May 20, 2016
Almost every day, FRC is defending the freedom of someone to live out their faith at work. But it’s not every day that the person is one of our own. When Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army-Ret.) retired from the military, he had no idea he’d still be fighting for the freedoms he spent 36 years defending. But at FRC, our Executive Vice President likes to say that he left the Army to join the culture war. And this week, that war came right to his front door.
For nine years, the young men at Hampden-Sydney College have been lucky enough to have this Delta Force hero teach them about leadership and ethics-- two qualities he’s spent his life demonstrating. As Fox News’s Todd Starnes said, Jerry Boykin is exactly the kind of man you’d want teaching your sons -- unless you’re a stark raving liberal. And after almost a decade of molding these boys into men, radical LGBT activists were desperate to get this solid conservative influence out of the classroom.
This week, they succeeded. Using a speech the General gave in Orlando (which was completely unaffiliated with his college work), the P.C. police sped into action, whipping up an unnecessary frenzy over comments Jerry made about the ridiculousness of gender-free bathrooms. Addressing the crowd about a serious issue facing our nation, the General said, “the first man who goes in the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery.” The intolerant Left saw an opportunity to pounce and took it. After pressuring Hampden-Sydney leadership with a string of complaints, college leaders caved and ousted the man who not only commanded all of the Army’s Green Berets -- but who served his nation with distinction for more than 36 years.
The General -- and the rest of the conservative community -- were stunned. “I have never called for violence against anyone,” he explained to Todd. “My statement was meant to be humor and not a call for violence, which everyone in my audience understood as humor. Nonetheless, I gave the LGBT community just what they needed to pressure the college leadership to terminate me and they did.” When word of the General’s ouster spread, the real firestorm started. Hampden-Sydney thought it was resolving a controversy -- when really, it was just creating one! Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was one of the first to come to General Boykin’s defense.
“Young people need heroes like General Boykin,” the Republican fired back on Facebook. “Free speech matters. If you disagree with someone, disagree with them. Don't silence or punish them. Censorship is the refuge of the weak-minded (those who cannot defend their views) or the tyrannical (those who simply want to force submission and compliance). If you think it's a good idea for men and boys to be taking showers with little girls -- whether you're the President, a presidential candidate, or a university apparatchik -- tell us why. Make the case, with reason and logic, don't just respond as jack-booted thugs.”
Other leaders started chiming in until, in a stunning turnaround late yesterday, the college made the decision to reinstate General Boykin. In an age where the bad news outweighs the good on college campuses, the victory was an enormous one. FRC celebrated the news, along with Jerry. “This situation,” he told Todd, “has been a great reminder of how our First Amendment principles are worth standing up for and defending.”
“There is strength in unified numbers. The radical Left and LGBT activists completely underestimate the impact of freedom-loving Americans banding together to protect our First Amendment freedoms. Many people spoke out on my behalf and I am eternally grateful that they stood with me. Their unified voices allowed me to return to Hampden-Sydney… Never cave in when you know that you are standing for what is right and true, for these are the principles that made this nation great. STAND, even if it means you lose your job. STAND, even if it means you lose your life. The founding principles of this nation are worth defending, even if it costs you.”
General Boykin ought to know. He’s spent his life defending ours. We salute him and Hampden-Sydney College for doing the right thing and restoring a hero to where he belongs: teaching the next generation to become people worthy of respect.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.