is true of any male officer. Any black female officer must understand that she must always represent herself as a professional, highly competent officer. That she is black is incidental. In the Army, everyone is green, or perhaps these days, desert tan.

These young ladies have, for all time, labeled themselves not as officers who happen to be black and female, but as black officers. If Tobin’s explanation is credited, they’ve also self-identified as black feminist officers.

What are the odds that each and every one of these young women simply decided to use the same abominably bad judgment at the same time and for the same supposedly benign purpose? Many people will believe they buy the black power/BLM ethic, an explanation easier to link with their behavior.

credit: mortkuff

credit: mortkuff

Lt. Col. Alan West, U.S. Army (ret.) has this to say: 

In any other times we could possibly just dismiss this as a very stupid move by these 16 female West Point Cadets, future U.S. Army Second Lieutenants. However, in the hypersensitive racial atmosphere created by the liberal progressive left, this has to be considered…and why? It’s simple, the obvious hypothetical question is what if these were 16 white male West Point Cadets from the south who took a picture in uniform with the Confederate battle flag? Yes, you know exactly what the story would be, and it would be plastered all over the mainstream media. And you know those white male cadets would be in serious danger of not graduating and receiving their commission as an Army officer.

So what shall be done, or better question, what should be done with these 16 female cadets who very soon would be leading our most precious asset, American sons and daughters?

Here’s my assessment. These young ladies must understand they’re part of a great lineage, one that began right here in Massachusetts at places like Lexington Green, Concord Bridge, and yes Breed’s/Bunker Hill. The call to arms and the ensuing answer from those men had to do with one thing: individual liberty and freedom. These young women carry on the legacy of Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point. All he wanted was to serve his nation and be an Army officer. Thanks to him, these women can be there at West Point, and I was able to become an Army officer. Someone needs to teach them a little history and get them to understand that lesson and see contriteness in their soul. Being in charge of men and women is not something to be taken lightly and momentary lapses of reason could result in their loss of life. That’s what someone needs to get the West Point 16 to comprehend.

Considering their political gesture, are they capable of understanding this? Are they willing? Considering lives are at stake, can we risk it?

Then they need to make a public statement of apology to their class, and to the United States Military Academy. They worked hard over the past four years to earn that degree and commission, but they need to come the realization of just how stupid their action was…yes, it was stupid. Why? Because the 16 female cadets will be called upon to lead, and leadership isn’t based on color. They’ll be leading Soldiers of all different backgrounds. Right now, you can bet their names are already known throughout the Army.

I’m sure Lt. Col. West is right about that. They’ve made themselves well known in a way no rational Second Lieutenant would desire.

Much depends on the Army’s response. As it stands, what white enlisted soldier would want to serve under one of these 16? Leadership in the military is based on competence and trust, and before they put on their first Army uniform, these young women have demonstrated they are untrustworthy.

Tragically, under the current administration, under the current Secretary of Defense, we cannot be sure this matter will be properly handled. At the very least, these 16 girls—they have not behaved as women—need to receive the kind of dressing down usually reserved for the most dimwitted recruits. If they were consciously making a racist gesture, they should be expelled. Any white cadets doing something similar surely would be. But if they were merely acting stupidly, their judgment is questionable, at best. The officers under whom they serve–black, white, male, female–must watch them carefully, and hold them to the highest standards of service and self-sacrifice.

They must be given a stark choice: behave as officers in the U.S. Army, with all that entails, or join their BLM brothers and sisters in the streets, setting stores on fire, looting, stopping traffic, and damaging police vehicles.

West Point, and the Army, need to learn which career path these young women want to follow, and take appropriate steps to either send them on their way into civilian life, in which case, they can pay back their scholarships in full, or to continue in the Army, under closer scrutiny than would be common for Second Lieutenants. They have, through their own actions, ensured that no one is going to trust them for a very long time–if ever.

If their actions were a harmless reflection of black, female pride, they need to understand that their actions do indeed reflect on their race and gender. One can’t pick up the black, female pride banner, rather than the Army officer banner, without picking up the baggage, expectations and responsibility that go with it.