So Daniel has diagnosed me with a “Persecution Complex” for my (over?)sensitivity to attacks on my faith by those on the left. In honor of my new condition, I thought I’d share some of my paranoid reasons for irrationally identifying hostility toward my faith from the tolerant, open-minded folk who are more enlightened than a troglodyte like me.
By the way, did you know Mitt Romney is a Mormon?
Certainly ABC, NBC, and CBS want you to know that. They’ve made 57 mentions of Governor Romney’s faith since October 31 of last year. Between January 1, 2011 and last Halloween, they mentioned Romney’s Mormonism 100 times. Is this a good thing?
Put it in this context, as shared by Newsbusters.org, a conservative media watchdog site:
Unlike their colleagues at MSNBC, network reporters can’t openly attack Romney’s faith. But they can make sure nobody forgets what it is by including it in nearly every story that mentions him. They can wonder if “Mitt Romney`s Mormon faith is problematic” to Christians, as CBS’s Bill Whitaker did in January. They can cite “misconceptions” about polygamy, as NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren did in February. Last fall, the Culture and Media Institute released “Baptism by Fire,” a study of how ABC, NBC and CBS covered the religion of the Republican primary contenders versus that of Democrat candidates in the 2008 cycle. CMI found that Republicans’ faith was discussed seven times more than Democrats, and their faith was 13 times more likely to be criticized or challenged.
Well, wait a minute. What about Barack Obama’s faith? Wasn’t it all Jeremiah Wright all the time for a while back there? Actually, no.
Not surprisingly, the networks gave Barack Obama a near-total pass on his religion. Questions about Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, surfaced in early in March 2007 and were covered on Fox News and in newspapers, but it took an entire year for any of the networks to mention Wright. Out of 11 mentions of Obama’s religion, not one challenged, criticized or took his statements at anything other than face value.
So, it seems, if I have a persecution complex, so does Newsbusters, who concluded their report with the following:
Now, with Romney all but certain to be the Republican nominee, the networks won’t be dialing back their obsession with Mitt’s Mormonism anytime soon. Whether to remind moderates that Mormonism is a little “weird,” or to exploit what they see as a division between evangelicals and conservative Catholics on one hand and Mormons on the other, they’ll continue to mention Romney’s faith.
Yes, they will. And when they mention it, it’s usually not complimentarily, although not everyone goes as far as Lawrence O’Donnell did when he claimed that “Mormonism was created by a guy in upstate New York in 1830 when he got caught having sex with the maid and explained to his wife that God told him to do it.”
This is such a colossally ignorant statement that I don’t know where to begin. I’m not really interested in defending the doctrine of plural marriage – I discussed that at length here – but all you need to know is that by the time polygamy even became a consideration, Joseph had published a new volume of scripture, organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and had been married to the former Emma Hale for several years. If the first time he’d thought about religion was when he was caught in the act, so to speak, then one has to explain where the heck the Book of Mormon came from.
But I should be mollified. After all, O’Donnell “apologized” today. Watch it and see if it warms your heart as much as it did mine. Because from my vantage point, any apology that relies on an “if” isn’t really an apology at all. Behold:
“I am truly sorry if I said something inaccurate about Joseph Smith,” he says, “and I am happy to provide time on this show to a Church of Latter Day Saints spokesman to correct any inaccuracy.” [Emphasis mine.]
If? You’re not sure, Lawrence? Is it just that those ignorant Mormons are making a lot of noise? Replace “if” with “that,” Larry, and then maybe we’ll talk. It would also help if you got the name of the church right, too.
This is not unprecedented. When Romney ran against Ted Kennedy in 1994, Kennedy loudly and vociferously beat up on the Mormons, only to backtrack when Romney likened Kennedy’s bigotry to the crap JFK railed against in the speech that made Rick Santorum want to throw up. Kennedy quickly apologized, but that gave him the best of both worlds.He could wash his hands of the thing and pretend it was just an innocent slip up, but the damage had been done; the message had been delivered. Hey, Mr. Catholic Dock Worker in Shrewsbury – this guy is not one of you.
To work my persecution complex into overdrive, then, this is the same message I see when a DNC hack attacks Mitt for being “old fashioned” and Ann Romney for “not working a day in her life” because she was a stay-at-home mom with five kids. After all, what kind of woman has five kids in this day and age? What kind of woman thinks children are a bigger priority than a paycheck? Weird women. Religious women. They don’t have to use the word “Mormon,” but the message is clear – this woman is foreign, alien, strange – she is not one of you.
So am I being oversensitive? Perhaps. But as garbage like this keeps coming down the pike, I’m not ready to put on my tin foil hat just yet.
UPDATE: I’m not alone in my complex, it seems. National Review has an online poll with this question:
“Will the Left make Mormonism an issue?”
92% of respondents say yes.