Robert Nordlander has been fighting the media for a long time. Other people, such as University of Oshkosh professor Tony Palmieri, have highlighted this in the past. Nordlander has provided me with another example. I have decided to provide it here, unvarnished. Perhaps you agree with Nordlander that certain issues need to be presented, or maybe you think Neistein is in the right when he says that people are not interested in certain topics (and a newspaper is a business, after all). I am making no decisions here. Clarifications will be provided in brackets by myself if need be.
Nordlander to P-C, December 7, 2006
[Nordlander submitted the following in hopes of the piece appearing as a letter to the editor.]
Your December 6 editorial titled “Delayed Medal of Honor decisions tarnishing valor” asserted that the delay between the time that heroic deeds of valor occur on the battlefield and their final recognition by the nation for whom they were performed is too long.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes time to investigate claims of valor put forth for ultimate recognition. There is the possibility of fraud being perpetrated. A classic example is the case of David S. Rubitsky, a WWII Jewish veteran from Milton, who claimed that he had been denied the Medal of Honor by his superiors because of anti-Semitism. He claimed that he had killed 600 Japanese soldiers all by himself from December 1-2, 1942 during the Battle of Buna which took place in Papua New Guinea.
The US Army spent two years 1987-1989 investigating his claim courtesy of the late Congressman Les Aspin. Again in 1992 the Army was obliged to look into this claim and still again in 1998. The repeated conclusion was that the alleged act of heroism did not occur.
Rubitsky also claimed he had been denied the Medal of Honor on another occasion in the Philippines in 1944 where he claimed he killed 200 Japanese soldiers while destroying seven machine-gun nests. The Army did not investigate that claim.
It should be noted that Rubitsky had the support of 70 members of the House of Representatives plus the support of Senator Kohl who wrote a letter to the Army saying the MOH should be awarded to Rubitsky based on his investigation.
The Army needs time to carefully look into these claims of heroism
to prevent others like Rubitsky from imposing their egos on history.
[For more details of the Rubitsky story, see my interview with Nordlander available elsewhere on The Framing Business.]
Post-Crescent Response, December 7
Robert, and I’ll try to ask this without the personal hostility I’m feeling, what does Rubitsky’s religion have to do with the point of this letter?
Matt [Neistein, opinions page editor]
Nordlander Response, December 8
He used anti-Semitism as the ploy to gain sympathy for his fraudulent claim. I have the Army file. In 1987-1989 the media was full of sympathetic stories. The detractors in his own unit were smeared as anti-Semites. Anyone who questioned Rubitsky’s claim was smeared as an anti-Semite.
He even forged various documents. One which General Smith of Neilsville acknowledged to me in writing. And another which Mrs. Smith, the widow of the Oshkosh General Smith told me was a forgery in which he accused her husband of anti-Semitism.
The corrupt government of Papua New Guinea nominated him for an MBE which Queen Elizabeth approved. A Papua historian claims the deed happened but won’t share his research with anyone.
The Jewish War Veterans supported him but then repudiated him after reading the Army verdict. Foxman of the ADL [Anti- Defamation League] supported him but repudiated him after the Army drew its conclusions.
Neistein to Nordlander, December 8
But what’s that got to do with the point of your letter, Robert? He could be Muslim and claim people were anti-Muslim. Or Catholic and claim the Army’s anti-Catholic. It wouldn’t change anything. Your point is that he lied about his service and was denied the medal after investigations. The other stuff is just extraneous and more than a little troubling.
To be frank, I’m not publishing this letter because you and Rubitsky have a long history that has included legal issues. I’m not going to let you use this page to continue this personal rivalry.
And for a guy who’s been defending himself for years against charges of anti-Semitism, this letter doesn’t flatter you.
There’s also strong consideration going on here to withhold your letters regarding the USS Liberty from publication, if only because they are becoming so prevalent as to be tiresome. You manage to find a way to tie any subject back to that issue, no matter how tenuous the connection, and it mires the discussion.
That discussion is the purpose of the opinion page. And if in any
group discussion, one person keeps interjecting with the same piece of dialogue over and over, it aggravates everyone else, particularly when it’s on a subject people have pretty much demonstrated they don’t care much about.
You have a passion for that issue, and I respect that. But I think it lowers the quality of your contributions to the page and I strongly suggest you consider what others think when they read those letters. You may be doing more damage to your cause than good.
Nordlander to Neistein, December 8
I take issue with a PC editorial. I give an example why time is needed by the military to validate claims of valor. I use Rubitsky as an example. The guy us a fraud. But I can’t discuss him because of “rivalry.” There is no rivalry. I and others only publicized his fraud. Apparently truth or the validity of an issue has no standing with you because you choose to use your authority to censor an honest opinion based upon your own subjective prejudices and predispositions. So much for the spirit of the First Amendment being applied to writers of letters to the editors.
I had to hire a lawyer (the Menn Law Firm) to remove slanderous Rubitsky forgeries with my name from his web site.
My letters referencing the USS LIBERTY are “tiresome?” The Post-Crescent publishes a lot of crap which I think tiresome while others might find it worthwhile and interesting. “Tiresome” is subjective and is only your opinion. I FIND THE GREEN BAY PACKERS TIRESOME but your paper is full of that crap all the time. I find it disgraceful that a former US Marine would find discussion of the injustice done to the USS LIBERTY crew “tiresome.”
I suspect you got a number of complaints again about my Reader
Reaction so you are telling me that the USS Liberty cannot be
discussed. [I presume that Nordlander is referring to his RR where he said that God does not love children because He let Hurricane Katrina happen.] Why don’t you publish a list of topics iin the PC that the readers CAN’T DISCUSS instead of giving readers the illusion that your rules bar personal attacks and limit letters to 300 words once a month.
Neistein’s Final Word, December 11
Robert, I have no problem with you disagreeing with our editorials. As you can see by letters we print, people do it all the time. What I have a problem with is you seeing an editorial on a topic that allows you to take a swipe at a personal enemy and using it to do so.
Rubitsky has been denied his medal, as you claim. The issue is done with. The opinion page is not here for you to twist the knife on a dead issue.
There is no rivalry? He sued you and you went to the police regarding his harassment of you. You just said you had to hire a lawyer to deal with him. I don’t know how you would define “rivalry,” but when police are necessary to break up a confrontation between two men, I think it’s fair to dub them rivals.
The truth and validity of this issue has already been exposed. If you wrote me a letter explaining how the earth was round and all those people who said it was flat were wrong, I wouldn’t print that either. The issue is over with. Just because Rubitsky still lobbies for it doesn’t make it a worthwhile topic.
As for the Liberty, it is getting tiresome, and I say that as an opinion editor, not a Marine. My job is to keep the community conversation on the page lively and progressive. One person who brings up the same subject every single time he speaks – whether the actual subject at hand is as mundane as day care policies or suburban street repair – only bogs that conversation down, especially when no one responds. That doesn’t make you part of the conversation, Robert; it makes you the guy pleading for attention.
And I haven’t gotten a complaint yet about your RRF response. If anything, it grated on me as soon as I saw the e-mail, and the frustration on my end regarding this has been growing. And every time we have any discussion along these lines, you accuse me of censorship. I hate to point this out, but my title is “op-ed editor.” That means I edit the page. That means I make the decisions about what goes on and what doesn’t. I know you think this is blatantly unfair. Unfortunately, that’s too bad. Every opinion page in the country has an editor who makes the same decisions.
My decision in this case is to very politely and professionally request that your crusade for the Liberty not overwhelm your contributions to the page. By my count, you’ve brought it up at least three times since August with no real developments or new information on the issue. I don’t want to ban you from the page, but I’m also not going to let you abuse it.