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The Wrong Kind of Minority

Comment

The Washington Post proclaimed in a recent headline another historic "first" for the United States — the first female usher-in-chief at the White House. Stop the presses! The accompanying story reveals that the nominee hails from Jamaica, so it's probably a two-fer. Oh, boy.

The Post and other liberal organs are obsessed with firsts. The first female letter carrier to handle the Capitol Hill route will get a mention in the press. The first African-American anything is guaranteed at least a nod. You don't even have to be first to get "first" treatment. The last two Supreme Court nominees have been women, joining a court that had already seated two women (one retired). Nevertheless, the femininity of the candidates was cheerily chatted up. When Barack Obama became the first black nominee of a major party and then the elected president, dignified notice of an historical milestone would have been appropriate. But you know what happened — the media went on an inebriated, extravagant first binge.

Funny how the first-effect only works for some. If Mitt Romney is nominated and elected, he will be the first member of a highly persecuted American minority group to be so honored. Yet no one is celebrating the possibility of the first Mormon president. Anti-Mormon bias, which has proved remarkably persistent over decades, is scarcely ever condemned.

It isn't that Mormons have not suffered. Following the religion's founding in upstate New York in 1830, the Mormons faced immediate hostility from their neighbors. Hounded by New Yorkers, the growing community moved west to Ohio, Missouri and Kansas. In Jackson County, Missouri, Mormon leaders were tarred and feathered, Mormon homes torched and Mormon property brazenly stolen.

County after county drove the Mormons out, sometimes threatening to kill even the children if they did not evacuate, culminating, in 1838, in an "extermination order" issued by Gov. Lilburn Boggs. Instructing the state militia, Boggs wrote, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description." Thousands of Mormons were forced to flee, some with just the clothes on their backs, in the dead of winter.

Illinois offered sanctuary for a time, but it was in that state that the religion's founder, Joseph Smith, was imprisoned and murdered by a mob.

The Mormons attempted to defend themselves and committed an atrocity of their own, the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 (for which the militia leader in charge was tried and executed by the Mormons). But most of the time, the group was on the defensive. Throughout its first seven decades, the sect was harried, persecuted, expelled, reviled and chased across a continent.

The practice of polygamy stirred hostility. As a Jew though, I cannot help noticing that Mormons were also hated because they seemed to prosper economically, because they rose to the top of organizations they joined and because they were so loyal to one another.

Outsiders can surely be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets results. Utah has the nation's lowest levels of welfare dependency, child poverty and single parent homes. Its students are among the top scorers in the nation, despite relatively low levels of education spending. It ranks highest for contributions to charity by the wealthy and among the lowest for incarceration and cancer rates. Prominent Mormons established the Marriott hotel chain, Jet Blue and Bain Capital (of course). Mormon Americans invented the television, word processing and the hearing aid, among other things. Mormons have distinguished themselves in entertainment, sports and politics — where they have risen to prominence in both parties.

Polygamy having long since been discarded, anti-Mormon bias today, ironically, often focuses on the LDS Church's opposition to same sex marriage. During the contest over California's Proposition 8, which limited marriage to the bond between men and women, opponents sought to intimidate Mormons who contributed financially or otherwise to the initiative. While there has been speculation that Mitt Romney's faith might suppress support among Republicans, a recent Gallup survey found that Democrats (27 percent) were more likely than Republicans (18 percent) to say they would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president.

Mormons are obviously the wrong kind of minority. Oh, they've been persecuted. But through a strong work ethic, self-discipline, traditional morality (Yes, there's an irony there, but get over it.) and group cohesion, they have triumphed for themselves and for the country. The first Mormon president would be a milestone. But don't hold your breath for the applause.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

6 Comments | Post Comment
Did the LDS church provide all this material? The LDS church was not run out of Missouri and Illinois just because people didn't like their religion? Does that even sound close to true to any clear thinker? In Missouri the Mormons were considered a threat to the state because of their own militias and their taking over entire counties through intimidation, violence and various other means. Joseph Smith was likely killed by Masons because he'd broken his oath to keep the Masonic rituals secret and he incorporated them almost without change into the Temple Rituals. This is easily confirmed online and even from Mormon sources. Don't forget that Smith also had a gun on him that was smuggled into the jail and he personally killed two men who were storming the jail. He shouldn't have been murdered but that doesn't sound like a sinless martyr to me. This one-sided portrayal is the worst kind of propaganda and should be immediately recognized as extremely lopsided.
It sounds like Mona got snookered.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Greg Harvey
Sun Jan 1, 2012 2:20 PM
"If Mitt Romney is nominated and elected, he will be the first member of a highly persecuted American minority group to be so honored." Did Mona forget who was elected in 2008? You are a complete idiot Mona. No wonder no one takes you seriously.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Gil
Mon Jan 2, 2012 8:16 AM
Re: Gil. Exactly, Gil! What the hell is an idiot like Charen doing with a column outside the Weekly Reader - and even there she'd get canned for an oversight this willfully stupid and blind. Talk about embedded racism among our 'elite' journalists, essayists, and thinkers, if you'll pardon the expressions in this case. It just completely boggles any rational mind to think that any adult anywhere in the world wouldn't consider African-Americans to be the most persecuted people of modern or historical times in the United States of America. The lack of reasoning ability is astounding. This site needs editors badly, and Charen needs to just get another line of work entirely, now! Also, to Charen: I'm sure you wouldn't consider Palestinians persecuted either, seeing the unforgivable bigotry you express (unconsciously or not) in this column. Your ignorance is bewildering, though your biases are evident.
Comment: #3
Posted by: news nag
Mon Jan 2, 2012 9:58 AM
I would also suggest to Mona Charen that she pick up an informative book to read. It is written by Jon Krakauer, and entitled " Under the Banner of Heaven ". Krakauers' book delves into the origin and evolution of the Morman faith. It contains thoroughly researched history of The Church of Latter Day Saints as well as their past and current ideologies. It is not quite the pretty picture that she paints.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bill Lee
Tue Jan 3, 2012 11:08 AM
@news nag
""It just completely boggles any rational mind to think that any adult anywhere in the world wouldn't consider African-Americans to be the most persecuted people of modern or historical times in the United States of America. The lack of reasoning ability is astounding. ""
Just curious as to how you failed US History. Persecution is persecusion. Good grief buddy - take your pick! Persecuted groups include:
Blacks faced enslavement and not all of them came from Africa. The impoverished Catholic Irish in the mid 1800's whose treatment in America was so genteel that their average lifespan upon arrival in the US was 6 years. Chinese were hearded into concentration camps in California during WWII after the boming of Pearl Harbor and all their assets removed from them. To this day not all have received restitution for the loss of life, liberty and all their worldly possessions. The Spanish and Mexican rancheros who lost all claim to their land when the US bought, California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico from General Santa Ana - not once, but twice. And let us not forgot the American Native who simply referred to themselves as the people. As a rationale thinking adult, I'd have to say that no race has suffered more greatly in our country than those indigenous tribes who once populated this land and now live in poverty comparable only to third world conditions (with the exceptions of those few tribes allowed gaming). That's just a few examples of group persecution.
While is is true that electing a Morman to the Presidency would not be the first member of a 'highly persecuted minority group' to have attained that honor (sorry Mona you are wrong here). There are other firsts from persecuted groups throughout our history. President Kennedy as the first Irish Catholic President preceeded President Obama who is the first interracial President. But to say that no other group has been persecuted to the same degree as blacks in America is just plain biased. Your ignorance of your own history is appalling.
@ Mona: Being able to elect someone for their qualifications alone would be the first great step toward a truly equal society and a 'First" far more worthy of mention than someone's genetic, religious or racial background. As a society we elect those based on our desire to break barriers and celebrate the diversity of who we elect as milestones of our progressive and tolerant attitudes, while failing to elect them for their qualifications. It is time to set 'firsts' aside.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Inquisitive Mind
Tue Jan 3, 2012 4:23 PM
Re: Greg Harvey You don't like one-sided portrayals? Here is some balance:
-- "The LDS church was not run out of Missouri and Illinois just because people didn't like their religion." They were run out of Missouri and Illinois because they were different, and they were different because of their religion. The people of Missouri and Illinois probably knew nothing about their religion.
-- "In Missouri the Mormons were considered a threat to the state because of their own militias and their taking over entire counties through intimidation, violence and various other means." They formed militias because the federal, state, and local authorities refused to help them when their homes were being violated, and they needed some way to protect their families. The militias were never used because Joseph Smith did not want anyone, from either side, hurt.
-- The Mormons did not "take over entire counties." They moved to empty or sparsely populated areas and made those areas work. They drained a swamp and fought off malaria-carrying mosquitos to build Nauvoo, Illinois. And THEY were the ones who had their towns, homes, businesses, and lands taken over through intimidation, violence, and various other means. They didn't leave all those towns for a change of scenery, nor did they march away from Nauvoo in the middle of winter with only the clothes on their backs for the fun of it!
-- "Joseph Smith was likely killed by Masons because he'd broken his oath to keep the Masonic rituals secret." The masons did not kill Joseph Smith. An mob of angry, swearing, drunken men killed him.
-- "This is easily confirmed online and even from Mormon sources." Not every one online or every author who writes a book and says they're Mormon, are in fact Mormon. Some are not, but say they are to discredit the church. Others are people who used to be Mormon, but were hurt, embarrassed, or excommunicated by the church, and want to lash out. None of this means that they are correct, and they would be thrilled to know that others were repeating their dribble.
-- "Smith also had a gun on him that was smuggled into the jail and he personally killed two men who were storming the jail." Haven't heard this one, EVER. But if true, he would have fired the gun in self-defense, as every person on this planet would have done when confronted with a gun-touting mob screaming for their blood.
Oh, and the other posts on this article show that Mona was right. Mormons are not the most persecuted group (she never said that), but Mormons are one of the last minority groups that it is still acceptable to slander and degrade. If there were as many websites out there defaming African Americans, Muslims, Chinese, or any other group as there are against Mormons, the outcry would be deafening. Instead, in this, the beginning of the 21st century, there is only a disturbing silence.
Comment: #6
Posted by: leeann
Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:05 AM
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