Mr. Weinstein needs an editor

Dear MRFF,

I’ve been a vocal, and sometimes financial, supporter of MRFF since it started. There’s obviously a need for such an organization to fitht the use of the military for proselytizing.

However, it becomes harder and harder for me to tolerate Mr. Weinstein’s rage-filled rhetoric as reflected in his writings to various officials, and impossible for me to consider making further donations. I think his purple writing weakens his arguments, and risks making MRFF sound like one more shrill special-interest lobby, rather than an intellectually and legally sound advocacy organization.

For instance, in his most recent letter to the USMC, without much effort I counted 15 turns of phrase that sound as if they were written by a freshman with a new thesaurus. Examples:

“completely noxious” (what is partially noxious?)
“veritable legion” (what is an unveritable legion?)
“ignobly branded”,
etc.
The jewel was undoubtedly “sufficiently advanced unconstitutional incompetence”

I know that the USAFA isn’t an academic powerhouse, and his law school may not have emphasized legal writing, but
surely he has somewhere run into the idea of simplicity and clarity as powerful writing tools. His present style makes him sound foolish, more concerned with expressing his anger than with getting results. The truth does not become truer by adding adverbs.

I don’t know if Mr. Wienstein tolerates personal criticism (I sense he doesn’t), but it would be good for our cause if someone could help him achieve an equally emphatic but more adult level of writing.

The work to which MRFF is dedicated is too important not to sharpen all its tools.

Sincerely,

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

Mikey has read your email and asked me to respond on his and MRFF’s behalf.

At the risk of being overly dismissive of your complaints, I find them to be entirely about form over substance. A complaint I find incredibly annoying from a supporter in light of the writings and language employed by those seeking religious dominion over society in general and the U.S. Military specifically. Your complaint causes further aggravation when viewed in light of the astronomical imbalances (funding, manpower, media, etc.) between MRFF and the established organizations who seek to impose this religious domination, often with taxpayer funded help or acquiescence by our military leaders.

Although means do not always justify an end, given situational realities of MRFF and its clients, it is exactly Mikey’s means that have enabled MRFF’s ends (i.e. unparalleled success on behalf of U.S. Military service members). In fact, the letter you have taken exception to, provides a specific example of Mikey’s success employing identical means in response to the identical issue within another service branch of the U.S. Military.

What you have chosen to take offense to is specifically the rationale behind my decision to originally volunteer for MRFF 3 years ago. 17 years of firsthand experience in participating in and objecting to the inertia of smaller governmental institutions’ tendency to steamroll polite requests for change or action led to my very rational decision.

If you take the time to read Mikey’s biography or either of his books, you will see Mikey’s attempts at following some mythical Marquess of Queensberry rules in this fight were met repeatedly by the steamrolling tendency of a much larger governmental institution (Department of Defense) than I ever had to deal with. A government institution filling with powerful leaders aligning themselves with a religious institutional structure determined to unconstitutionally control government and all aspects of our society (Christian Dominionism). Mikey’s abandonment of ‘milk toast’ demands or responses has appealed to many other rational individuals such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (former chief of staff to Sec. of State Colin Powell) who populate MRFF’s Board & Advisory Board (view full list here: https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/).

Mikey’s style in making demands on behalf of MRFF’s clients has produced a track record of success on behalf of U.S. Military service members faced with unconstitutional religious influence in their training, assignments, advancement, and retention that is second to none. Mikey’s successful style led to the adoption of the 1st ever religious neutrality standard enforceable under the UCMJ (Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11). The writing style you find so offensive has led to 5 Nobel Peace Prize nominations and being named to the List of 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense (compiled over five months by more than two dozen reporters and editors representing the world’s biggest military newsroom and the award-winning staffs of Gannett Government Media’s sector-leading publications: Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times).

Your support has been appreciated. However, if focusing on form over substance is your determining factor for continuing support for MRFF, then let me extend an invitation to you in the future when you want to re-join the adults who are actually getting things done and not worrying so much on how. Until the real world environment MRFF has to operate in changes to fit your comfort level and perceptions of “adult writing”, MRFF’s work on behalf of our clients is too important and too successful to placate the squeamish.

Sincerely,

Andy Kasehagen

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3 Comments

  1. Al Foster

    Dear Mr. Kasehagen:

    I’m a veteran who strongly believes in MRFF’s mission. I have attended a talk by Mr. Weinstein, and admire both the man and his speaking prowess.

    That said, I too have winced at the almost childishly intemperate language I’ve seen in his writings. There is a lot of useful working space between effective rhetoric and “milk toast,” a fact you seem to overlook completely in your overheated defense.

    You mischaracterize “name withheld’s” accurate criticisms of the poorly written invective employed by Mr. Weinstein as a call to tone down that invective which, as anyone can plainly see, was not his point at all.

    MRFF would be better served, not by vacuous cheerleading, but by obtaining the services of an editor who might transform Mr. Weinstein’s righteous anger into effective persuasion on the printed page.

    Sincerely,

    Albert D Foster

  2. Toby Ziegler

    Dear Mr. Foster,

    No doubt the MRFF appreciates your support, as a fellow supporter I also appreciate all who support the vital work of the Foundation. As a veteran I have seen up close and personal the dire need which is vigorously addressed by Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF.

    I have had the great pleasure of actually meeting Mr. Weinstein a couple of times and hearing him speak about the current state of the U.S. Military and the oppressive tactics routinely utilized by Fundamentalist/Dominionist Christian Chaplains and Senior Officers to inflict and impose their religious beliefs on their subordinates. As a former service member who has experienced this “weaponized evangelism” personally, I don’t consider Mikey’s characterizations to be grandiose, overstatement or hyperbole; if anything my personal experience has demonstrated to me that they represent, if anything, understatement. You read that right, I said “understatement” and I meant it.

    We are all accustomed to hearing the Religious Right and their proxies on Faux News and Hate Radio refer to the fictitious “war on Christianity” and “war on Christmas,” the fact is that Fundamentalist Christians are engaged in a Crusade – a world wide war on everyone else. To hear them talk of their giddy expectations of end times is to realize they won’t stop until they’re forcibly stopped. The tragic reality is that we are at war, we are under attack by Fundamentalist/Dominionist Christianity which is determined to impose its own sick version of theocracy on America first, and then the whole world. It is a sick reality that they are actually making significant progress. And lest you think I am discussing partisan politics, one must remember that these religious extremists are also funding and supporting Democratic candidates that they’ve groomed to be their pawns, including the recent victor in the Democratic Primary for a New Jersey senate seat, Cory Booker.

    The truth is that the Foundation’s resources, both personnel and financial, are limited. All of the staff, both paid and volunteer, are working with insane work loads, dealing with a caseload that expands exponentially at an alarming rate. Much of what gets done almost has the feel of a small force laying down cover fire for insurgents. Much of what Mikey does and writes is done under extreme pressure, under fire, if you will. His use of aggressive and combat terminology is absolutely appropriate under the circumstances. I am reminded of the reality that racial equality was advanced not only by the passive efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, but by the militancy of Malcolm X; while Martin Luther King said “We shall overcome.” Malcolm X said, “No. We shall come over!” That in a nutshell is the work of the Foundation – if you are engaged in the religious oppression of others in the U.S. Military, we’re coming over!

    Mr. Foster, you characterize your critique as not one intended to encourage Mr. Weinstein to “tone down” his rhetoric, but to simply make use of an editor. However, in carefully reviewing the original note by “(name withheld)” it is clear that he/she is calling out what he/she considers overblown language. In examining each statement fragment quoted by this person any erudite individual can see clearly that there are no mixed metaphors, no contradictory adjectives, nothing but strongly worded statements that are filled with passion, anger, and the bitter truth. The truth is I’m addressing your concerns here because I’ve worked professionally as an editor. Oh sure there are times I wish I could tweak something Mikey has written or said. However, I never cease to be amazed at his prose when I remind myself his communications are all from the front lines of an all out battle against the foes of liberty and freedom; they are dispatches from a war zone.

    Mr. Weinstein is constantly under fire, even from so-called supporters like you, Mr. Foster. His home and his vehicles are literally, physically attacked, he and his family threatened with death on a regular basis and he works nearly around the clock, seven days a week against a determined and intransigent enemy that has established beachheads within our very government. I dare anyone to try to do better under such pressure. And if you still think things could be handled better, why not stop criticizing and roll up your sleeves and get busy volunteering? Why take potshots from the sidelines against a man and a cause you claim to support when you can put on your helmet and get in the game? If you think this cause could be advocated for more eloquently, why not get busy and start writing letters to the editor, letters to your congressmen and women, even writing comments in support of the Foundation on sites like this one? If you’re a true supporter, get busy and get down to work. A little financial support goes a long way with this organization; however, a little volunteering even goes further. Why not do both? Better still, why not do both and also stop taking pot shots in public? These days it comes down to this: whose side are you on? Personally, I’m on the side of the Foundation, on Mikey’s side, on the side of justice and on the side of freedom; why not join me?

    If you prefer to stand on the sidelines and take pot shots, Mr.Foster, then you are my enemy. There is nothing so dangerous as the silence of those of supposedly good will in the presence of oppression. But you haven’t just remained silent, you have been playing armchair quarterback and telling yourself that you’re actually helping. That is a typical delusion of the complacent today – feeling superior for critiquing others’ decisions during the game, while in fact they’re pathetic, never suiting up, content to sit in their living room, in front of the TV, getting drunk on cheap beer and self-satisfaction. I feel sorry for you, Mr. Foster. Can’t you even imagine doing more? Can’t you even muster the courage to suit up and get in the game?

    As for me, I have a clear conscience. I do what I can and I refuse to criticize those who are fighting alongside me. Having served on active duty in the military I am familiar with principles like loyalty and team work. I’ve heard much more colorful language coming from NCOs and superior officers every day and never once felt embarrassed. In fact I felt proud that they took threats against American security and sovereignty seriously. And no one takes the threat against American Liberty more seriously than Mikey Weinstein. I couldn’t be prouder that he’s at the helm, steering the Foundation on a true and righteous course. Let the enemies of justice and liberty complain, fear and tremble, because we are coming over!

    Respectfully,

    Toby Zeigler

  3. Al Foster

    Dear Mr. Zeigler:

    “… so-called supporters like you … stand on the sidelines and take pot shots … whose side are you on? … complacent … pathetic … content to sit in their living room, in front of the TV, getting drunk on cheap beer and self-satisfaction.”

    With your mystical powers of deduction that from my letter revealed the foregoing, I can’t believe you neglected mention of my penchant for pinching puppies’ tails, spending my days peeking suspiciously out the window, and sneering at “good Americans,” as I twirl my stage-villain mustache.

    Mr. Zeigler, the point of my comment was this, and only this: with the written word as in surgery, a deftly wielded scalpel is far more effectual than a wildly swinging meat axe.

    By responding with an essentially boilerplate, how-dare-you-say-anything-negative muddle of hyper-loyalist rhetoric — not to mention comical imputations about my perceived character — you have admirably proven my point for me.

    I will continue to support MRFF, and will always admire Mr. Weinstein for his courage, determination, and for those talents he possesses. I will do so in spite of of your scattershot screed, not due to it.

    Sincerely,

    Albert D Foster

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