MRFF Activist to Speak at US Air Force Academy

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Michael Weinstein has been invited to the US Air Force Academy’s 2010 National Character and Leadership Symposium occurring on February 18th and 19th.  According to the article, he was invited by USAFA Superintendent LtGen Mike Gould:

[Gould] said he believes Weinstein and his organization have received a “bad rap” from some outside observers.

“He’s not anti-religious, anti-Christian or anti-anything,” Gould said. “He’s pro-respect. From my perspective, I’d like to give him the opportunity to make those points.”

Gould’s characterization of Weinstein (which is the second time he has complimented him) is perplexing.  Gould himself has been the target of Jeff Sharlet, a proxy for the MRFF who has worked with MRFF researcher Chris Rodda.  While Gould may feel he can take the wind from Weinstein’s sails by making him an ally, he may do so at the cost of his own credibility.

When asked to characterize his speech, a “pro-respect” speaker would have described his upcoming presentation as

“Your personal rights do not supersede the Constitutional rights of others.”

That’s a message that is fitting for such an audience.  Instead, in the same Gazette article, the not “anti-Christian or anti-anything” Weinstein characterized his message this way: 

“Your personal Christian rights do not supersede the Constitutional rights of others.” (emphasis added)

Besides the somewhat surprising generalization of cadets as “Christian,” the greater problem is Weinstein’s insistence on making his argument against Christianity (and contradicting his own assertions that his “war” isn’t against “Christians”).  The “official” description of Weinstein’s topic is somewhat less combative:

Quis Custodiet lpsos Custodes: Who Will Guard the Guards? – What must military officers be prepared to do to exercise leadership excellence in their role as the most trusted guardians of our nation’s most cherished Constitutional freedoms?

Inviting Weinstein to speak at a “Character and Leadership Symposium” is not an altogether bad idea; in fact, it has some merit.  Weinstein will be one of a list of more than 30 speakers that also includes two football coaches, Colorado resident Darrell Scott (father of Columbine victim Rachel), and–in an interesting irony–former US Congresswoman Heather Wilson.  Wilson–who is also a 1982 USAFA graduate–was Michael Weinstein’s Republican Congresswoman, and he actively worked for her Democrat opponent in 2006.  (Wilson was re-elected).

However, in not only defending Weinstein but also praising him, Gould enters a twilight zone of logic.  The “bad rap” Weinstein has received was arguably well-earned.

The self-proclaimed “litigator and agitator” has filed four religiously-based lawsuits against the US military, none of which has been sufficiently justified to survive to trial.  In framing his adversary, Weinstein has accused evangelical Christians of instituting “Plan B,” which includes “the Holocaust [and] pogroms” in America.  He has appropriated Holocaust imagery to support his cause, and has even framed his struggle as one of Judaism against Christianity:

We end up with oceans of blood, and it usually starts with Jewish blood.

We can expect violence…They may try to harm me but I will not go quietly; I will be a Jew from the Warsaw Ghetto, not Berlin.

If Weinstein is about “respect,” why does his “religious freedom” organization not “respect” religious beliefs enough to defend a Chaplain who delivered a sermon during a religious service?

On a basic level of common courtesy and respect for individuals, Weinstein has responded to his critics with threats of lawsuits and violence, including “boxing matches” and a meeting in an “alley behind Safeway.”

What part of Weinstein wanting to take a baseball bat to a retired General’s kneecaps justifies his characterization as “pro-respect?”

Perhaps Gould feels he can placate Weinstein with a kind word and a gentle spirit.  If so, one hopes he is correct.  Otherwise, it is worrisome that the General may be naively defending a man unworthy of such efforts.  Then again, perhaps General Gould knows exactly who he is defending.

3 comments

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  • The evangelical zealots of the religious right are capable of any despicable act. To allow them to run rough-shod over the rights of other christians or atheists at the air force academy is disgusting in our country. Where is the constitution and how is it viewed by the so-called evangelical pastors at the academy? What I have found is that these folks are ignorant as toads and prejudiced against all other faiths to the point that they cannot accept another’s faith or deeply held beliefs. The academy needs a good house cleaning of these fanatics.

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