Last night, just as everyone was commenting on the Michigan and Arizona primaries, Salon’s Joan Walsh decided to join what Hugh Hewitt calls “the bigot parade.” Even as Mitt Romney was giving his victory speech, Walsh wasted no time:
2/28/12 7:55 PM
RT @joanwalsh: Romney’s saving the soul of America – so he doesn’t have to baptize us after we’re dead.
Now, Walsh is far from a nobody like Charles M. Blow. She an “MSNBC regular and Salon.com editor-at-large.” So we have an editor of a well-known, established online publication sounding like an anti-Mormon who’s had too much to drink at a party — except Walsh was blathering on the Internet.
Guy Benson decided to fight with some wit:
Guy Benson (@guypbenson)
2/28/12 8:23 PM
I’m offended by @JoanWalsh ‘s bigoted attack on Harry Reid’s faith.
Seemingly feeling her oats and inspired by her cleverness, Walsh doubled down:
Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen)
2/28/12 8:40 PM
RT @joanwalsh: Also, Romney was the one who said he wanted to save our souls, just another apocalyptic, hysterical attack on the president.
Feeling the heat, perhaps, Walsh tried to take half-step back. then took one step forward:
Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen)
2/28/12 8:38 PM
RT @joanwalsh: I’m torn: I honor religious freedom. But Elie Wiesel asked Romney to ask his church to stop baptizing Jews incl Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl.
Walsh finally tweeted an apology of sorts:
8:40 PM – 28 Feb 12
However, I believe in keeping religion out of politics and I don’t want to be responsible for everything my Church preaches, so I apologize
Amid all this Melissa Clouthier, a socially conservative tweeter, retweeted an insight:
Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets)
2/28/12 8:35 PM
RT @dangainor: Ah irony, brown shirt left will now Jihad against Mormons, forcing social cons to defend Mitt even if they oppose him.
Think about that last one. Over the last 6 years my co-blogger John has repeatedly made the point that a religious attack on one politician is really an attack on all politicians who take their religious faith seriously. There’s no reason to think that Joan Walsh’s repulsive foray into twigotry will be the last by an establishment news media pundit. It will be interesting to see how religious conservatives like Melissa respond. My bet is that they will close ranks around Romney just as they have around Santorum. I hope they can do so before too much damage is done. As we’ve said before, there is power in denunciation.
UPDATE: Yesterday I posted about a Washington Post article that raised once again the Mormon policy against allowing black men to hold our church’s priesthood, which ended in 1978. A BYU religion professor made some unfortunate comments to the Post, which the newspaper dutifully published. Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published this statement, which is remarkable for its directness:
The Church issued the following statement today in response to news media requests:
The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said.
The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.
For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.
We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.
This will not satisfy some people, but it’s hard to think of much more than can reasonably be expected.