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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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Cute, Not Cute – Ignorance, Bigotry – The Press, Democrats

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:33 am, April 20th 2012     —    9 Comments »

Cute: (From a facebook friend of mine)

You’d think by now the media would stop acting like Obama’s lapdogs.  If only out of fear.

Even if you disagree, that’s going to bring a smile to your face because of its sheer inventiveness – bad pun notwithstanding.  But efforts to be cute can go terribly wrong.  We have much evidence today.

Consider the case of MSNBC host Martin Bashir as reported by Jeff Poor of the Daily Caller (video at the link):

Holy fire and brimstone, Batman.

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir often touts his religion on air, noting that he is a follower of Christianity. And despite Jesus Christ having warned his followers in the Book of Matthew about judging others, Bashir has plotted out a path for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s eternal damnation.

On his show on Thursday, Bashir determined the likely Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States to be a liar on multiple occasions.

“It doesn’t matter how many times he hears the truth, Mitt Romney prefers to tell lies,” Bashir said, having suggested Romney and his campaign lied on three recent occasions.

Bashir then consulted the religious text of Romney’s faith of Mormonism to determine what the punishment would be for such actions.

“Which brings us to the moral codes of Mormonism that Mr. Romney claims to live by,” Bashir said. “In Section 63, in verse 17 of the Doctrine and Covenants of the Mormon Church we find this: ‘All liars, and whosoever loveth and and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death.’ And from the Book of Mormon to Nephi, Chapter 2, Verse 34 we find this: ‘Woe unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.’”

Poor’s citation of Matthew is an effort to meet “cute” with “cute,” unfortunately it only compounds the tasteless nature of Bashir.  There is no analysis required here, the bigotry is self-evident.  But our evidence of “cute” gone wrong does not end there.

Consider the case of Bonnie Goldstein in WaPo’s “She the People” column:

The job of a political campaign is to market and promote a candidate effectively enough to get that person elected.  Romney’s wife, Ann, is doing a fine job of being the candidate’s wife (and also of playing the role of candidate’s wife to the media) but, since it is the campaign we are talking about and not the actual Romney marriage, Beth Myers in the role of “office wife” is far more key to getting the job done.

Veiled polygamy reference? Nah, couldn’t be.  Everybody knows that’s in the past and just not applicable anymore, even the governor of Montana:

The Daily Beast contacted the office of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer today to talk about whether his state would be in play in the 2012 presidential election. About a half hour later, the governor called back, and he had a lot to say. He didn’t think that Montana would be a swing state, but the Democrat did say that Mitt Romney could have issues nationally because his father was “born on a polygamy commune in Mexico.”

Well, I guess that is not anti-Mormon bigotry, he did not say “Mormon” after all.  But the cute evidence keeps piling up.   Consider Reuters:

Rove forecast a nasty presidential race and called the Obama campaign’s complaints about Romney’s penchant for secrecy a veiled, “bigoted” attack on the Republican’s Mormon faith – a claim Obama’s staff rejects.

The use of James Taranto‘s oft-cited scare quotes isn’t really that cute, but it is revelatory.  The piece does go on to report on Team Obama’s refutation of the charge of bigotry.  Problem is, in light of this much evidence, denial is insufficient to constitute refutation.

There were some more straightforward efforts to discuss Mormonism.  The Germans did a story trying to describe Mormonism. (*YAWN*)  Romney is going to speak at Liberty University commencement.  (Not really news at this point.)  Ed Kilgore clearly did not pay any attention to the primary, this time or last time:

In other words, so long as a candidate is on the same page as the Christian Right on same-sex marriage and abortion— and, increasingly, contraception—his understanding of the metaphysical nature of the universe isn’t a deal-breaker. Mormons are as welcome in the fight against encroaching secularism as anyone else.

They have no choice now, but….  Salon throws a petulant little fit saying you have, have…HAVE to talk about Mormonism.  At some point it just gets ridiculous.

And now to matters most serious.  The Los Angeles Times has been so blatantly anti-Romney, and so willing to play the Mormon card (for months now), that we have worked to ignore it as much as feasible here.  It long ago gave up its reputation as a real newspaper and to address it is to give it more credibility than it deserves.  David French posted in the Corner yesterday yet another example of why the LAT should be ignored and in fact decried.  His post has nothing to do with this blog’s topic, but to all the readers that have sent us links to the LAT, now you know why they don’t see the light of day here.

And in closing, Peggy Noonan this morning:

People in politics talk about the right track/wrong track numbers as an indicator of public mood. This week Gallup had a poll showing only 24% of Americans feel we’re on the right track as a nation. That’s a historic low. Political professionals tend, understandably, to think it’s all about the economy—unemployment, foreclosures, we’re going in the wrong direction. I’ve long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it’s also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.

Now I’d go a step beyond that. I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.

Every story that has broken through the past few weeks has been about who we are as a people. And they are all disturbing.

[...]

The leveling or deterioration of public behavior has got to be worrying people who have enough years on them to judge with some perspective.

Something seems to be going terribly wrong.

Maybe we have to stop and think about this.

There could be a book written about this, maybe even several.  In a nutshell, I think Ms. Noonan has hit on precisely how religion and politics should interact.  Religion builds character that is evident in our politics and the institutions that surround it.  Religion’s political influence is indirect, but as chronicled in her piece, enormously important.  As efforts have been made to push even such indirect influence from the public sphere, and as much of the world of religion has moved from efforts to build character to efforts merely at “personal salvation,” (as opposed to personal salvation being a starting point for a lifetime of character building) the kinds of things Ms. Noonan cites seem almost inevitable.

One of the beauties of having a heterodox candidate of outstanding character for the Republican party is that it does in fact reinforce the necessity of both religion’s indirect influence and its character building nature – since that is what we share.  Would that the nation will hear that message.

UPDATE (about 2 hours after publication): With a tip of the hat to Robert Stacy McCain, we note what the NYtimes had to say about Romney speaking at Liberty U which we referenced earlier:

Jerry Falwell Jr., the university’s chancellor, said in a statement that “we are delighted” that Mr. Romney would be speaking, and he compared the visit to those of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the elder George Bush in 1990. However, the decision has already sparked controversy among students and alumni of Liberty University, with nearly 300 people commenting on the institution’s Facebook announcement within two hours of its posting.

“I am so disappointed in my university for their choice in commencement speaker Romney. You have lost a potential grad student,” wrote Paige Farmer. “It is shameful that you would allow him a stage for political gain. What could a Mormon possibly have to share with Christians?”

Let’s be sure and keep the focus on the few silly people out there instead of the vast majority of Republicans that have voted for Gov. Romney.  After all, they cannot let us appear reasonable.

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