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Are Mormons being scapegoated for Prop. 8?

by Brad A. Greenberg

December 12, 2008 | 1:00 pm

You know I don’t like linking to Jonah Goldberg, but this column from last week is just too poignant to pass up:

Did you catch the political ad in which two Jews ring the doorbell of a nice, working-class family? They barge in and rifle through the wife’s purse and then the man’s wallet for any cash. Cackling, they smash the daughter’s piggy bank and pinch every penny. “We need it for the Wall Street bailout!” they exclaim.

No? Maybe you saw the one with the two swarthy Muslims who knock on the door of a nice Jewish family and then blow themselves up?

No? Well, then surely you saw the TV ad in which two smarmy Mormon missionaries knock on the door of an attractive lesbian couple. “Hi, we’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!” says the blond one with a toothy smile. “We’re here to take away your rights.” The Mormon zealots yank the couple’s wedding rings from their fingers and then tear up their marriage license.

As the thugs leave, one says to the other, “That was too easy.” His smirking comrade replies, “Yeah, what should we ban next?” The voice-over implores viewers: “Say no to a church taking over your government.”

Obviously, the first two ads are fictional because no one would dare run such anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim attacks.

The third ad, however, was real. It was broadcast throughout California on election day as part of the effort to rally opposition to Proposition 8, the initiative that successfully repealed the right to same-sex marriage in the state.

What was the reaction to the ad? Widespread condemnation? Scorn? Rebuke? Tepid criticism?

Nope.

This newspaper, a principled opponent of Proposition 8, ran an editorial saying that the “hard-hitting ad” was too little, too late.

The upshot seemed to be that if the pro-gay-marriage forces had just flooded the airwaves with more religious slander, things would have turned out better.

At a pro-gay-marriage rally in Los Angeles after the vote, chants of “Mormon scum!” were reported. Envelopes containing white powder have been sent to Mormon temples in California and Utah; vandals hit other temples. Lists of businesses to boycott—essentially Mormon blacklists—have sprung up on the Internet. The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre resigned because of pressure after it was revealed he gave $1,000 to a pro-Proposition 8 group.

It’s amazing. Hollywood liberals, who shout “McCarthyism!” as a first resort, see nothing wrong with this. If Jews were attacked in this way for giving too much money to a political cause, Barbra Streisand would already have a French passport.

Never mind that Proposition 8 carried nearly every demographic slice of voters. Put aside the fact that the Catholic Church and scores of other Christian churches supported it too. Discount the inconvenient truth that bans on gay marriage have now passed in 30 states. It’s all the Mormons’ fault.

Certainly there is a concern that a witch hunt is brewing. Remember what happened with the manager of El Coyote. It seems like more blacklist than boycott. And the Mormons are taking on the brunt of it.

Why? Not sure. Probably because many Americans, especially those living in large urban cities, like Los Angeles, find Mormons a bit strange. (See: “South Park,” two clips of which is after the jump.) I think we call such displacement of blame scapegoating, which I don’t need to tell the dangers of to folks reading a blog on jewishjournal.com.

But writing in the JPost, a spokesman for the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of America, claims the assault on Mormons threatens all Americans who want to live by their holy scriptures:

The scenario of religious people - and institutions like churches, synagogues and mosques - being branded as bigoted simply for affirming deeply-held religious convictions is around the corner. And eventual prosecution of the same for voicing those convictions is only another corner or two away.

What began as a plea for “rights” is rapidly, and noisily, morphing into an assault on freedom of speech and conscience.

Thoughts?

 

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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