PPDC RE-AWARDS HONOR TO MIKEY WEINSTEIN
June 1, 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club (PPDC) is very pleased to announce that Mikey Weinstein will join us in Los Angeles this fall to receive our prestigious Anne Froehlich Political Courage Award. The award is being given in distinct recognition of Mr. Weinstein’s unflagging and selfless work as founder and head of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF,” www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org). MRFF fights to ensure that all members of the U.S. Armed Forces fully receive the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom to which they — and all Americans — are entitled under the First Amendment and related constitutional provisions.
Internationally recognized as a tireless civil rights activist, Mr. Weinstein is the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces. Mikey has been described by Harper’s Magazine (May 2009 cover story) as “the constitutional conscience of the U.S. military.” The prior recipient of a number of prestigious civil rights awards, two years ago Weinstein was nominated for the JFK Profiles in Courage Award.
The PPDC award was first offered to and accepted by Mr. Weinstein two weeks ago, but, unfortunately, PPDC subsequently attempted to withdraw it based on incorrect information. PPDC’s concerns had to do not with Mr. Weinstein’s political affiliation, as surely no one party has an exclusive claim on political courage, but rather an erroneous perception about Mr. Weinstein’s past activities as a White House lawyer in the Reagan Administration, a serious error we most sincerely regret.
The club extends our profound apologies not just to Mikey Weinstein and his family, as well as MRFF staffers and their many armed forces clients, but to everyone who supports his cause and fights to defend the Constitution. PPDC’s goal has always been to stand strong alongside Mr. Weinstein in support of military religious freedom. We are delighted that Mikey has accepted our apology and will come with his wife, Bonnie, to Los Angeles to receive our award.
Past awardees of PPDC’s Political Courage Award include Ron Kovic, Daniel Ellsberg, Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro, Tomas Young, Robert Greenwald, and Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson.
Details about date, time and location of the event and how to purchase tickets to come.
At over 900 members strong, the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club is one of the largest, most active Democratic clubs in California. We are proud of our mission to fight for campaign finance reform, election protection, and universal single-payer healthcare, among many other key initiatives, and to elect Democrats who share our vision of a more progressive world. [www.palisadesdemclub.org, [email protected], 310-230-2084]
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Letter from past honoree and MRFF Board Member Joe Wilson in response to PPDC’s explanation of the reinstatement of the award
June 1, 2010
Dear Mr. Wolman,
Thank you very much for your letter and explanation of what has recently happened. I am delighted that you were able to reverse the previous decision. I can assure you that Valerie and I were distressed to have to act as we did, and are pleased to accept your apology (though in fact it was MRFF and Mikey who were the offended ones) and to consider our previous letters moot. One, or both, of us will be honored to be able to introduce Mikey and to play whatever role you deem appropriate.
Thank you in particular for your comments in the last paragraph of your note below. We are happy to see that the courage of Mikey Weinstein and of the MRFF are being recognized.
Letter from MRFF Ally and California Council of Churches IMPACT Director of Public Policy Elizabeth Sholes in Response to PPDC Press Release
June 1, 2010
To the Board of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club:
I am relieved to come back into the office to see that you have decided to reinstate the honor to Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
A couple of years ago, California Council of Churches and IMPACT were awarded the first “Fr. Robert Drinan Award” from the California Democratic Party for our work in standing with courage for justice. Nowhere has that been more true than in standing with and for both Mikey and MRFF. As a direct result of our very public support for religious freedom within our military, my organization has come under assault from the religious right, up to and including direct harassment of me at my home.
The notion that because Mikey once worked in the Reagan White House – under orders from the US Air Force to do so – he is not “deserving” of your award is deeply troubling in its narrow view of justice and courage. We applaud you for revising your second thoughts and deciding to reinstate this award. He and his family, much more than my own, have put their safety and dedication on the line. April 30, while I was accepting, on behalf of author Jeff Sharlet, one of two First Amendment Freedom awards, we learned that a man had been arrested outside the venue trying to find a way in or waiting for us to emerge, and he was armed.
The other award recipient, Actor Ed Asner, made some delicious jokes about Mikey’s political history – but also stands with him without question. If Mr. Asner, former award recipients Joe and Valerie Plame Wilson, and we support Mikey, there really is no room for question of his principles and merit. PPDC’s honor of Mikey’s courage and devotion to First Amendment principles should need no greater validation than this.
There are relatively few people in the world who “walk the walk” of their convictions. Every single man and woman serving in our nation’s military require us to support their right to their faith perspective including the right to no faith at all, and only Mikey Weinstein has had the devotion to the First Amendment that has made this right more than a talking point. The religious right in America is one of this nation’s single largest threats to the Constitution. MRFF has been the only organization that repeatedly challenges their work toward a theocracy, or at least a narrow Christian hegemony, and his work deserves your accord and recognition.
We are deeply relieved that as part of the CDP, PPDC has chosen to do the right thing. We can once again be proud of our own honor from the state party, and we thank you for reconsidering and stepping forward to uphold justice over narrow politics.
Director of Public Policy
California Council of Churches/California Church IMPACT