Michael Weinstein Incites Faculty against USAFA?
The prior article on the upcoming religious climate review at USAFA noted most major news repeats of the CSIndy story missed some of the more interesting details.
The Associated Press article closed with a single sentence on a related topic:
The Independent reported that the Air Force also plans to review questions raised by an academy faculty member about the qualifications of some of the faculty.
While the statement may seem unrelated to religion at USAFA, it’s actually an integral piece to the puzzle. Here’s what the Independent said:
A second inquiry…involves alleged accreditation violations, religious discrimination and cronyism in hiring civilian faculty.
“I am very concerned that [USAFA] may have committed persistent, gross violations of allowing inadequate academic credentials of many military instructors,” R. David Mullin, associate professor of economics, writes in his complaint to the Higher Learning Commission, Chicago, which accredits the academy.
“Also there have been violations of First Amendment rights and academic freedom by Brigadier General Dana Born, Dean of Faculty, and Richard Fullerton, Vice Dean of Faculty. These two officers have also stifled diversification of the faculty.”…
Mullin also alleges that more than half of cadets who took Calculus 1 and 2 in their first semester from 1996 through 2006 were taught by professors with unrelated master’s degrees.
The CSIndy accurately notes R. David Mullin is the same USAFA faculty member who recently sued USAFA over the National Prayer Luncheon. It mentions this inquiry is being investigated by the Air Force Inspector General’s office, though it doesn’t make clear if that is a result of a direct IG complaint.
To put this in perspective, Mullin has taught at USAFA for 13 years. According to the CSIndy, his accusations involve issues between 5 and 15 years ago.
After all these years, why is Mullin making these accusations now? Why is he complaining to the Higher Learning Commission — rather than a host of other avenues — about “violations of the First Amendment”? The HLC accredits USAFA, so why threaten the very academic credibility of his own employer? Why has he saved up and then summarized a laundry list of completely unrelated accusations, ranging from diversity to religion, to compose a scathing complaint?
The most likely answer: Michael Weinstein.
It appears R. David Mullin, a member of the USAFA faculty, has become the latest pawn of Michael Weinstein. After being rebuffed in his lawsuit with Weinstein, Mullin’s latest (unrelated) complaint bears all the hallmarks of the Weinstein Method. The Colorado Springs Gazette described the Method as
Condemn in the strongest language possible. Publicly embarrass. Sue if necessary. Each new step raises the pressure on his publicity-averse targets.
It may be much simpler: Criticize. Humiliate. Intimidate and threaten. Throw an occasional tantrum.
Mullin, apparently taking up Weinstein’s mantle, is now “agitating” the very institution paying him to teach academics and professionalism to future US military officers. His tactic is classic Weinstein: Find the target’s ‘oversight’ (in this case, the accreditation agency), and inundate them (all of them) with every possible permutation of any possible hint of misconduct (religion, hiring, diversity, qualification…). This tactic is sometimes known as “throwing mud against the wall and seeing what sticks.” [Edited:] Weinstein hopes in all the unrelated accusations he makes, something will get dug up in his favor during the inevitable investigation — or he hopes the investigation itself is enough to negatively influence his targets.
When a person produces a laundry list of unrelated complaints, they give the impression their goal is not the correction of any error, but the wholesale public humiliation of their target. Its unlikely Mullin is dragging up Calculus from the late 1990s because he’s concerned about the mathematical integration skills of future officers. Instead, its one more way USAFA may get in “trouble” (or at least the appearance of trouble, which, in the Weinstein Method, is enough). The complaint smells like “payback” over USAFA’s successful defense of the National Prayer Luncheon; it seems to be vindictive sour grapes.
The “negative publicity” given the US military — even if the accusations aren’t true — is actually intentional. Weinstein and his crew have voiced their intention of dragging the US military through the mud in public if it fails to accede to their demands. USAFA stood up to Weinstein, essentially closing the door in his face after they finally learned no matter what they did, Weinstein would still make unfounded and vitriolic accusations against them. After previously being near-giddy over his personal access to the USAFA Superintendent, Weinstein got upset when he was put back in line with everyone else. He re-declared “war” on USAFA, and now he has a paid member of the USAFA faculty as an ally against the Academy (though this isn’t the first faculty member to announce his alignment with Weinstein).
Unfortunately, Weinstein has discovered that within military grievance systems — like the Inspector General reportedly investigating Mullin’s complaint — he has a free pass to harass and coerce the US military (as well as distract it from its mission). For example, years ago he discovered IG complaints are no-lose situations for him. (This observation was made here in 2007, in an article even the MRFF called “a well-honed presentation.”) Because of the (appropriate) value the military places on its grievance systems, Weinstein has found they provide him unfettered access to lodge what appear to be countless and meritless complaints. After all, there are no repercussions to him, even if the accusations are entirely frivolous.
In fact, he may benefit even if he loses. When Weinstein complained to the Pentagon Inspector General in another incident (Christian Embassy), the IG dismissed his accusations out of hand, but found fault with Weinstein’s “targets” over a separate issue. According to Chris Rodda, the IG’s new angle essentially “opened a door” for the MRFF to make a bevy of new complaints. Thus, Weinstein literally has nothing to lose and everything to gain while he uses the US military’s own systems in his campaign against religious freedom in the military.
Ultimately, it is unlikely Mullin’s accusations will go very far. The US Air Force Academy received a 10 year accreditation in 2009 from the same accrediting group to which Mullin complained. Notably, both he and the USAFA leaders he now complains about were at USAFA then. Thus, the HLC has already evaluated the Air Force Academy in the environment about which Mullin complains.
The content of Mullin’s complaint seems to portend this, as the words chosen were specific to the USAFA’s last accreditation report. For example, in the report the HLC raised questions of academic freedom and diversity, which are both key terms Mullin also chose to use in his complaint. Mullin seems to be telling the HLC they didn’t do their job correctly the first time, which is unlikely to endear them to his cause.
Weinstein and his acolytes are becoming proficient at wasting the military’s time. The US military, and the US Air Force Academy in particular, have likely committed significant resources to receiving, investigating, and answering the frivolous accusations of Weinstein and his cohorts. At some point the military will likely recognize the futility of trying to placate Weinstein (as USAFA did) and begin to view his accusations with the skepticism they are due. In fact, that may already be occurring…
Despite the fact USAFA earned another attack following its stand against Michael Weinstein, it should take heart: History has shown perseverance against Weinstein’s attacks on the Constitutionally protected human liberties of American troops pays off. Should all his threats fail — lawsuits, complaints to the military, etc. — Weinstein will, in true form, revert to his most trusted custom: He’ll start calling people names.
Because when they lose, that’s what playground bullies do.