West Point Cadets’ Raised Fists

West Point Cadets’ Raised Fists

West Point Cadets’ Raised Fists

Nearly two decades ago, Judge Judy Sheindlin wrote a book entitled “Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining”. That was the first thing that came to mind when I first saw the “apologia” regarding the black, female West Point cadets’ clenched fist photo. That, and the quote attributed to Groucho Marx: “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?” More and more often, we are being told that we must not believe what we see or know or else we are racists, homophobics or whatever.

The female cadets have been defending themselves on social media like Yik Yak since the photo first went viral. Below, behold the photo in question.

Clenched Fist photo
Clenched Fist photo

According to the UK Guardian, the female cadets are being investigated ahead of the May 21, 2016 graduation for possible violations. What violations? Why would the female cadets be investigated for raising a clenched fist in a photo?

The Army Times interviewed Greg Greiner, a partner with Tully Rickney law firm and military law expert. According to Mr. Greiner:

The women may have run run afoul of West Point’s Honor Code, or Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, said Greg Greiner, a military law expert and partner at the Tully Rinckey law firm.

Even if the intent was not to make a political statement — for example, if “group think” set in or the cadets were just “messing around” — they could still be in trouble, Greiner explained.

“My experience with military justice and the way discipline is handled, is that intent doesn’t always matter 100 percent,” he said. “Sometimes the actions themselves are enough to bring discredit.”

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, cadets could face charges of conduct unbecoming an officer, Greiner said. It depends on how much leadership felt “good order and discipline” had been violated, if at all.

“Leaders have a duty to say to themselves, do we want to create a problem for these young female officers that they’re going to have for the rest of their careers?” he said.

And, here is the New York Daily News video take on the photo:

The poor little dears. They are girls. They can’t be expected to have like judgement or think two steps ahead or anything.

Brenda Fulton, a 1980 West Point grad interviewed for the Army Times story goes for the exacta in the Diversity Derby and lists racism and sexism.

But would Fulton, a former Army captain and long-time diversity advocate for the military, have tweeted the raised-fist photo?

“I would not have re-tweeted the raised-fist photo because I am well aware that our culture views a black fist very differently from a white fist,” she said. “I knew it was their expression of pride and unity, but I am old enough to know that it would be interpreted negatively by many white observers. Unfortunately, in their youth and exuberance, it appears they didn’t stop to think that it might have any political context, or any meaning other than their own feeling of triumph.”

So, we are racists. No, ma’am. I disagree. I would have found a bunch of white female cadets with a clenched fist offensive.

But, they are just girls, according to Miss Fulton:

Fulton knows some of the women personally.

“When I spent time with these cadets and heard them tell their stories and laugh and joke with each other, there’s no doubt in my mind how much they love West Point, they love the Army and they support each other.”

Because the United States Military Academy at West Point is just like a four year sleep over.

That the taxpayers are paying for….

Brenda Fulton, because she can, goes for the Diversity Derby trifecta. It’s the American public’s fault.

She does not criticize academy officials for launching an inquiry.

“West Point is America’s college. If there is a public uproar, however ill-motivated, the leaders feel their responsibility to the public is to get all the facts,” she said.

Public uproar. Ill-motivated. You evil taxpayers. Grr. How dare you questions black female cadets’ intentions.

Mary Tobin, a 2003 West Point graduate completes the circle. Interviewed for the Guardian article about the investigation, she claims the little dears had no idea that anything was going on in the outside world.

Tobin said she had spoken to the cadets. Immersed in the insulated and demanding environment of West Point, she said, they did not anticipate how their gesture would be interpreted and the attention it would draw.

Wait. What? These sixteen female cadets managed to go through four years without reading a newspaper or Google or Buzzfeed. How do you go through a prestigious Service Academy without one discussion of current events. These potential future leaders had no idea of the Black Lives Matters movement. These future second lieutenants don’t know the historical context of the clenched fist. The Assyrian connection. The Communist connection. The Black Panthers connection.

Did they learn anything in four years? I want my money back. I paid for their education and they didn’t get one.

And, as for racism, Miss Fulton. If I were a racist, wouldn’t I find the original photo that you tweeted out more threatening? Black female cadets with swords!

Black Female Cadets with Swords
Black Female Cadets with Swords

I think the above photo is Fierce! I love this photo. It has so much pride and personality.

But, no, in order to fulfill the agenda being pushed on us, you and I must be told that it is our eyes that are deceiving us. The warm liquid running down our legs is rain.

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  • GWB says:

    “Sometimes the actions themselves are enough to bring discredit.”

    No. The actions are always enough to bring discredit. That is the whole point of that portion of the UCMJ.
    From Article 134:

    all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces

    (emphasis added)

    in their youth and exuberance

    Ummm, they are seniors, yes? Heck, even sophomores at a military academy are supposed to be more mature than your average college senior.

    how much they love West Point, they love the Army…

    If they don’t know what “love” means, then I don’t care how much they think they “love” the Academy or the Army. And I’m betting (based on most of the generation today) they don’t have a clue that “love” is very different from “a very strong form of ‘like’ for my own purposes”.

    I would have found a bunch of white female cadets with a clenched fist offensive.

    I wouldn’t. The whole point of the upraised, clenched fist is the context. It derives from a “black power” idea – which is not, and never has been about actual equality. And white women doing it just wouldn’t have the same context.

    I want my money back. I paid for their education and they didn’t get one.

    More importantly, these women are going to go out there and be in leadership positions for all of you who have sons and daughters enlisted in the Army. I want my money back; I paid for their supposed turning into the steel core of the US Army, and I didn’t get that.

  • Pete Rzeminski says:

    [From a West Point Graduate, fellow US Army buddy, to me] “As a West Point graduate myself, I’m sure you are not surprised that I had already seen it (more than once). Earlier today, I received a note from another West Pointer, who asked me if I had seen it, and what was my reaction. I have edited this slightly, but the message is essentially the same…for what it’s worth, I thought I would share it with you…

    “Yes…I saw the picture. My initial reaction is that this is “much ado about nothing”…

    First of all, there is NO WAY these 16 first class cadets get expelled (as a handful of self-proclaimed judges would sentence them to) less than two weeks before graduation. Unless there is a significant “rest of the story” (which I doubt there is), expelling them would be a gross over-reaction. This was NOT an honor violation, nor an egregious offense punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. At most, this appears to be an unintended error in judgement on their parts. It’s my understand this was just one of several “Old Corps” style pictures taken in front of those old barracks by this group, not uncommon in past years….or like some of the company pictures taken back in our time. Holding their fists up was the error in judgement on their part, regardless of what their intent was…much like cadets holding up their arms in an extended fashion, that might appear to be similar to a Nazi salute, or grabbing their crotches, or other gestures with their hands or arms (or fingers) that some might find offensive. There are certain gestures that carry a certain meaning (historically), regardless of intent. This is likely reprimand material, the strength of the wording consistent with what their message or intent was by holding up their fists for this particular picture in the first place. I’m sure they have already been asked that very question. I trust that the Academy will investigate this thoroughly, and quickly, and communicate a response in an effective manner, so that this doesn’t become a distraction to the graduating Class of 2016…including those 16 first class cadets in the photo.

    I have sat on many Congressional academy selection panels and continue to be impressed with the qualifications and the talent that all the academies attract. There are a number of talented candidates that DON’T get an offer of admission, from all different demographics. I often wonder whether I could even get in today, were I to have to go through the process again. This is a “teachable moment” for these soon-to-be Second Lieutenants, and I’m sure the lesson has already been learned. We should be celebrating their accomplishment (this photo notwithstanding), along with the rest of the West Point Class of 2016, for being less than two weeks away from their completing a long, arduous, 4 year journey to become commissioned leaders of character in the United States Army.”

    That’s my “two cents worth” on this business…”

    • Toni Williams says:

      Pete- tell your bud that I think expulsion is way harsh. Let them walk a few tours before graduation.

      What I find deplorable, as a woman, as the daughter of a Marine Sergeant and the mother of an Army Captain, is the excuses the women grads are making for them.

      They don’t know about the connotations of the raised fist. Puh leeze!


      • GWB says:

        the excuses the women grads are making for them

        That’s where the truly obnoxious part is. Unfortunately, based on personal experience, there are a few politicals who get into the Academies – the folks who see themselves as belonging to a grievance group, and therefore have to fight the PTB instead of working to become the best officer they can become. They see themselves as a symbol, rather than clay to be molded.

        • Toni S Williams says:

          Apparently, that is all these women learned at West Point how to become better grievance Warriors. They have no idea the purpose of West Point or any other Academy for Military College for that matter.


  • SFC D says:

    I pity the Soldiers that will have to function under these “leaders”. Actions have consequences. Stupid actions have painful consequences. “I didn’t know” is not a valid excuse. How did this group make it through 4 years of West Point and remain so ignorant, if not willfully?

    • Toni Williams says:

      SFC D

      I didn’t know was never a valid excuse in the household where I grew up. I hope these “leaders” do not end up anywhere near my Army Captain son. I have a feeling they will do the minimum service and get out.


      • SFC D says:

        These Cadets need 2 hours on the PT field with a couple of cranky old senior NCO’s. We’ll call it “mentorship”. I’ve got a few “teachable moments” for them.

    • GWB says:

      There is no excuse. That is (well, it used to be) the only valid initial response to a “Why?” query at the Academies: “No excuse, sir!”
      Only when asked to “explain” or the horrid construction “how come?” were you even allowed to do anything other than take responsibility.

      • Toni S Williams says:

        LOL. Six years after he graduated and my son’s favorite response is still quotation mark sir no excuse sir close quotes.


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