Reactions to Brit Hume’s Tiger Woods comment continue unabated. The best thing I have seen so far is Michael Gerson’s WaPo coulmn from Friday:
The root of the anger against Hume is his religious exclusivity — the belief, in Shuster’s words, that “my faith is the right one.” For this reason, according to Shales, Hume has “dissed about half a billion Buddhists on the planet.”
But this supposed defense of other religious traditions betrays an unfamiliarity with religion itself. Religious faiths — Christian, Buddhist, Zoroastrian — generally make claims about the nature of reality that conflict with the claims of other faiths. Attacking Christian religious exclusivity is to attack nearly every vital religious tradition. It is not a scandal to believers that others hold differing beliefs. It is only a scandal to those offended by all belief. Though I am not a Buddhist or a Muslim, I am not “dissed” when a Muslim or a Buddhist advocates his views in public.
[Emphasis added] This is absolutely right, and it is why, when a Buddhist is similarly attacked, as Christians, it is wise for us to rise to their defense. And it also means we must be very careful in how we apply our religion in public. Perhaps in a nation where religious adherence could be assumed, and attacks like this were not commonplace, discussions of Romney’s faith versus Giuliani’s or McCain’s might be worth having. But that is not the nation we live in right now. Such infighting in our current circumstance strengthens and emboldens those that think religion a blight and that it should be removed from the nation.
But even if we lived in that fictitious nation, we would need to exercise civility and decency in our discussions. Which brings us to . . .
Romney’s Coming Out To Sell His Book . . .
. . . and the ugliness begins. Check out the 12th comment on the Ben Smith post on the New Hampshire portion of Romney’s book tour.
Mormons aint common baby…Palin 2012
UGH! I understand why Politico lets that stay there – to edit comments at a site like Politico is a legal minefield – but imagine that someone said the same thing, but substituted “blacks” for “Mormons” about Obama’s campaign stops. There is also profanity, mild profanity but profanity nonetheless, in the comments. Politico and sites like it have “report abuse” systems wherein readers can tell them of offensive comments, and they do not have to have large staffs to moderate comments.
We’d like to urge our readers to become “comment police” people. Use these reporting systems at every opportunity. We expect the highest standards of civility and reason from our readers. This means that the correct answer to a prejudicial or biased comment is not name-calling or equally prejudicial comments. Such is evident in the comment stream discussed here – we should rise above it. Use the reporting system or answer reasonably. Also, we must EQUALLY apply our policing skills. The same comment stream that takes this shot at Romney’s faith takes a very ugly one at Palin’s. If you call out one – you must call out both.
In 2008, comments were where the real bigotry festered and grew. It is reasonable to try and ride herd on it. There is little we can do with sites like “Huck’s Army.” But there is much we can and should do at mainstream news sites. To help you with this effort we have set up a twitter account that is on autopilot. It will tweet much of the raw news feed that we monitor here. We, of course, use editorial discretion as we write here (or tweet at our normal spot), but this is going to be the raw stuff and lots of it. You can mine it to find the kinds of comments we are talking about here since even most news outlets now allow comments on stories. Please do try to be judicious- complaining about comments at “mormonssuck.org” is going to be a waste of time – concentrate on mainstream sites and publications. Drop us an email and let us know if you are going to involve yourself in this effort and how it is going – and please include your email address in the body of the email so we can write you back.
UPDATE: I used the Politco “report abuse” system when I wrote this piece and between then and publication the comment I quote above has disappeared, along with the profanity and the one about Palin – so this works. I am betting that the “edited” commenter took offense as there is now a long stream of anonymous “magic underwear” comments. – Go get them, they are all yours.
Back to the original post…
More on “The Invisible Primary”…
And speaking of Palin – Chris Good’s Friday “Invisible Primary” post says a mouthful, while trying to deny it, about Palin and running in 2012. That post is about appearances at the upcoming CPAC and Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
Our friends at “Evangelicals For Mitt” were very active on Romney’s behalf at the 2006 SRLC – and that has resulted in some accusations being thrown their way. They set the record straight here. You may disagree with EFM’s choice of candidates, but they are above board and honest people. To insinuate otherwise is malicious and uncalled for.
As he emerges into the public eye once again, Romney is polling very well, particularly with smart people. See here and here. (HT:race42012) This was true last time as well – the smart money was on Romney. Can the smart people convince the general public this time around? More importantly will it hinge on the religion question? In the immortal words of Bette Davis, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
Romney has been doing a lot of media in the last week. Race 4 2012 carries the video of his Greata Van Susteren appearance Friday night. (We could not get our video widget to work on this one and linking directly to Fox, it’ll disappear too quickly.) And Utah Policy corrects our assertion of late last week that no one in the MSM was asking Romney about religion this time around. They did on Fox and Friends early last week – barely. It is still nowhere near the din we saw last time.
Lowell adds . . .
John and I are in full agreement on the “blogactivism” idea. The only way — the only way! — The Question will ever fade into irrelevancy is if people of good will use sweet reason to persuade the overwhelming majority of conservative activists (and also quite a few liberals) that The Question deserves irrelevancy.
Having thought about this overnight, I can’t remember a single occasion when anyone has expressed political anti-Mormon bias to my face – or even in public when I was a witness. No, that bigotry is the kind of sentiment people express in private or behind screen names on the internet. Once it is challenged, it slinks back into the hole from which it emerged.
We need to be careful, however, to avoid “shouting down” opposing viewpoints – a tactic the Left perfected during the last decade. When a bigoted comment appears, I hope the response is not, “Shut up, you bigot!” (although in some rare cases that will be the appropriate response). Instead, I hope we will demand that the attacker justify his statment in some principled manner. For example: “Why are you bringing up Romney’s religious beliefs? How do they have anything to do with his ability to serve as president? Why didn’t they disqualify him from being a governor?” and similar questions. Even the “magic underwear” nonsense can be addressed this way: “How is that different from a candidate wearing a cross under his shirt, or a Jewish candidate wearing a yarmulke or prayer shawl?”
The blogosphere is a potent force for good, for ennobling behavior, and for bringing out the best in public discourse. John has come up with an excellent way for us to do all those things by tapping into the inherent decency of the American people. Let the games begin!