The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog has an excerpt from No Snowflake in an Avalanche, the new book by Mikey Weinstein and Davin Seay. Mikey has also been invited to write a bi-weekly column for “On Faith,” which will be starting soon. This book excerpt is about how and why Mikey founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation back in 2005. Curtis and Casey, mentioned in the excerpt, are Mikey’s sons, both of whom were cadets at the Air Force Academy at the time.
The RSVP program might have provided, at least for the time being, a flimsy fig leaf behind which the Academy’s hardcore fundamentalists could hide. But there was no disguising the continued and escalating atmosphere of sectarian chauvinism that was strangling the constitutionally protected liberties of the cadets, as well as any staff member who dared to dissent against the prevailing militancy of the institution’s spiritual elite.
A kind of Orwellian doublespeak prevailed: an outward endorsement of religious plurality, as personified by the RSVP’s transparent charade, hiding a noxious and deeply rooted intolerance for any opposition to the established orthodoxy, inviting instead a triumphant Jesus Christ to lead a vengeful army of the righteous in the total war against the heathen in their midst.
It was hardly surprising that, given the hostile and volatile environment being actively fostered at the Academy, the number of nakedly anti-Semitic incidents to which Weinstein was often anonymously alerted increased with alarming frequency. The slurs hurled at Curtis were echoed and amplified as the summer of 2004 wore on and Mikey conscientiously chronicled each occurrence of insults, ranging from “[expletive] Jew” to “filthy Jew” to the all-purpose “Christ killer” that came to his attention.
But Weinstein had long since passed the point of believing that dutifully recording such outrages and passing them along to the proper authorities would suffice. His faith in military due process was in tatters and he had come to the sober realization of the enemy he was facing, and the resources they commanded.
“Fundamentalist Christians had spent a lot of time and energy establishing a stronghold at the Academy,” he asserts. “They were not about to give up without a fierce fight.”
It was in late September of 2004 that Mikey would bring his own fight directly to the doorstep of the Air Force Academy. “I needed a way to circumvent the normal channels of command and control,” he explains.
“Clearly, there were forces within the administration that would do whatever they could to deflect attention from the constitutional violations that they were deliberately perpetrating. The only choice I had was to make an end run around the whole … authority structure. I needed to go public and this time I wasn’t going to give them the benefit of a heads up.”