As Brad notes we've been working on this story together in that I have been passing on the hate mail to him sent to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). I'm on the advisory board of MRFF, as both the father of a US Marine and as a former religious right leader (long since out of that movement) who is keenly aware of the danger the religious right poses to this country.
I challenge the mainstream media to pick up and report this sordid tale of of hate and intimidation against Mikey Weinstein who is an American military vet and who is trying to save our soldiers' lives -- by protecting them from far right proselytizing "Christians" that will expose our men and women in uniform to even more attacks by Islamist extremists who don't need any encouragement in their claim the US is on a "crusade".
What's all this about? The Bible verses on American military gun sights. Read the story here about what happens when an American angers the far religious right and their henchmen. Here's the story as Brad just posted it at The BRAD BLOG
By Brad Friedman
The emails to MRFF below were shared with me via Frank Schaeffer, the reformed religious Rightwing leader and author, a frequent guest blogger at The BRAD BLOG, and a member of MRFF's Advisory Board.
The first disturbing email below is from a U.S. soldier who happens to be a Caucasian Muslim, horrified by the dangers of having such verse referenced on military equipment used in the Middle East, particularly in the event of capture. The soldier shares an appalling alleged account of his superior officer's description of the weapon as the "the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ." All the better, said the officer according to the soldier, than what they might have received, since "Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a 'pussy "Jewzzi" (combination of the word 'Jew' and Israeli made weapon "Uzi").'"
That account is then followed by two very short, anti-Semitic threats sent to Weinstein in regard to the same matter, following ABC's report. Moreover, a senior company executive is said to have described MRFF as "not Christian" to ABC, according to a letter threatening legal action sent to the company by the non-profit organization which counters that it's allied with thousands of Christian troops and organizations.
All three of the email missives are horrifying, though none of them are likely to receive the time of day in the bulk of the cowardly corporate media, where the real cause and effect of the Rightwing's modern day politicized religious agenda is rarely broached in any way, shape, or form.
I should add that the horrors illustrated by these emails are likely very well known by public officials on the Right, who also abhorrently turn a blind eye to it all, in favor of the political gain it offers them.
I continue in amazement that anyone of the Jewish persuasion (which I am) in the U.S. would continue to delude themselves about the true heart of Republicanism, simply because of claims by the GOP in support of Israel. They may support Israel, my friends, but not for the reasons they've convinced you of. The folks behind the politicization of Christianity, and the use of Jesus Christ as a political bludgeon, hate Jews only slightly less than they hate A-rabs. That so many supporters of the GOP, due to their stand on Israel, still either fail to see it, or simply turn a blind eye, continues to amaze me.
The two hate mails below are a fairly representative sample of a "tsunami of vile hate," as Weinstein described it, many of which were reviewed by The BRAD BLOG, that the group has received since ABC's report. Another one of MRFF's board members, "a highly decorated former Vietnam USAF chopper rescue pilot" with "so much shrapnel in his legs that he sets off the metal detectors at airports," according to Weinstein's characterization, has tried to help him respond to some of the incoming emails. The board member writes of "A disconnect that any thinking person having experienced it would believe they were whisked back in time to the 12th Century in which religious ignorance reached it's peak and reigned over torture, genocide and all forms of tyranny."
"I soon found that my erudition had little effect on their extreme views," he said in regard to his attempts to answer the incoming emails politely with facts and reason. "It was like trying to enforce table manners at a crocodile feeding frenzy."
And finally, he admits defeat against the "tsunami." "Even though in the forefront of addressing religious misdoings for a number of years," he wrote, "I was still aghast, taken aback, astonished, chagrined and most of all scared by the vehemence displayed by American Dominionists."
Read the emails...
From: [last name redacted for privacy]
Date: January 14, 2010 9:47:17 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: "Spiritually Transformed Into The Fire Arm of Jesus Christ"
To: Mikey Wenstein and MRFF:
I am a U.S. Army infantry soldier with the rank of [rank withheld]. I am married with children. I am stationed at Fort [installation name withheld]. I have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I have been awarded medals for direct combat engagement as well as for injuries and wounds received in hand-to-hand combat.
I am a Muslim American. My family converted when I was very young. I am caucasian and have a last name that does not sound ethnic. Therefore, few of my fellow soldiers know that I am a Muslim. My wife comes from a Christian tradition but rarely practices or attends church. I have witnessed terrible religious persecution in the my [number withheld] years in the Army. Most of it comes from "angry" conservative Christians in my unit chains of command and occasionally from my fellow infantry soldiers.
I am very familiar with the Trijicon ACOG gunsights and have often had them as part of my personal weapons; both my M-4 and my M-16. In my first 2 deployments I saw and experienced no incidents regarding the New Testament bible quotes that are written on the metal casing of the gun sights. Many soldiers know of them and are very confused as to why they are there and what it is supposed to mean. Everyone is worried that if they were captured in combat that the enemy would use the bible quotes against them in captivity or some other form of propaganda.
As an American soldier I am ashamed that those bible quotes are on our primary weapons. As a Muslim American I am horrified. As one who swore his oath to the Constitution, I am driven to fight this Christian insanity but I know if I try to do so in a visible way that I will suffer at the hands of my military superiors. I am of low enlisted rank and can be crushed easily. I am prepared to suffer, but I am not prepared for my wife and children to suffer. So I have reached out to MRFF because there is nowhere else safe to go to try to fight this thing of disgrace.
There are many other soldiers who feel as I do. Many are Protestant and Catholic and they fear reprisal just as much as I do for trying to stand up to the Christian bullies in uniform who outrank us. But if you try to fight back, you are not "asking" for trouble, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE from the start. And if you are a Muslim American, the hatred is always just below the surface and ready to explode at a moment's notice. After the Fort Hood shootings, it was so bad, even for a low profile Muslim like me, that I had to ask MRFF for help.
Nothing in my first 2 deployments prepared me for what happened with the Trijicon ACOG gun sights during my 3rd deployment to Afghanistan. I will never forget the day it occurred. It was morning and there was a mandatory formation of several companies. A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his "weapon" several times to which the senior NCO replied "and what ELSE is it"?
FInally, the senior NCO said that the private's rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been "spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ" and that we would be expected to kill every "haji" we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the "spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ" and that we should "bust open the head of every haji we find with it.'"He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a "pussy 'Jewzzi' (combination of the word 'Jew' and Israeli made weapon 'Uzi') but the "fire arm of Jesus Christ" and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights.
He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that "our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol". As a Muslim and an American soldier I was fit to be tied but I kept it in. There were many Afghans, both civilian and military, on base within earshot of what was being yelled at us and I can only wonder in shock what they must have thought.
This senior NCO was apparently also the head person of a conservative, crazy Christian group called the "Christian Military Fellowship" and made a big deal about the importance of joining to everyone. He told us all that we MUST read a book called "Under Orders" in order to make it through this combat deployment and said he had many copies for everyone. Some of my friends went and got their copies. I refused.
Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not "get right with Jesus" then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered "spiritual cripples" to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn't say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Chris in the "right way".
I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life. I have never hated myself so much for not speaking out. So I thought of my wife and children and endured. Every time I looked at my rifle with that Trijicon ACOG gunsight/scope with the biblical quote from the book of John (8:12), it would make me sick. If I had tried to protest, it would have made me dead. And if I'm dead I'm of no use to my wife and children.
And here are just two of the hate emails. There are, as I said, many more...
From: Shane [last name redacted for privacy]
Date: January 18, 2010 7:13:27 PM MST
Subject: Task Force Patriot
I am amazed with the zealotry with which you attack this poor group of old veterans. I am not amazed, though, that you are a jew.
You do not fool me, I've done my research on you and your "organization". You are no better than the ACLU and are just one small part of the effort of those that would destroy this great nation from within.
I will see you in the streets.
Shane [last name redacted for privacy]
From: Curt [last name redacted for privacy]
Date: January 22, 2010 6:32:59 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: Re: The American Muslim - Do Bible Verses on Rifle Scopes Represent Christianity?
You really love to see your name in print, don't you? In the name of God, get OVER yourself! This is the most caterwauling godless jews and pedophile mohammedans have done since the Knights Templar retook Jerusalem. You're pathetic scum. Go circumcise your neck. Oh, and would that wall be the one that the Zionist jews built in Jordon?
Since ABC's report, Trijicon, which enjoys nearly $1 billion in Pentagon contracts, has announced plans [PDF]> to remove the bible codes from the gun sights they provide to the U.S. Military in the future, and will provide "100 modification kits to the Pentagon to enable the removal of the references that are
already on products that are currently deployed."
According to the U.S. military's "General Order Number 1," troops are supposedly prohibited from proselytizing or promoting any faith or religious practice in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, that order is frequently ignored. Trijicon has been a U.S. military contractor for nearly two decades.
In a response to ABC, Trijicon's Director of Sales and Marketing, Tom Munson, reportedly responded by referencing MRFF as "not Christian." The group has taken exception to that description, as explained in a letter to the company shared with The BRAD BLOG, from an attorney whose office has been retained by MRFF. The group is now considering legal action in response to what they regard as "slander" and an attempt to "defame the Foundation or anyone associated with it."
As noted in the legal letter from Mathis & Donheister, P.C.:
Referring to the Foundation as a group which is "not Christian" is not only inaccurate and shamelessly false, but demonstrably contrary to fact. Approximately 96 percent of the Foundation's nearly 16,000 active duty military clients and enumerable additional supporters are in fact practicing Christians by faith. To state otherwise not only slanders the Foundation, but also all of its clients. Further, the Foundation's largest supporter is the California Council of Churches IMPACT, which is comprised of 5,500 Christian congregations, 21 distinct Christian denominations, and, directly and indirectly, millions of individual Christians.
In the meantime, the hate from the Right seems to be increasing by the day. The BRAD BLOG recently shared a spate of death threats and other attacks sent to the government watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us; (VR) from Fox "News" readers after Fox had run an article misrepresenting VR's campaign against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR.]
Just days later, Matt Drudge's protege and poodle Andrew Breitbart, publisher of the far Right BigGovernment.com;, Tweeted a death threat against a climate scientist. After I responded to Breitbart's tweet with my own, daring to counter him with facts about global warming, he echoed the death threat against me this time.