Mikey Weinstein Attacks Muslim US Troops over Religion. Almost.
In an act that almost amounted to a display of principle, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF finally spoke out against US Air Force MSgts Laura and Mark Magee — both Muslim service members. The Magees were the focus of a “Through Airmen’s Eyes” article put out by the Air Force early last week which highlighted their faith. The article was entitled “Nevada ANG chaplain [sic]: ‘I want people to know Islam is not evil’“. (The title should have said “…chaplain’s assistant,” not “chaplain”.)
Weinstein’s group put out a statement saying [emphasis added]:
MRFF objects to it just as strongly as it has to the many articles published by the Air Force highlighting the faith of Christian airmen [sic]…
The MRFF complaint gives only a single example that it says violates Air Force regulations, citing the article which quoted MSgt Mark Magee saying:
“The things that are there, versus reading the Bible and the many contradictions between the Old and New Testament — the Quran is more constant all the way through”
— [This] statement say[s] that the Qur’an is superior to the Bible, which clearly violates AFI 1-1, Section 2.12…
Naturally, the MRFF is wrong: The MRFF doesn’t object “just as strongly” to this article on Islam as it has to those on Christianity.
In just a few examples of the different way in which the MRFF has treated Christians:
- The MRFF announcement is generic from the MRFF, not a vitriolic personal missive from Mikey Weinstein.
- It contains zero unnecessary adjectives, ellipses, or vitriol, indicating Weinstein probably didn’t write or even edit it. (Nor likely did Chris Rodda, as it is about 3,000 words too short.)
- The MRFF does not demand the “immediate,” “aggressive,” “public,” or any other kind of investigation, court-martial, or punishment on the part of the two MSgts or their entire chain of command.
- The MRFF does not equate the Magees with the Taliban, call them traitors violating the Constitution, say they were displaying “fundamentalist tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy,” or otherwise indicate the Magees were “evidence” of an ongoing “coup”.
- The MRFF does not demand the Magee’s heads be cut off.
- The MRFF does not say one word about MSgt Laura Magee’s public display of faith in uniform: her hijab.
- The MRFF does not threaten a lawsuit, demand the article be removed, or even politely ask for a disclaimer.
- The MRFF does not cite 23 offended “clients”, 13 of whom are practicing Muslims.
- The MRFF release is merely an internet comment. It is not an official complaint, filed with the IG or in a letter cc’d to the entire Air Force chain of command.
- The MRFF says nothing about the chaplain in the article — who proselytized and converted a subordinate, MSgt Magee.
- Finally, the MRFF fails to show the “blood in the streets” it claimed would occur if another religion did what it claims Christians have done.
In other words, the MRFF’s objection to an article on Islamic troops is nothing like its objection to articles on Christian troops.
The entire event is published almost reluctantly, as if Weinstein was forced to put something out and only half-heartedly did so. The MRFF’s tone sounds as though they desperately wanted ammunition to say they didn’t just pick on Christians, but they didn’t have the heart — or the courage — to attack a Muslim the way they would a Christian.
But even if we give Mikey Weinstein credit for trying to look principled, his MRFF is also wrong on the law.
MSgt Mark Magee addressed a simple point on why he chose to convert to Islam after his wife did. He said part of the reason was that he’d read the Qu’ran and found it more believable than the Bible. Whether one agrees with that statement or not, there’s absolutely nothing wrong under Air Force rules or the law with him saying it. After all, anyone who knows he is a Muslim already knows what he thinks about the Bible — along with many other things he believes. That MSgt Magee puts voice to those beliefs changes nothing about his freedom — protected under the law, not just Air Force regulations — to express those beliefs.
Would Mikey Weinstein assert that US troops should have to hide their faiths to avoid violating AFI 1-1 para 2.12?
(The MRFF also took issue with the Air Force naming MSgt Laura Magee’s personal blog. As with mentioning the details of their faith, there is no law, regulation, or policy that restricts the Air Force from mentioning a benign personal endeavor in a personal interest story about a person’s personal activities.)
Many Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines have converted religions over the years, some under interesting circumstances. Men and women converted to Islam (and to Islam, and to Islam), from Islam, to Christianity. The reasons these stories are known is the military has published them. Further, the US military has routinely published stories about troops living out their faiths — all published without incident. Allowing someone to tell the personal story of their faith is something in which the military has found value, likely because it acts as both a recruitment tool and an encouragement to others of like faith.
That Mikey Weinstein doesn’t like it does not suddenly make it impermissible or illegal. Mikey Weinstein is not the law, nor is he the Air Force. He is just another private citizen with an opinion and a mouth.
Tragically, the Magees are wrong: the Bible is God’s Word, and Jesus is the Only Way to eternal life. But even Christianity recognizes the Magee’s liberty to be wrong. Perhaps one day they will be as open to a Christian chaplain handing them a Bible as they were to a Muslim chaplain handing them a Qur’an.
We can pray.