REKEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2011
The Wrong Kind of Minority
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.