wonderful town of monument colorado

From: (name withheld)
Date: Thu, Apr 29, 2021 at 10:38 AM
Subject: wonderful town of monument colorado
To: <[email protected]>

–Hi Mikey,

I have lived in Monument for over (number of years withheld) years and it is an interesting place. From what I have seen in our local papers, that which is being attributed to you, your “take” on the Board is dead on center. I think that it is all “inbred” in some ways. Some of what I am about to say to you you have surely heard many times before, but it is worth repeating.

I wish that I could add my name to your list but it would only hurt my extended family which lives here.  I am in my mid-(age range withheld)’s, but others in my family who are much younger would be involved just because of our last name, just because we are Jewish.  Some of them are still in grade school. Some are in business here. We are doing well here. We have blended in. While we are known to be Jews, there has been no spotlight on us up to this point. In fact, with the younger generations, they have been teaching some of the local Christians about our theology. It has all been good. Familiarity has not brought contempt or fear. Now your actions may well have changed some of that. If you go forward, the best that I can do is to recommend that  any “representative” plaintiffs selected not be Jewish. Do not have an attorney with a Jewish name act as counsel. You have already introduced “Jewishness” into a hot button issue by saying that some of your complainants are in fact Christians. In the minds of those reading this comment by you, this means that Jews are the rest and it is they who are creating trouble, as they do everywhere that they go. By hesitating to disclose who your complanants are, this tells me that they are afraid. Does this not tell you something?  This is not rocket science.

We live here fairly peacefully and we want to continue to do so. You will come and go, fighting for what you feel is really important. We can’t and there has been enough of a fight as against a relatively soft form of antiSemitism involved  as it is. To some extent we had been “winning”. Yes, you raise all of the Constitutional protections,  but what is going to happen is that whether you win or lose, now we will only lose. We can’t win. We and others have built up a fair reputation of being socially acceptable, but our mass is very small; too small if we have to survive alone. We have somewhat blunted the sharp edge of an ingrained antiSemitism. This monument in Monument is not a blatant attempt at antiSemitism.  It is an effort by a nice 16 year old kid to do something most folks around here feel is patriotic; they don’t perceive it as primarily a religious symbol. It is partly religious but they don’t really see it through that lens. Do I like it? Of course not and I am offended by that part of it, but is it really something I want to risk my family over? Is it a  step in the wrong direction? Perhaps it is just a small step, but more likely it just retraces a path well worn into the earth around here. Is this the battle the Jews here really want to openly fight? Seems to me, from what has been attributed to you, that this is not that fight. And just how many Jews do you think are buried in that Christian oriented public cemetery? It functions like a private cemetery because we Jews have our own elsewhere in Colorado Springs. Treat it like a church because the Christians do; it’s okay that way.

The Christians here are not that “stable” and will fight to the end over this; probably the churches will join in, too. Certainly this will be the subject of a few sermons. Look at the coverage given to it by our local papers: front and middle pages coverage. It was the only real “news”.  Are you happy over this coverage? I am not; not with a minor issue which would otherwise not seriously affect the lives of the Jews around here. Obviously a few complained, but is this a seminal problem? Some folks want to fight about everything but they often forget the cost to do so. This part of Colorado is deeply Christian, even some of our Christian friends complain of this. We are often viewed as an acceptable novelty. It seems to work. Your fighting for something you feel is important is wonderful. If my family was not going to be in the middle of this then I would understand. But this is my backyard and you don’t even live here. You get to walk away. Yes, you represent some who do live here but I really doubt that they have thought this through, especially in this political climate, with this rise of white supremacy.  As a lawyer, especially a Jewish one, that is part of your job. Legaleze is fine, but practicality should predominate. Have you told them what could happen? Do you even really know? I doubt it. The “establishment” here is not great but it is not that bad. Why cause them to become worse, for you have now given them a reason to do so. They are not moving out. Now, dare any more of us move in if we can move elsewhere?  Monument was not at a critical point where this monument was a game changer; but now it might be, it could be.  Why make it so?.

I doubt that you have lived where this type of a fight could permanently change things for more than just a very few. It doesn’t sound as if your military life qualifies. I was there long before you were, so I know. Yes, social justice is wonderful and any discrimination is wrong, but why would you want to shoot me in the foot to get it? It is my foot, not yours which is being shot.  Yes, there is often collateral damage, but from the actions of your Jewish clients it appears that they will also be damaged so none of us are collateral from that perspective. And they are afraid of being hurt in this process. Yes, things need to change but this issue will not change them.  Pick the right fight; this isn’t it. You are fighting with a 16 year old kid (as I explain below and as you well know). You are being out maneuvered because they are making it very personal, with him.

Let me tell you a little bit about me. When I was a child we lived in a  town very  much like Monument. Very Christian. My family fought a few such battles and though we “won” on occasion, in the end we lost almost everything. We never fully recovered . I still have a few scars, literally and figuratively. The local churches came after us; we lost a thriving business; as a 5-7 year old kid  I had too many school “issues” dealing with far too many bigger faster kids all ganging up on me; no help from the teachers, etc. I don’t want my family to again have such problems. Until now, this was not on the horizon; now you make it so. And for what?  Even your clients are probably rethinking and I don’t blame them. Ask them.

As a retired trial-type lawyer (over (number of years withheld) years of practice)/former (military branch withheld) guy (3 year volunteer in the Intelligence Corps, (year range withheld)- this after law school which we paid for) let me again caution you about the probable collateral damage issue. That may well be my openly Jewish family and the other openly Jewish people who live/work in Monument. Yes, I had to face some of the same “issues” you and you sons faced at the Academy (which I see every day from my windows). I have warned my eldest grandson of these potential problems as he is completing basic training on his 6 year enlistment: I have warned him that not every fight is worth fighting, especially when it is not your skin in the game but someone else’s; you have to make value judgments each time before you engage. We probably will not be able to”hide”, unlike the others who have complained through you. Who do you think these hard right folks will see? Us. Who is most likely to have some explaining to do? Us. And we did not bring on this issue; others did through you.

Sorry, but I question your judgment though not your motive. This looks like you are attacking a 16 year old kid who was trying to do something good in order to become an Eagle Scout.  This is how the local folks are portraying it no matter what your claims may be, no matter who else may have been at fault or partly to blame. In the end, this is all that counts for those whom you are putting at risk.  You should have realized this before you began to make any noises. As I told my eldest grandson when he was first learning to play chess, as I tried to do before I took on any case or filed any suit: look at the whole board and not just the few individual pieces when you consider making any move or you will likely lose the game. Here, from my view, you are facing 3 queens and all that you have are a couple of pawns you have yet to move, all of this in a game not really worth playing in the first place.

Mikey, with this activity on your part think about what damage you have already caused and what will probably come of it. Even if you “win” this one it will only tarnish your armour. You will be fighting with a nice 16 year old kid.  Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Best withdraw from this field of combat as gracefully as you can, as honorably as you can and as quickly as you can; but withdraw. There are other more important, more consequential and more effective battles you should be spending your time and energy on. Monument is a very small place; a very conservative Christian one. You will not change its nature; you will only make it more entrenched. There are not enough of us here to make this fight worthwhile. You will only aggravate. This is not going to be any gamechanger for the system as a whole. You should have known this already. I hope that you do now. Sorry pal.


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

Dear Mr. (name withheld),

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mike Farrell. I am an American of Irish heritage who was raised in the Catholic faith but no longer so identify. I am an ex-Marine and a human rights activist with a list of organizational affiliations too long to list here, but for the record I proudly serve as a member of the MRFF Board of Advisors.

At Mikey’s request I have read your message to him and have had two conversations with him about it. Mikey is my friend and I understand, both from reading your message and from hearing the anguish in his voice when we talked about it, why he has chosen not to respond to you personally but asked me to do so instead. You should be glad he made that choice.

To begin at the end, you are not Mikey’s “pal”. Ending an extremely lengthy accommodationist tract with a word implying mutuality yet tinged with superiority mixed with a desire to pretend at realpolitik is exactly the sort of posture that boils my friend’s blood. He has spared you that.

As you put it, you and your family “are doing well here” in this “wonderful town” and “have blended in.” While “known to be Jews, there has been no spotlight on us up to this point.” “Familiarity has not brought contempt or fear” but the MRFF’s “actions may well have changed some of that.”

So, in the event the MRFF continues pressing this issue, you urge that any named “plaintiffs selected not be Jewish,” nor should we “have an attorney with a Jewish name” as counsel because we “have already introduced ‘Jewishness’ into a hot button issue”. A “hot button issue” the MRFF created, apparently, by noting that the majority of the original complaining parties, those who came to us in the first place concerned about an overtly religious monument in a government owned and operated facility, “are in fact Christians.” This says, you assert, that “in the minds of those reading this comment… Jews are the rest (of the complainants) and that they are creating trouble…”

Really? Might the others not be atheists or spiritualists, possibly even Catholics or those of another unacceptable belief system or no faith at all “in the minds of those reading this comment”? Is it only Jews “who are creating trouble… in this wonderful town”? Surely not, because as you say, you have only had to deal with “a relatively soft form of anti-Semitism.” For which, one must assume, you praise G-d, though very quietly.

You go on to assert that because we do not name our complainants it means “they are afraid.” We rarely name our complainants unless the law requires it. But what would they have to fear in this “wonderful town” which you claim now has only “a relatively soft form of anti-Semitism”? (One wonders just what a “soft form of anti-Semitism” actually is.)

You further suggest that because of our action on behalf of some of your neighbors, despite the fact that “We and others have built up a fair reputation of being socially acceptable…” and having “somewhat blunted the sharp edge of an ingrained anti-Semitism…” “now we will only lose. We can’t win.”

Mr.(name withheld), please understand I am not enjoying this. Your defeatism is no surprise as you appear to have made capitulation a way of life. That makes you the polar opposite of Mikey Weinstein.

The story of your young life in “a town very much like Monument. Very Christian.” Is tragic. A few battles won but ultimately everything lost. Pursuit by churches, business failures, facing bias at school and brutalized by kids. As you put it, “we never fully recovered.” All of it left you with “a few scars, literally and figuratively,” and the admirable desire to protect your family from “such problems.” But while those scars appear to have left you with a need to bow to the bullies, doff your hat, make nice and pretend not to notice the slurs, for Mikey Weinstein those same scars are medals of honor, each representing a time he proudly stood his ground.

And the ground on which he proudly stands is America, its laws and its Constitution. He does it for his children and his family and for me and for you. Your suggestion that “you don’t even live here. You get to walk away” is repellent. The ignorance you display by saying “I doubt that you have lived where this type of a fight could permanently change things for more than just a very few” is infuriating. Mikey’s willingness to take on what you call the “good folks,” the white supremacists and the Christian supremacists, means he and his family live inside a 24-hour security cordon; that he has bodyguards when he travels; that he endures not just lawsuits but ongoing death threats and has experienced having shots fired at his home more times than I can count.

You taught your grandson that not every fight is worth fighting; your neighbors decided this fight was worth fighting and came to us. We are not “attacking a 16 year old kid who was trying to do something nice in order to become an Eagle Scout.” The fact that “This is how the local folks are portraying it” doesn’t make it true. Their need to do so says a lot about the “local folks” in your “wonderful town.” It also, sadly, says a great deal about those who choose to kneel to the bullies.

The issue, Mr.(name withheld), is the law. It’s about the separation of church and state. And despite what the “good folks” want to obscure, it’s about their failure to live up to an opportunity to provide a teachable moment for “a 16 year old kid who was trying to do something nice in order to become an Eagle Scout.” He, clearly, didn’t understand the line he was crossing and would have profited, along with the “good folks” of your “wonderful town,” had one of them explained it to him and taken the time to help him sort it out. Instead, they chose to twist the facts and portray it as an assault on their religion. In the face of which, you, instead of standing up, speaking the truth and exposing the duplicity of the “good folks,” have chosen to hide your face (and your name) and blame Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF.

This is shameful.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)


Mr.(name withheld)

I meant to attach the below quote from one of my heroes, I hope it has meaning for you.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

“… the most deeply human and courageous men and women are those who in life and death dare to submit themselves to the ordeal of walking through the fire of selfhood, of loneliness and tragedy.  In their example we can learn… that this life, this world, for all of its cynicism and stupidity and anguish, is also a place where change is possible, where one can take on a host of evils, even death itself.  There is no guarantee of victory, but there is a choice: one either collaborates with the enemy… with whatever is miserable or inhumane, or one joins the resistance.  To be most deeply human is to be among the resisters, to resist whatever demeans life.  And that will lead us to become aware of what one human being owes to another, can mean to another, and to have compassion for all people – all of us – in our terrible fragility.”

                                                                                    Rabbi Leonard Beerman


Response from Jackie Jacobs, Executive Director Emeritus, Columbus Jewish Foundation

Dear Mr. (name withheld)   

Despite your Army experience, Intelligence training, legal background, gamesmanship, hard knocks, and long life, you are a self-absorbed coward.    

I read your letter to Mikey Weinstein in which you advised him to deny his principles (with which you don’t disagree), hide his Jewish identity, and hire non-Jews and those with non-Jewish names to fight our battles— all in the interest of preserving an un-cozy illusion of comfort for yourself and your family in your backward-thinking shtetl.

You wrote, “Yes, social justice is wonderful and any discrimination is wrong, but why would you want to shoot me in the foot to get it? It is my foot, not yours which is being shot.” .

Is this the sum total of what you stand for?  Is “pick your battles” the moral counsel and legal advise you would have given Abraham Lincoln? Martin Luther King?  Eli Wiesel?  After a life measuring more than four score years, shall this be your epitaph?

According to the FBI’s most recently updated report on hate crimes (December 2020), the vast majority of the offences — 60.3% — were motivated by anti-Jewish bias.  Note that none these incidents was provoked by the Jewish victims or by Mikey Weinstein, so don’t blame them for creating such hatred!

If you or your family happen to be re-invited to teach your neighbors about Jewish theology, perhaps you can muster up the courage to share the ethics of our fathers with them, as taught by Hillel, one of our most influential and beloved rabbis and biblical commentators.  Rabbi Hillel is the author of two sayings, both of which ring true to this day:

1. That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah.  The rest is the explanation; go and learn.

2. If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

Rabbi Hillel did not preach that the solution to anti-Semitism is for Jews to conceal their identity or hide their worship and practices.  Nor did he condemn those who are faithful to our highest precepts.

Hillel’s words inspired the Columbus Jewish Foundation thirteen years ago to become the first Jewish organization to support the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.   I and the leadership of the Columbus Jewish Foundation then challenged, and still challenge, those who share your misguided belief that Jews like Mikey Weinstein should fly low and slow, under the radar screen.  (In years gone by, Henry Ford and Charles Lindberg would have been impressed with such myopia.) Our proud public stand is that it is delusional to think that silence will cure a wrong.  Unlike you, Mikey Weinstein is a hero who deserves our support.  Unlike you, he has guts, conviction, moral turpitude, and courage.

We must not condone those who, in the interest of achieving “social acceptability” would cozy up to the very perpetrators who wish to harm us.  And we condemn those who call us “trouble makers” for being proud Jewish Americans. Such sentiments are shameful.

According to the FBI’s most recently updated report on hate crimes, (December 2020), the vast majority of offences — 60.3% — were motivated by anti-Jewish bias.

Those who blame the Jews for bring this upon themselves are fools.  Had Moses had not challenged Pharaoh, we would still be slaves.  Rather than hide your head in the sand, perhaps it is not too late for you to become a mensch.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And being only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

Sincerely,

Jackie Jacobs
Executive Director Emeritus
Columbus Jewish Foundation
Columbus, Ohio


Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

Mr. (name withheld) –

It is apparent from your submissive sermonette you do not comprehend or appreciate the purpose of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation established by our Founder & President Mikey Weinstein over 15 years ago. We are a constitutional civil rights rights organization dedicated solely to defending the religious freedom of American military men & women guaranteed by the United States Constitution which includes freedom from government imposed religion. We have responded to religious freedom complaints from over 73,000 military men & women (95% Christians) & sought violator compliance with the Constitution, American law, military regulations &, in this case Department of Defense regulatory directives. For this pro bono advocacy, the Foundation has been officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 7 times.

Your specious suggestion to ignore complaints from your fellow Monument citizens about the unlawful attempts to publicly impose a version of religion on government owned & maintained property as government endorsed is morally misdirected. You should have the courage & conviction to complain to the adults who lacked the integrity to advise a well-intended young Eagle Scout his project could not be placed on government owned & maintained property as government endorsed because it was unlawful & has been since ratification of the Constitution 1st Amendment in 1791. Additionally, the illicit use of Department of Defense logos on this “Veterans Memorial” further exacerbates the unconstitutional endorsement of one religious faith over all other faith & non-faith traditions.

In referencing the ruinous reign of Hitler’s Third Reich during World War II, Winston Churchill wisely warned that “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” He also adroitly advised that “One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred with only opinions.” Mikey Weinstein & the hundreds who work with him at the Foundation have this conviction. Sadly, Sir, you have only appeasement.

Brigadier General John Compere, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review & US Army Legal Services Agency
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (84% Christians)


Response from Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman, Chaplain, Col, (Ret) USAF

Dear (name withheld):

Mikey Weinstein forwarded your lengthy email to me and asked me if I would respond.  Having read what you wrote, I have only a few things to say.  The first is, “Gear up!”  What you wrote reminded me of those days when I lived in the South and in Cincinnati.  When some Jews were confronted with antisemitism, their response, much like yours, was “Sha-still,: “hush, ignore, be quiet and maybe they’ll just go away and leave us alone.”  The answer, Harvey, isn’t to put our heads in the sand and hope that the bigots won’t hurt us.  There are always people who blame us Jews, whether they live in Monument, Colorado, or at Harvard University.  They will use any pretext to blame us, curse us and even attack us physically.

If we learned nothing in these post-Holocaust years, Harvey, it’s that we must know how to fight and/or to fight back.  In your lifetime and given your childhood, you learned that “Sha-still” was a way to navigate in that day and with those people. In this day and age, the people of Israel have regained a spirit that wasn’t known to Jews in America as you were growing up.   While Monument clearly isn’t Israel, you have resources that, if you truly need them, can help you to make a better community than the one you live in and, to some degree, fear.

Were I in your shoes, the first thing I would do is to call Scott Levin at the ADL (Anti-defamation League) in Denver and apprise him of your situation and the fears you have.  I would listen very carefully to the advice he might give you because no one has the right to discriminate against you or threaten you because you are a Jew or because of what someone else, who happens to be Jewish, is doing.

You blame Mikey for stirring up trouble in Monument.  I think that the Boy Scout advisors and town leaders have created the problem and, instead of stone walling and throwing around accusations and making end-runs around the law and the Constitution, they merely should quietly have admitted their mistake and corrected it.  If they come after you and yours, it is upon you to defend yourself.  The ADL will help you to do that; but “Sha-still” will only encourage your detractors and tell them that, like a wounded animal, you’ll not fight back but will cower to them begging them, “Please don’t hurt me.”  That is like throwing blood to sharks.

To some degree you must hold a mirror to the people of Monument.  You may find that you have more allies there than you would ever have known.  There are also people living there who are so stilted in their religious beliefs that they present dangers to people who don’t believe as they do.  They always have and they always will.   The key often is to expose them.  I would let them exclude you in any way.

During my years at the Air Force Academy and over my twenty-three and a half years on Active Duty, I dealt with bigots no less vicious than anywhere else in this world.  I learned to use the system against these people and I did so successfully. I wore my Tablets and Star insignia on my shirt; so, everyone knew what I was.  Some also learned who I was. The bases and towns I lived in were sometimes no bigger than Monument.  I’m not as old as you being in my seventies, but I sworn never to buckle in the face of bigotry, and I haven’t.  After it all, I can hold my head up in dignity and respect myself as a Jew.

Lastly, the fight in Monument is not with you and yours, and you need to be clear about that. Mikey fights because people ask him for his help.  His organization doesn’t go looking for trouble, but, as you know, it doesn’t back away or back down when they find it.  What you’ve done in your email is to displace the wrong from those who are acting outside the Constitution of this country and the rules of the Defense Department and put the blame for whatever transpires on Mikey and the MRFF.  You make it sound that this isn’t important enough to fight for; but, it is, and you know that to lose is only to embolden those who would seek to besmirch us as Jews even to the point of acting out physically against us.  I as a Colorado resident who lives in a small Colorado town refuse to knuckle under over issues of principle.  That’s the crux of this issue; not Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF’s challenges to the wrongful acts that have occurred.

I said at the start of this email that I think that you ought to gear up.  For all you know, this fight may not even come to your doorstep, but if it does, you ought to know that you don’t have to go it alone.  There are people who have dealt with situations like this before, and their response to you will help you to go beyond “Sha-still,” and be able to live a respected life in Monument.

Be well.  Stay well!

Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman
Ch, Col, (Ret) USAF


Response from MRFF Supporter Renee Reif

On May 4, 2021, at 6:06 PM,  (e mail address withheld) wrote:

My dear fellow Coloradan,

I’ve spent a few days mulling over your letter to Mikey Weinstein at the MRFF, trying to understand your point of view, when my guts want to scream at you.

I understand your fear. I want you to know that I get it; we live in the “ground zero” of the religious right. I don’t have to tell you about the anti-semitic things going on in Colorado.

I’m also familiar with Monument.  I’ve spent days and evenings there at the home of atheist friends off and on for years.  Monumental Miniatures is my favorite store in the whole world.  I’ve actually been casually looking for houses in Monument because it is more like my home of record.

You must know that our military is now among the most diverse institutions in the country, including service members of ALL belief systems, to include thousands of members who do not subscribe to any of the Abrahamic religions.

I am truly disturbed by your letter. You see, as a Humanist of Jewish heritage and a retired female veteran, I’ve been through the proverbial gamut, both in uniform and out of uniform.  In 2011 when I graduated with my masters degree, I was applying to the county for public administration jobs, and discovered that one of our county commissioners was trying to find a way to deny contraception to county employees.  That floored me because government is supposed to be neutral.  That was when I began to learn about church-state separation and how it affects nearly every single area of life.

It was 2012 when Georgia passed a bill into law, HB954, the “women as livestock” bill, as some refer to it. This law requires pregnant women to carry a dead fetus or a fetus that is not expected to survive to term.  This goes against nearly all medical advice; apparently we are chattel to Georgia Rep. Terry England.  How appropriate.  Vanessa Guillen was murdered last year at Fort Hood, and the Army didn’t care until her family went public. She was murdered by her peers, who were sexually harassing her. She needed help, but of course, the military still treats us as chattel to this day.  LaVena Johnson was murdered by her peers in Iraq after being sexually assaulted by them. You see, the culture in our society, both in and out of the military still treats women as less.  Patriarchy that is largely rooted in religion wants to deny me the right to contraception, even though I wore a uniform to protect the personal rights of the very people who want to take mine away.  Religious nationalists want to take away my voice, my right to vote, my right to self-determination, even though I wore a uniform to protect those very rights for the very people who want to take mine away.

When we’re in uniform, we can’t use our voices to help others. We saw what happened to NavalCaptain Brett E. Crozier, commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, when he tried to get help for his crew during a Covid-19 outbreak.  Then there was Army LTC Alexander Semyon Vindman, who was doing his duty for ALL of us. And we ALL let him down.

As veterans, however we have a DUTY to use our voices.  Those of us who have the ability must continue the vigilance, the battles, not just for our civilians, but for OTHER VETERANS and those who are still in uniform.  I didn’t wear the uniform for 20 years and serve as an army wife for 19 years only to have MY service invalidated by my government, my rights eroded by the Christian nationalists who enjoy near-perfect privilege, and to watch our country, MY country become authoritarian.  To watch MY government serve only those deemed worthy. We’ve already watched Mitch McConnell stack the courts, and Doug Lamborn is as religious dominionist as they get.  I can’t fight that battle myself- but one of the most honorable veterans I know, Michael Weinstein, is able to take on these battles.  He and his family risk their lives regularly, dealing with threats against their lives and the irrational hostility that religious nationalists cowardly spew.

And these religious nationalists, including Doug Lamborn, don’t care about atheist veterans, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Native American, pagan, or any other veterans who believe differently than he does. Have you ever been to his Colorado Springs office? This man uses the language of religion, but he is not a Christian. He lacks humanity.

There are so many “small things” going on around this country, and we’re lucky that our experiment in freedom survived the Trump years. But it isn’t over.

You must realize that Hitler didn’t wake up one day suddenly in complete power. Auschwitz and all the other camps and ghettos didn’t suddenly spring up over night. It all begins with SMALL THINGS. You may be unaware that that SAME process is happening in America, and it is institutions like Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, and, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that keep ETERNAL VIGILANCE and continue tirelessly to deny authoritarians like Trump, DeVos, Barr, and yes, Doug Lamborn, from fully instituting an autocracy.  They fight against those “small things,” like the religious monuments on government property, the property of the people, because all those small things add up and gradually gain power in our government.  Google “7 Mountains Mandate” for information on just one of many demographics trying to get into positions of power in this country.  The take-over begins in small everyday areas of life, like the Monument cemetery.  The adults involved in this would rather alienate all nonChristian veterans than admit a mistake and work to fix it.

We can just get over it. It’s just a small thing. Like when they added “Under God” to the pledge.  Like when Truman signed into law The National Day of Prayer designated by the United States Congress, which “asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” Did you know that this prayer day’s website states SPECIFICALLY:

It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.”

 We just get over it-Jews and Muslims must also get over it, despite the fact that Muslims helped build this country.  These people don’t even know what the phrase “judeo-christian” means. It’s almost contradictory, especially since many of the very people using it are themselves, anti-semitic.

Bush Jr. established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. We get over it.

Then there’s the Bladensburg Cross in Maryland.  It’s a total slap in the face to all non-Christian service members who gave their lives. Apparently their service has less value.

It’s the Hobby Lobbies and the Masterpiece bakers.  It’s the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” law implemented by Clinton- just small, inconsequential, right? Remember Trump’s ban on trans-gender people in the military?

There’s a current case of a taxpayer funded child placement agency denying a perfect Catholic family the ability to foster children because they require clients to be evangelical Protestant. (Fulton v. City of Philadelphia).

Remember when Protestant prayer was mandatory in public schools?  Ellery Schempp and his family are among the brave Americans who took a stand on this issue. (Abington School District v Schempp). I recommend Mr. Schempp’s book “Ellery’s Protest.”

Just before Ellery’s case, there was Engle v Vitale and around the same time frame we had Murray v Curlett.  None of these cases went from “bad-day-at-school” to the SCOTUS over night.  Mr. Schempp used his First Amendment right and civil disobedience to start the wheels of Justice turning. He was brave.

We saw the religious nationalists and white supremacists come out of the woodwork during Trump’s tenure, but the numbers of hate groups in the US were already increasing during Obama’s tenure.  While we cannot always change hearts and minds, we ARE making progress-even here in El Paso county!

Church/state separation benefits EVERYONE, whether they understand this or not. Every success in church/state separation cases benefits EVERY OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC IN AMERICA.

I wonder what would have happened to the over 300 Jews in Warsaw saved by Antonina and Dr. Jan Zabinski had they not risked their own lives.  Did you know that more than 6500 Polish men and women risked their lives to save more than 100,000 Jews?  Just because something has risk does not mean it isn’t the right thing to do.

You can sit back and feign defeat, but all the Harriet Tubmans out there, all the Ellery Schempps out there, all the Rosa Parkses, the MLKs, Harvey Milks out there… the Gandhi’s, John Lewises, the Ruth Bader Ginsburgs, and the Mikey Weinsteins out there will continue the battle to protect people like me AND YOU, all while suffering constant threats to their own lives.

A veteran himself, Mikey and the MRFF value my service and the service of ALL veterans and work tirelessly to protect our rights and I will continue to support them in any way I possibly can. As a retired veteran, a veteran’s daughter, and a former active duty army wife, I know the meaning of sacrifice. Understand that our sacrifice isn’t just for civilians, but it is also for ourselves; I also get the benefit of a neutral government that doesn’t put the beliefs of others over my own and that of my family.  That includes the town of Monument; they must be neutral.

I want to leave you with some thoughts:  Did you ever see the Lord of the Rings movies?  There’s an exchange between Samwise and Frodo:

Frodo: “I can’t do this, Sam.”

            Sam: “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.”

Frodo: “What are we holding on to, Sam?”

Sam: “That there’s some good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for.”

And this:

A knight is sworn to Valor.

His heart know only virtue.

His blade defends the helpless.

His might upholds the weak.

His word speaks only truth.

His wrath undoes the wicked.

Renee Reif

Activist and long time MRFF supporter
-“Get into politics as if your life depended on it.  It does.” Justin Dart, Disability Rights Activist
-“When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free.” ~Charles Evans Hughes
-“Obstacles are those terrible things you see when you take your eyes off the goal”.”~Dr. Temple Grandin quoting a saying on the art building wall at Arizona State University in the 1970’s
-“You have to have a hell of a lot of drive and single-mindedness to do this, because everything in the world will get in the way to stop you.” ~David Rootes, veteran polar guide with Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. NORM R. ALLEN JR.

    This Jewish man reminds me of those Blacks and Whites who did not want Martin Luther King and other trouble-making outsiders coming into their neck of the woods to upset the good White (supremacist) folks. Has he learned nothing from history? Every just cause needs heroes like Mikey.

  2. A.L. Hern

    “Name Withheld”s letter could have been written by a German Jew in the first years after the Nazis came to power, a jew who believed that if he just kept his head down, mumbled pieties about being a good German who fought for the Kaiser in World War I just like Hitler and Goering did, everything would be fine.

    And one day that go-along-to-get-along German Jew found himself being shipped to a concentration camp where he was worked to death, or machine-gunned or gassed, then incinerated like the rubbish the Nazis considered him to be.

    Mr “Name Withheld” is also like the kid who submits endlessly to the abuse by a schoolyard bully because he’s afraid that if he punches him in the nose, he’ll make him angry, ignoring the time-worn truth that a bully who received no pushback is encouraged to become an even more abusive bully. Most bullies are cowards, and the only thing that will get them to stop is having their noses bloodied.

  3. Jeff

    Name Withheld will hopefully someday realize that the reason he needed to have that talk with his grandson about how to deal with his town’s anti-Jewish bigotry is because of the long history of accommodating said bigotry. And it isn’t going to be surprising to any of us when the grandson will grow up to find he needs to have the same talk with his own children and grandchildren. The longer abuse is accommodated, the more ingrained it becomes in the community, and the more difficult it is for the victims to live there, as the perpetrators feel they have license to do as they wish.

  4. STAN LEVIN

    Good morning, Mike and Mikey…
    Some of this overwhelms me with revulsion.
    There must be something in the DNA of the Jewish persuasion that compels people to delude themselves that backing off is some kind of a good strategy to save yourself from your worst fears. It is common (in my experience) to witness Jews surrendering their very humanity to avoids trouble. There was hateful anti-Jewish violence in my Philadelphia neighborhood. The almost nightly raids were small marauding gangs of (Catholic) young men targeting any man or boy they came across. Caught on the street, unable to escape, we got the shit beat out of us. One of my memories is of being alongside Sidney Allen, a big kid, as he was pummelled in his face with a hand-held brick. Along came WWii and the draft. Kids, no longer kids, went off to war. When they returned to their old neighborhood, they had been transformed into hardened warriers. The visiting hoodlums thereafter faced unanticipated retribution, and the violent attacks ended.

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