MRFF PR Machine Works Overtime Against McClary
Last Saturday the US Air Force Academy’s local Colorado Springs Gazette published responses to their previous editorial that described Michael Weinstein as worse than a hypocrite for trying to silence a retired military officer because of his religious views.
The letters were interesting not for their content, but for who wrote them. The Gazette prefaced with:
The Gazette editorial “Censors want to silence war hero,” Jan. 24, advocated resulted [sic] in an overwhelming number of repsonses. Below is a small, representative sample.
The authors defending Weinstein’s criticism of USAFA’s invitation to Lt Clebe McClary, as included in the Gazette‘s sampling, were
- Paulette Hawkins
- Walter Plywaski
- Jason Torpy
- Lesley Shure
- Elizabeth Sholes
- Darryl Wimberley
- Marji Mendelsohn
In their letters to the Gazette, Sholes is the only one of the above writers who says “our” with reference to the MRFF. Still, each of the names above, save the first, has previously allied themselves with Weinstein in other public arenas.
- Walter Plywaski has previously said support to the MRFF would help prevent future concentration camps, which he survived in the 1940s.
- Jason Torpy, head of the MAAF, said in 2007 that he and the MRFF “worked closely on a number of issues and will continue to do so. MAAF builds community, but MRFF has the legal and financial power…”
- Lesley Shure, a Texas doctor with no apparent connection to either Colorado Springs or Michael Weinstein, last defended Weinstein in the “Letters to the Editor” section in the awkward family feud that played out in the Colorado Springs newspaper last year. She also defended him as “not anti-Christian” on another site.
- Sholes, as already noted, is part of an organization allied with Weinstein’s MRFF and has long defended his cause.
- Darryl Wimberley has previously publicized support for Weinstein on other sites.
- Marji Mendelsohn previously wrote a fluff OpEd News article on the internet, but more interestingly, she has personally responded to “hate mail” sent to the MRFF, which seems to indicate she is active within the organization, not simply an outside supporter.
By contrast, the two letters defending USAFA in the Gazette were written by people not otherwise publicly associated with Weinstein or his prior controversies. Incidentally, each of Weinstein’s historied supporters was also outside of the local Gazette area, while both USAFA defenders were local citizens of Colorado Springs.
Thus, Weinstein’s MRFF continues its portrayal as a self-licking ice cream cone. Through letter writing campaigns and an apparent lack of full disclosure by its defenders, it apparently tries to create the appearance of a general ground swell of support — but the truth is that it is a small, poorly-credentialed, self-sustaining clique with a shared agenda.
Combat deployments, resource restrictions, and a high operations tempo often conspire to challenge a military member’s ability to exercise his religious freedom. But even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, the US military strives to protect that freedom — even if it means, for example, shipping a Jewish Sukkah from the States into the heart of a combat zone in the Arab world.
To date, USAFA has not bowed to Weinstein’s campaign of agitation; the military should be commended for standing behind its support of the Constitutional freedoms of its military members.
In his fade into irrelevancy, Weinstein has simply joined the list of difficulties an Airman, Marine, Soldier or Sailor has to overcome to exercise his religious freedom.