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Romney Must Wrestle with Mormon History of Violence and Racism

Last updated on 2014.12.13

The redoutable Professor Newquist composes a weighty essay on the history of violence associated with Mormons and their erstwhile city-state of Nauvoo. His discussion of the "Banditti" and the Mormon Danite militia reveals one source of deep-seated cultural suspicion of Mormons (as if using fables of golden tablets dug up in New York to justify polygamy weren't enough).

Newquist also points to an undercurrent of racism in Mormonism and Mitt Romney's campaign strategy:

That undercurrent is heavily utilized in Romney's campaign strategy. There is a very audible undertone of racism in American politics since Obama became president. From the outset, his opposition has spent very little effort criticizing his policies and his agenda in specific terms, but has focused directly on the person in announcing that its major objective is to ride the White House of Obama, the black interloper. Romney has directed his invective primarily at Obama the person in a way to revive and excite anti-black racial attitudes as a motive force in his campaign.

Everything Romney says about Obama conforms to anti-black stereotypes [David Newquist, "What's Wrong with Mitt Romney?" Northern Valley Beacon, 2012.01.06].

As I've learned listening to a couple of the Republican debates, it's hard to pin Mitt Romney down on anything. He will say whatever he needs to push the right focus-group buttons and win votes. But Newquist identifies two hard uphill climbs that Mormon history and Romney's own rhetoric impose upon him.


  1. larry kurtz 2012.01.09

    Mormon Jon Huntsman will have plenty of 'splainin' to do to poor, white, conservative evangelicals in South Carolina and beyond.

    He might be too smart for the GOP.

  2. Chris S. 2012.01.09

    Re: the actual topic of Cory's post, John Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith is an excellent read about Mormonism.

    [CAH: Sorry: I had to do a serious non-sequitur-ectomy on this comment section. When a post on Romney, mormons, and racism turns into an indictment of Margaret Sanger as a New Age Theocrat, I've had enough. Focus.]

  3. Ken Blanchard 2012.01.09

    I suppose the Mormon thing is fair game, if every Muslim candidate has now to wrestle with contemporary antisemitism and every Christian candidate must wrestle with the crusades. Should you choose to run for office, Cory (Dare to be great!), I suppose you will have to wrestle with the deeds of atheists in Stalinist Russia.

    On the racist thing, I see not one shred of evidence that Romney is guilty of racism. What he is guilty of is criticizing the President which, last time I looked, was not reprehensible.

    Surely you can see that this line from the quote above is a howler: "From the outset, his opposition has spent very little effort criticizing his policies and his agenda in specific terms." Obama's opponents have relentless criticized his policies and agenda in very specific terms. Health care reform received an enormous amount of attention. Obama's failure to address the fiscal crisis has been criticized more thoroughly, with a lot of charts detailing very specific criticisms. This is noxious numbskullery of the highest order.

  4. troy jones 2012.01.09

    I was about to respond and then read Blanchard's comment.

    Anything I would say would be repetitive with one addition: What Newquist wrote is textbook bigotry.

    And one question for the bigot: Since you appear to be trial-ballooning for DNC on general election messaging, are you also applying to be Chris Mathews replacement?

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.10

    Ken, at peril of tangentiality, I would suggest that when Jon Huntsman taps me as his running mate on the Americans Elect ticket, making the historical connection between me and Stalin's atheists will be harder than making the connection between Romney and his Nauvoo forebears. Of course, I do speak Russian....

  6. Chris S. 2012.01.10

    Why do I have the feeling that this sudden defense of religious freedom is occurring solely because Romney is going to be the Republican nominee, and he's Mormon? (And a large portion of the Republican evangelical base can't stand him for that reason?) When President Obama was being slandered and having his religion questioned, I noticed a distinct silence from the right—no, check that; I noticed them piling on, even when it made no sense (e.g. "Obama is a radical Kenyan Muslim with a crazy Christian preacher!!!1!").

    But now, if someone mentions that some people might take issue with certain strains of Mormonism, the conservatives go running for the smelling salts and fainting couches. Why, it's almost as though it's a partisan issue for them, not about principle at all!

  7. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    Inadequate rejoinders, Dr. Blanchard and Mr. Jones. Dr. Newquist is merely the messenger responding to one more example of misanthropy that haunts the most brutal of the Larsson factions within the GOP.

    Native Americans living in South Dakota: beware the Republican Party.

  8. Erin F 2012.01.10

    A number of informed people have noted that Romney's criticism of President Obama is based on denigrating him as a person. While he derogates Obama's policies, for example, on the economy and on health care, his premise is that they are bad policies because the man who formulates them is inferior, clueless, incapable of cogent apprehension. In his constant criticism of Obama, Prof. Blanchard has taken the same tack on his blog of insisting that Obama is an inferior human being. If the criticisms were of the policies, they would be talking about what situations those policies addressed and whether they actually meet the problems. Instead, there is that constant repetition that Obama is not fit to be in the White House. The racial undertone, which has been much discussed , as indicated in links in the post, is hard to dismiss, except for those who are using it as a mode of attack on Obama.

    And when it comes to questioning the values and principles of Mormonism, I note that someone who cites some irrefutable facts of history is a bigot. It is this kind of discussion that makes people stand with the Occupy movement in rejecting all politics as human degradation.

  9. Nick Nemec 2012.01.10

    Cory speaks Russian, on top of speaking French and being an atheist? By my count that's three strikes. Next we'll learn of your membership in the local Masonic Lodge. You sir are unelectable.

    [CAH: I've never joined the Mason's, but I've always had that special affection for the Masonic Temple in Madison. Oops!]

  10. Ken Blanchard 2012.01.10

    Erin: apparently you were out of the loop when George W. was president. Did you miss the one about the village in Texas that was missing its idiot? Presidents always suffer personal as well as professional criticism. Obama gets no immunity. Romney's criticisms are well within the usual range.

    As far as my blog goes, I have criticized the President in the conduct his office, nothing more, nothing less.

  11. Erin F 2012.01.10

    People who lay claim to literacy can distinguish quite easily between criticisms of policy and performance and attacks on personhood. And I, for one, condemned the demeaning insults against George W. Bush, but those insults do not set the standard for legitimate criticism nor justify that kind of trash being applied to the current president.

  12. troy jones 2012.01.10

    Erin, you protest too much. Romney's criticism is grounded in policy differences.

  13. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    ...albeit policy differences shaped by a cultish Zionism where the White Horse Prophesy envisions a savior will be sent to rescue a constitution hanging by a thread....

  14. Steve Sibson 2012.01.10

    Larry, hust trying to get all to understand that it is not about Democrat vs Republican, left vs right, conservative vs liberal. We are all sinful power hungry greedy depraved people in need of a Savior.

  15. Erin F 2012.01.10

    More non-sequitur-ectomies needed. If it is not name-calling and denial, it's....well, whatever it's is.

  16. Douglas Wiken 2012.01.10

    Rational observers should be wary of any candidate for anything who claims to have some kind of superior faith in something equivalent to the flying spaghetti monster.

  17. David Newquist 2012.01.10

    I am somewhat envious, Cory, that you can attract the incisive eloquence of Sibson, Blanchard, and Jones under one post. I do puzzle a bit that the true truth-sayers always speak in tongues, and I have no angel Moroni to translate for me.

  18. Chris S. 2012.01.10

    David, try using the Magic Bowler of Translation, +3. If that doesn't work, a Straw Boater of Comprehension, +1, might get you through some of the easier passages. But of course the gold standard for translation is the Aztec Headdress +5. [/dungeons & dragons]

    (For those who think it's improper for me to be poking fun at Mormon things like that, take it easy. I'm a Christian, but I enjoy Monty Python's The Life of Brian too.)

  19. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    @Doc Blanchard: it would seem that a couple more Texas villages have lost their idiots.

    "Read my lips: no new Texans!"

    -Terry Asher, Santa Fe

  20. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    It doesn't get much clearer than this:

    "I’ve been pointing out for a long time that Mitt “RomneyCare” Romney is a liberal with an “R” after his name. I’ve long pointed out that one of the proof of this is that, despite his slick talk during the campaign, he is really a great friend of the homosexual agenda–having laid out the red carpet for the counterfeiting of marriage in Massachusetts."

    Mormons=the dissolution of marriage.

    Clearly Satanic.

  21. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    One word describes Jon Huntsman: 'plastics.' His father, a major contributor to the campaign also has ties to Bain.

  22. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    NH Huntsman surge seems weak. Oddly reassuring as he is the only GOP candidate in the field who can beat the President. Probably some back-slapping in the Situation Room.

  23. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    "Romney is "the 1st non-incumbent presidential Repblcn to win both the Iowa caucuses and the NH primary," @kenrudin"

  24. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    "NH House Speaker William O'Brien says Romney's win falls short of expectations."

  25. larry kurtz 2012.01.10

    Romney: "a military so powerful that no one will ever challenge it." Sounds like Myanmar or North Korea....

  26. Eve Fisher 2012.01.11

    Larry - not to mention that no such military ("so powerful that no one will ever challenge it") has ever or can ever exist: even the barbarians went up against Rome. And we've seen what boys throwing rocks can do in Gaza, IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. Whenever there's a will to take out an army (and there generally is), there's a way.

  27. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    wearing a virtual explosive vest myself, Ms. Fisher.

  28. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Hillary exhausted, should step down replaced by John Kerry. Clinton would re-emerge tanned and ready for the convention as veep nominee.

    Statehood for the tribes and Mexico.

  29. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    Deval Patrick would nominate Elizabeth Warren to the Senate then stand for election.

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