Mikey Weinstein Non-Reports Alleged Anti-Semitism at USAFA

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s veritable public relations officer, Pam Zubeck of the CSIndy, published an article late yesterday claiming a cadet at the US Air Force Academy said something and another cadet didn’t like it.

And that’s about it.

The incident isn’t explained fully in any one paragraph within the article, but putting the pieces together it appears upperclass cadets at a lunch meal are alleged to have said:

The 11 Jews murdered [in Pittsburgh] would now be burning in hell forever because none of them had accepted Jesus as their savior prior to being shot and killed.

A first year (Fourth Class) cadet who is Jewish apparently overheard the conversation as he sat at the foot of the same lunch table. After complaining to Mikey Weinstein, his parents are reportedly “shocked” USAFA “won’t do anything” — despite admitting neither they nor their cadet reported their concerns to USAFA so they could do something.

Reached for comment, USAFA’s Public Affairs office indicated they couldn’t substantiate the allegation; therefore, they couldn’t investigate it.

In other words, no one is willing to file even an anonymous complaint — though they know nothing can happen without that — but they’re more than happy to anonymously trash USAFA in the local paper.

Do you think they really want help?

The “facts,” such as they are, don’t even necessarily warrant an investigation.

First, it is worth noting the statement itself is theologically correct. All Christians believe that Jesus Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by” Him, so it would not be a surprise for a Christian to express that belief. In fact, the offended cadet apparently heard them citing this very Bible verse in their conversation.

Second, the alleged comment is not proselytizing; it is an application of a tenet to current events. It’s not an unusual thing to be talking about over a meal with friends or even critics.

Third, the parents wrote a letter (apparently coached and written for public consumption after Zubeck was already writing her article) in which they claimed their son “had to listen” to the upperclass cadets talking at the lunch table. In other words, their cadet wasn’t part of the conversation — he just overheard other people talking. There is no rule, written or unwritten, that says cadets cannot talk about their religion during lunch, even in the presence of others. Mikey Weinstein’s claim that it is illegal because it is a “mandatory formation” is inapplicable, because the conversation didn’t even involve the offended parties — they just overheard it.

Fourth, the statement itself is suspect. As a gross generalization, Christians don’t talk like that. But do you know who does?  Mikey Weinstein.  The language cited is, in fact, almost a direct quote of Weinstein’s caricature of Christians. The alleged statement:

The [victims] would now be burning in hell forever.

Weinstein’s quotes from prior years:

They are absolutely entitled to believe that Anne Frank is burning in hell…

…Anne Frank is burning eternally in hell…

Mikey Weinstein has long used the caricature of Christians believing (popular) people to be “burning in hell” as a means to mock their faith.

The person most likely to use words like this to say someone is “burning in hell” isn’t a Christian, it’s Mikey Weinstein — the same person now publicizing the allegation.

Fifth, the statement lacks any context. What were the cadets talking about?  Was the statement a declarative, or a response to a question?  Was it a supportive conversation between two Christian cadets, or a combative one between an atheist and a Christian (or none of the above)?

It seems possible, if not likely, the alleged quote is a paraphrase of what was actually said. That means the “offensive” statement may have been offensive only because of its idea, not because of its words. In other words, the cadet was offended at the sentiment, not the words. The cadet is offended at the idea that another cadet could believe murdered Jews would go to hell just because they didn’t believe in Jesus.

The Jewish cadet in question is entitled to be offended at overhearing another person’s religious beliefs — but mere offense is not actionable in any context.

Finally, the cadet’s parents jumped the shark in their outrage over this incident [emphasis added]:

We had heard about the Air Force Academy’s long history of religious intolerance… [and] had been assured that those days were over…We were obviously wrong…

The Air Force Academy [is] doing nothing about the hateful atmosphere that exists there.

So cadets express their religious beliefs — beliefs they are allowed to have and allowed to express. Those beliefs are expressed as inoffensively as possible (given the tragedy in question) and the comments are directed toward those willingly conversing about that subject.

This cadet overhears those perfectly permissible statements and does not like them. As a result, the Air Force Academy as an institution has “religious intolerance” and a “hateful atmosphere.”

Victim, much?

If the cadets had been berating someone over this, or knew the first year cadet’s beliefs and made a point of haranguing him with their beliefs as a result, there would be room for discussion. But here, an acceptable, respectful, religious conversation overheard by someone else not of that religion is being used to accuse USAFA of intolerance and hate.

That’s completely illogical.

The parents — bless their heart for wanting to protect their adult child — need to grow up. The pluralistic nature of the US military and its support for religious liberty mean their future-officer “child” will be exposed to differing religious beliefs. He needs to learn to function in a religiously diverse environment without melting, and mom and dad need to realize purging troops’ religious liberties is not the answer to their offense. (Mom and dad also threatened to “pull[] our son out of the Academy,” apparently not realizing their “child” is now an adult who has joined the military.)

This event is a non-event in many respects, particularly since USAFA isn’t even being given the opportunity to do anything about it — and Mikey Weinstein knows it. This appears to be a publicity ploy by Weinstein, repeating his prior m.o. of trying to associate his “charity” with the keywords and headlines dominating the news cycle in an attempt to gain exposure — so he can raise money, which ultimately funds his annual salary.  Note, for example, the subject line of the parents’ letter was

Complaint Against Air Force Academy Anti-Semitism

…yet nothing in the entire incident is even alleged to have been anti-Semitic.  An “agnostic Jew who prays” represents Jewish parents — and none of the know the definition of anti-Semitism?

The sad part is this cadet and his parents are pawns in Mikey Weinstein’s little game. As noted earlier, they expressed their surprise that USAFA hadn’t done anything — and they don’t seem to realize Mikey Weinstein is the reason USAFA doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

If Mikey wanted action rather than attention, he could make it happen in minutes — but Weinstein has declined to report the “anti-Semitic” incident beyond vague allegations, and has apparently advised the cadet to not report the incident. If the parents want action, they need to abandon Weinstein and advise their “child” to use the military grievance systems.  USAFA even reminded everyone

there are “multiple avenues” available for staff and cadets to “bring forward concerns” but remain anonymous.

But they should prepare themselves to get an answer they don’t like [emphasis added]:

The statement also said the Academy is committed to supporting the U.S. Constitution and supports “everyone’s right to exercise his or her own religious beliefs, or to not subscribe to any religious beliefs.”

“We welcome and celebrate the diversity of our cadet wing not only as an ethical issue, but because it is imperative to our mission. Intolerance divides us,” the statement read in part.

That includes, mom and dad, intolerance of Christian beliefs.