Mikey Weinstein’s Lawyer Donald Rehkopf Lies in Accusation of Lying
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and those who work with his “charity,” the contradictorily named Military Religious Freedom Foundation, seem to have a innate problem with telling the truth. (Weinstein lackey Chris Rodda is the most famous, as she’s frequently made easily disprovable false statements in an apparent effort to defend the MRFF’s reputation.)
The most recent example of this lack of integrity came from Donald Rehkopf, the most recent legal face of Weinstein’s MRFF. (Despite being a lawyer — and the only paid member of the MRFF — Weinstein defers to others rather than act for his own organization.)
In a supreme twist of hypocrisy, Rehkopf was trying to accuse someone of lying — while not being so forthright himself.
Apparently set back on their heels by Tommy Vallejos’ defense of Sonny Hernandez, Donald Rehkopf declined to make a calm, reasoned, and rational rebuttal. Rather, the MRFF advocate submitted a response claiming Vallejos was lying. Said Rehkopf:
It is ironic to have to remind the Rev. Tommy Vallejos of one of the Ten Commandments — not to lie.
Yet, in his Opinion letter, “Don’t persecute chaplain for practicing his faith”…he makes at least two false statements.
Rehkopf then makes his first accusation:
First, no one, to include the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is “persecuting” Chaplain (Captain) Sonny Hernandez for his “personal faith.”
Rehkopf starts off poorly, and it only goes downhill. First of all, the word “persecut[e]” that Rehkopf places in quotes occurs only in the title of the piece — a title that was likely chosen by the newspaper’s editors, not Vallejos.
Second, Rehkopf claims Vallejos was saying Hernandez was being attacked for his “personal faith,” yet Vallejos never said any such thing. If Rehkopf insists on citing the title of the Opinion piece, he would be wise to acknowledge it actually said Hernandez was attacked for “practicing his faith” — a point well made and supported by text written by Vallejos within the letter itself.
In his passion to attack Sonny Hernandez, Donald Rehkopf misrepresented the statements of someone who defended him.
Second, the reverend’s claim that the Air Force did not follow up on MRFF’s complaints against Hernandez is likewise demonstrably false — all he had to do was read the Sept. 22 article in Stars and Stripes…which noted that, “the Air Force is reviewing IG complaints made against Hernandez…”
It’s true the follow-up article on the Stars and Stripes did say the Air Force was reviewing complaints. But Vallejos wasn’t responding to that article — and even Rehkopf seems to allow Vallejos may not have read it. Rather, Vallejos was responding to the article published the day prior, which said the Air Force was not looking into complaints.
That the article Vallejos cited was later said to be wrong does not make Vallejos a liar — it just makes him wrong, or, more graciously, not up to date with the most recent press statement by the Air Force. Importantly, however, Vallejos gains nothing by “creating a deception” — that is, lying, as opposed to making an error — that the Air Force is not responding to the complaint. Rehkopf fails to explain why Vallejos would “intentionally tell a falsehood” — that is, lie, as opposed to repeat out-of-date information — when he had no reason to lie.
Apparently motivated to not only rebut Vallejos but also make him look bad, Rehkopf inappropriately equates being wrong with lying.
Rehkopf used his rebuttal OpEd to try to backpedal from the position unintentionally advanced by Chris Rodda that Sonny Hernandez’s comments were entirely theological. Rehkopf says
With respect to Hernandez, it is his conduct — not his beliefs — that is at issue.
As evidence, Rehkopf provides exactly zero examples of conduct by Hernandez.
The MRFF is only able to cite Hernandez’s words — religious words by a religious leader explicitly directed at fellow religious adherents. The MRFF has been unable to provide any evidence Sonny Hernandez ever did anything wrong.
Even Rehkopf’s letter is self-defeating for the MRFF. Rehkopf cites Hernandez’s “public comments” — and then quotes one of those comments in which Hernandez gives theological guidance to fellow believers — thus, Rehkopf repeats Chris Rodda’s “error”. Rehkopf then cites a trifecta of non sequiturs [emphasis added]:
[Hernandez cannot] denigrate any other religion or servicemember who does not believe the way he and Vallejos believe…Nor is it Hernandez’s decision that he does not have to comply with [regulations] which prohibit discrimination on the basis of…religion…
What Hernandez advocates is proselytizing his beliefs — something that both the First Amendment in the military context and AFI 1-1 prohibit.
Point one: Hernandez never denigrated another servicemember. The article remains publicly available and refutes Rehkopf’s accusation. As to other religions, it is not “denigration” for a person of one religion to express theological opposition to another religion. Rehkopf is simply wrong — and he likely knows it, but he needs to try to bolster an extraordinarily weak accusation.
Point two: There is no public indication Hernandez has ever discriminated against anyone. Rehkopf provides no evidence to support his accusation. To the extent anyone may have interpreted such advocacy in his column, Hernandez clarified himself (in the same follow-up article Rehkopf cited earlier) to clearly indicate that was not his intent. Rehkopf’s accusation is baseless — and, by his lack of citation of any example of discrimination, Rehkopf likely knows it, but he is likely relying on the connotations and stigma at the mere mention of the word “discrimination”, the truth notwithstanding.
Point three: Neither the First Amendment nor AFI 1-1 prohibit evangelism or “proselytization,” even in the “military context.” That’s just an outright falsehood. US troops are converted every day from one religion to another, and the Air Force explicitly encourages Airmen to practice their faith. It’s not remotely considered wrong. Rehkopf is either lying or an idiot — or perhaps both.
It’s worth noting some of the reasons why Weinstein and his acolytes are trying to make such hay out of Chaplain Sonny Hernandez — who, as shown by their own arguments, hasn’t done anything wrong. The first is obvious: Mikey Weinstein’s MRFF — the “charity” he created — is his own personal piggy bank, as has been discussed before and even highlighted by the mainstream press.
The second reason is more ridiculous: The MRFF has been struggling so hard to find anything “newsworthy” this year that Weinstein announcing his mere complaints is the best he can do. That the military has said they’re “looking into” those complaints is a veritable coup. In the past, Chris Rodda has laughably said the “outcome of [an] investigation…is irrelelvant.” Rather, the mere existence of an investigation was evidence per se of the accusation being true, in her eyes. So this “scandal,” such as it is, is the closest thing Mikey Weinstein has had to a money maker all year. That’s why he can’t abide the Stars and Stripes (or Reverend Tommy Vallejos) saying there isn’t an investigation. That “investigation” means everything to Mikey Weinstein — literally.
As Weinstein was quick to admit, the MRFF has been after Chaplain Hernandez for months — and yet those complaints were so egregious, so onerous, so illegal that exactly nothing has been done. On one hand, that gives you an indication of how asinine Mikey Weinstein’s accusations are.
However, Mikey Weinstein also knows that if you throw mud against the wall long enough, something might eventually stick. And if there’s one thing Weinstein does well, it’s throw mud. Thus, he keeps the prod warm.
Alternatively, Weinstein also knows that with these ongoing accusations, he may eventually wear down those in the military chain of command who are resisting him — so that they’ll join with his allies (and there are definitely allies of Mikey Weinstein’s bigotry toward Christians in the military) to finally respond favorably to his demands, even if just in an attempt to make him go away.
Thus, Rehkopf was chosen to defend the MRFF’s honor (and bottom line) — likely because Mikey Weinstein’s monologues tend to become spittle-flinging compilations of alliterative adjectives that hurt more than help, and the MRFF wanted someone who at least sounded like they had something intelligent to say.
Given the errors and contradictions in Rehkopf’s piece, it doesn’t appear they were successful.