16 cadets posed for an “Old Corps” historically-styled photo on the porch of one of West Point’s oldest barracks while in uniform. They raised their fists in what could be interpreted as a gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, or a whole host of other historical political activism in the U.S. Then a white guy found it and got them in trouble.
Former soldier and current professional fat-shamer John Burk posted the photo to his fitness blog under the title “Racism Within West Point.” It went semi-viral on Facebook, and, yes, he is calling the women racist. He writes:
The ladies before you are class seniors and have been making their voices heard more and more on an app called “Yik Yak” where users are kept anonymous, yet no one dares speak up in public against them due to them being accused of being racist and risk being expelled from the academy from[SIC] hurting someone’s feelings.
He signs off as Soldier of Steel. This is what that looks like, if you’re curious:
Burk is correct in one way, at least—these cadets are breaking the rules. In the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, it says active members of the armed forces “should not engage in partisan political activity” and that nonactive members “should avoid inferences that their political activities imply or appear to imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.”
Whether or not this matter would have come to the interested attention of West Point officials without Burk’s interference is hard to say, but Business Insider reports that they are now under investigation:
“We can confirm that the cadets in this photo are members of the US Military Academy’s Class of 2016,” West Point’s director of public affairs, Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, wrote in a statement emailed to the Army Times. “Academy officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter,” the statement continued.
Burk’s post ends with the question, “Are these the type of ‘leaders’ you want moving down to the line and leading your sons and daughters, graduates with an agenda?”
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