Now, Weinstein’s Lawyer’s Turn in re: Klawonn
Updated with video, see below.
A few days ago it was Michael Weinstein’s lawyer’s turn to stick his foot in the mouth of the MRFF. Randal Mathis (of Mathis and Donheiser) is reportedly representing Specialist Zachari Klawonn in an as-yet undefined legal fashion against the Army. (Mathis is currently suing the CGFC and Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt on behalf of Weinstein.)
As noted previously, Klawonn claims the military is not doing enough to deter anti-Islamic sentiment against him, though he has yet to say what he would have the military do. There are no new allegations since this was originally discussed, except to say that Klawonn has not been satisfied. In fact, even the actions the military has taken in order to appease Klawonn are being used against them. Mathis said
What hasn’t been mentioned so far is that Zachari has had to move off the base and live in off base housing in order to ensure his safety. Now if the Army can’t ensure the safety of one of its own Soldiers simply because of its [sic] religion, something is wrong.
Mathis’ statements are, of course, tragically ironic given the Army’s inability to “ensure the safety” of Soldiers against Maj Nidal Hasan a few months ago. More to the point, however, is the fact that Klawonn chose to move off base. Contrary to Mathis’ impassioned claim, it was Klawonn’s personal preference (one many other Soldiers would probably appreciate), not an Army directive for his “safety.”
According to both Klawonn and Col Jimmy Jenkins, his commander, Klawonn was offered several options in a meeting on March 1st, including a new roommate, a different barracks, and the option to move off post. (Col Jenkins also said Klawonn was welcome to move back on post, if he so chose.) Klawonn visibly rolled his eyes at that statement, and now says he felt pressured to take that option. Apparently, that pressure is now relieved and Klawonn has the courage to resist that he lacked just two months ago. A sometimes-MRFF spokesman also noted this burst of public courage:
Klawonn’s commander also said
I have worked personally with SPC Klawonn on quite a few occasions to see what I could do to make him feel safer and in each case I thought I was making headway based on his responses to me and the feedback I got… (emphasis added)
All indications are that the Army is bending over backward to give him special treatment to appease him. “Full bird Colonels,” as he so eloquently put it, who command 2200-man brigades, don’t often invest significant personal attention in individual Soldiers. In addition, single Soldiers are rarely given permission to live off post. Despite all this, Klawonn is lodging a vague and undefined public grievance against the Army — which, at least publicly, has done nothing but try to satiate his demands.
As already noted, Klawonn has yet to specify what corrective actions would satisfy him — either to the press, or to his own commanders. None of the three — Weinstein, Klawonn, or Mathis — answered the question about what the Army is not doing that it should be, or what rule it is breaking. While several statements were made that this was “clear discrimination,” there was never any evidence provided that the Army was responsible for discrimination; in fact, no one has ever claimed to know who the “discriminators” even were. None addressed the other Islamic Soldiers who reported no such discrimination.
When Klawonn was directly asked what he wants to come out of this, it was that the Army “take a good hard look at [its] moral compass.” While profoundly abstract, that’s not something a court of law can affect. Should he try to file a legal claim against the military, as Weinstein has implied, it is likely that it would suffer the same fate as Weinstein’s other lawsuits.
Weinstein has admitted, though, that he prefers the court of CNN to a court of law; he has never even appealed the rapid dismissal of each of his earlier lawsuits. Klawonn may yet join the growing list of pawns that Weinstein has left at the roadside.
Update: At the MRFF’s request, Klawonn entered the Fort Hood Spiritual Fitness Center for the purpose of providing video and photographs to characterize the campus as “too Christian.” From Chris Rodda:
As part of my job with MRFF, I often ask service members to send me photos documenting their claims, so I asked Zachari, who had described the Spiritual Fitness Center to me on the phone, to take some photos. He not only sent me the requested photos, but a video walkthrough of the facility that made my jaw drop.
His video, which has nothing to do with the complaints he has publicized to date about his treatment by the Army, can be seen on YouTube.
See the full text of the above quotes at CNN.