USA today comments

Mr Weinstein,
Copied from USA today:

“This is propaganda of unparalleled proportions for ISIS,” Weinstein said. “This message is going to kill Americans and kill innocents.”

Your remarks are out of line sir. While I completely understand you may be upset regarding the unauthorized video of Mr Mcdougall promoting his recent book, it is not the remarks that will kill Americans, it is ISIS, and all those that stand against the freedoms the U.S. And even your organization represent.
Consider the Nazi response to someone declaring they were Jewish. Is the declaration itself what killed them, or got other Jewish people killed.
We, as a people profess, support and defend our freedoms and way of life. I believe this to be the basis for your organization as well. Your remarks, however, make you look foolish and weaken your own foundation. I
 would rather believe an academy honors graduate and former service member who served to protect our freedoms could do better. Please reconsider your remarks and your future remarks before you undo yourself and us.
Respectfully,
(name withheld)

Good day, (name withheld),

Thanks for taking the time to write to the MRFF and express your concerns.  Mikey Weinstein has read your email and asked if I’d offer a reply.  I’m a USAF veteran, USAF Academy graduate (’85), and today a senior executive with a global logistics company. I’m also a lifelong, ardent and committed Christian.
I can understand, on a certain level, why you might feel Mikey’s comments were out of line.  It was not his intent to mitigate the accountability or excuse our enemies for the violence they commit… nor was it his intent to suggest in any way that the victims of sectarian violence brought it on themselves.  We agree with you 100% that the forces that seek to bring violence to America and its allies are responsible for their own actions.
That said, it remains equally true that the conflicts in which we find ourselves are being fought in a variety of ways and venues.  One of those battlegrounds is words, impressions, and opinion.  And in that realm, statements (and related actions) can mean a great deal.
I would hope you agree that America is NOT engaged in a religious war with the violent factions of Islam.  But I’d hope that you can also recognize that there are some sectarian groups in America that DO frame the conflict in religious terms, and who DO wish for our ‘mission’ to be a battle between Christianity and Islam.  That misguided desire plays entirely into the hands of the religious zealots on the other side of the conflict.
Even more importantly, though, is the risk of creating confusion among Americans, our allies, and other groups around the globe about our purpose in opposing ISIS and other terror groups.  We are on the side of right and good when we act on the global stage to defend human rights, and to challenge terror and violence.  But we will only contribute to the sectarian conflict if we allow our message to be twisted into one of “my God is bigger than his” (an unfortunate statement by former Army General Jerry Boykin).
Similar to Gen Boykin’s unfortunate and inappropriate statement, Chaplain McDougall did a grave disservice to the American effort by conflating his Christian beliefs with the role of the US military.  He says that he wrote his book to counter a perception that “the Jesus of many churches is a weakling — someone our Rangers cannot relate to.”  All well and good, except he hasn’t just promoted the notion of a “strong Jesus”.  He said that “Jesus was an Airborne Ranger”… and then appeared in a promotional video in uniform and with no disclaimer that there was no official sanction by the US military, to promote the notion that Jesus and the Airborne Rangers are inexorably linked.   (For what it’s worth, in my view, even such a disclaimer in small print at the end of the video, as apparently appeared in the book, does little so mitigate the confusion).
The bottom line is that the actions of Chaplain McDougall, however well-meaning, contribute to the false notion that America is engaged in a religious struggle… and that can only add to the risk faced by Americans, both here and overseas.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

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