- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The White House refused Tuesday to criticize black female West Point cadets who posed for a photo giving a black-pride gesture, saying only that President Obama is proud of the class of 2016.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged the photo “has generated some discussions about race relations in our country.”

“But the real focus should be on the tremendous accomplishments of these cadets,” Mr. Earnest said. “I’m not going to try to divine the message that those cadets were attempting to send.”

The 16 women posed for a photo in front of historic Nininger Hall at the academy, with clenched fists raised. It caused a debate on campus about the potential breach of the taboo against advocacy by military personnel.

Mr. Earnest said the president “has an enormous amount of pride in the class of 2016,” noting that he has given two commencement addresses at West Point. The president this spring will deliver the graduation speech at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The president is “proud of the way they [cadets] have prepared themselves to represent our country and serve our country in missions around the world,” Mr. Earnest said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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