To date we have been predicting and seeing signs from the Obama lovers in the press (NYTimes) that come the general, the Mormon card would be used to play the race card and things would get really ugly. It’s been lightweight stuff, but one could see the signs. Well, today we discover that The New Republic has made the first overt thrust in this particular direction. The piece by Max Perry Mueller attempts, pitifully, to make the strike appear indirect, but come on. The headline appears a slight feint:
Has the Mormon Church Truly Left Its Race Problems Behind?
“See,” TNR tries to say, “this is not about Romney – this is about the Mormon church.” But then we turn to Mueller’s lede:
It’s looking more and more likely that Barack Obama will be facing Mitt Romney next November. According to recent polls, Romney’s much-debated “Mormon Problem”—considered by some to be a main roadblock to the Republican nomination in 2008—has decreased in salience among the white evangelicals on whom he’ll probably depend in both the primary and general elections. But one element of the Mormon problem that’s yet to be vetted will come into stark relief should this match-up take place: the Mormon Church’s troubling history of racial exclusion.
Guess again folks – It IS about Romney! But that is not what cracks me up, really, it’s this bit mid-way through the piece:
But if Romney himself doesn’t have a “black” problem, does his church?
“NO,” says Mueller, “I’m not calling Mitt Romney a racist (despite the scare quotes), but his church….” That’s almost more double-talk than I can bear. It’s guilt by association and implication, an old political game. It’s the denials, more than the ugly charge itself, that make this particular piece so distasteful.
But that said, two important points. One is the piece reveals nothing not already well-known and well vetted. The facts about the CJCLDS and race have been discussed and discussed and discussed again. There might be a reason for this piece, other than attack, if it actually reported something – ANYTHING?! – that was not already well known. But, of course, there are no such facts, just a trumped up excuse to try and weaken the presumptive Republican nominee.
The second point is one I fear we will be making over and over in the months to come. Every American church, had a race problem. The identifiably African-American denominations did not really spring forth until after the Civil War. Even then, Jim Crow-like policies and practices were evident in the white churches well into the 60′s and in some cases the 70′s. Many denominations, mine included, suffered splits in the years after the Civil War into “northern” and “southern” branches. In most cases the rift was healed, and the churches reunited during, or in the wake of, the civil rights movement. My own denomination did not officially reunite until 1982. Please note it is still a Southern Baptist Convention, though racism left that room decades ago as well.
But our intrepid reporter Mueller could not be troubled to investigate the history of race and religion generally – no he had a political opponent to attack and could not be dissuaded by facts or history.
While the CJCLDS racial policies were more overt than most churches, they are far from unique. As with most attacks the LDS have suffered in the Romney runs, if this one is allowed to stand, the same attack will be aimed at the rest of us of faith at the next opportunity.
You know, it might me interesting to dig into Mueller’s family tree and see if there were slaveholders. I wonder if TNR, which has been around since 1914, has always been so vocally opposed to segregation? After all, segregation was the conventional wisdom in 1914.
That’s it – if you published a magazine in a racist America – you were racist, and if you were racist, you are racist. Ok, now we do not have to pay attention to TNR or its “reporters,” they’re racists.