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Erick Erickson

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  • Monday, March 26, 2007
    The Increased Participation Of A Minority In Political Activism Does Not Excuse Bigotry Directed At Them
    Posted by Hugh Hewitt | 2:23 PM
    It would take a very foolish observer not to expect the presence of Senator Barack Obama in the race not to result in higher participation of African-Americans in Campaign 2008 and significant support for his campaign from African Americans. When that support materializes, it will not excuse or in any way legitimize racist attacks on the senator or his supporters. This is so obvious as to not even bear mentioning.

    Except for the argument made by Red State’s Erick Erickson in his Human Events review of my new book. The full review is here, but here is the graph I find troubling:

    In another contradiction, Hewitt writes, in the chapter titled “Mitt Romney’s Advantages”: “Start with the Mormons. The basic unit of the LDS church is the ward, comparable to a Catholic parish. Wards are collected into ‘stakes,’ again, comparable to a Catholic diocese. There are eight stakes in Iowa, which include 85 wards. . . . And in those 85 wards will be an incredible not-so-secret weapon–a core of young people . . . not to mention experienced missionaries.” So “the Romney campaign will certainly attract hundreds of thousands of Mormons. . . . This is a standard feature of American politics, and much to be celebrated.” But this begs the question: If we can expect heavy participation by Mormon missionaries as grassroots activists for an American presidential campaign, why can we not ask questions about Romney’s Mormon beliefs and why can Americans not be concerned? After all, contrary to the popular perception of the left and media, there were no organized platoons of Presbyterian missionaries knocking on doors for Reagan, brigades of Baptists for Bill Clinton, nor marauding packs of Methodists for George W. Bush. This is something relatively unseen and new to most Americans –including many deeply evangelical Americans who believe Mormonism to be a cult, or at best a religion that has some shared roots, but is fundamentally grounded in heresies.

    I find the effort to mainstream religious tests and even religious bigotry to be abhorrent and far outside the political mainstream. As I argue at length in the book, the effort by those on the left to introduce this sort of rhetoric should have led to their shaming, and I am sorry to say the same about Erick’s drive-by. Mormons are American citizens with every right to be enthusiastic about the candidacy of a co-religionist, and that enthusiasm is not a license to begin a theological inquisition at a public figure whose campaign is about the direction of America and his qualifications to lead it.

    There is something about this issue that destabilizes otherwise grounded commentators, leading them off rhetorical cliffs and into lapses of logic. Erick ignores how Catholic Americans were very enthusiastic over Kennedy’s candidacy, and how that was not the occasion for denunciations of Popery or assaults on the miracle of Fatima or Lourdes. I imagine quite a few italian Americans will be enthusiastic over Rudy’s run, and I don’t expect Erick to be defending the ethnic smears directed at Italians by the uncouth and the bigoted. Joe Lieberman’s heritage was not a starting gun for the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism no matter how many Jews might have felt great pride in his candidacy and expressed support for his campaign.

    The attempt to use Romney’s candidacy as a step-stool for attacks on the LDS is shocking when it occurs on the left, and worse when it occurs on the right.