Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mormon-bashing at The Nation

If I were Mormon, I'd be furious at The Nation.

The Nation just posted an unsigned editorial gloating over the sacking of Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in response to Prosecutor-gate. What angers me is not so much The Nation's hit-a-man-once-he's-down style (hey, this is national politics) but rather, its gratuitous sneer at Sampson's religious beliefs. Sampson is a Mormon.

The Nation wrote "It fell to Kyle Sampson to get rid of the federal prosecutors without bothering [Gonzales]. Kyle was the right person to do it. He's a Mormon, a Brigham Young University graduate. You can depend on them."

Can you believe what you just read? I'm not even Mormon, but I am appalled that a journal that pretends to have something to say about American public order can broadcast such obvious bigotry. Suppose The Nation had written "Kyle was the right person to do it. He's a Jew, a Yeshiva University graduate. You can depend on them." Would such persiflage have even been considered, let alone pass unchallenged? Should it?

How does Sampson's religious affiliation affect the assessment of his public conduct? What on earth does his attending BYU have to do with this case? Sampson also attended the prestigious University of Chicago School of Law, but notice, The Nation did not try to attack him there. Maybe it was afraid those Chicago lawyers would hit back. Hard. Not like those Donnie & Marie Mormons.

The Nation owes Kyle Sampson and Mormons an immediate apology for attacking them on the basis of their religious identity. Moreover, it owes all Americans a promise never again to attack any man or woman on the basis of religion. Let's see whether "America's oldest and most widely read weekly journal of progressive political and cultural news, opinion and analysis" offers any.


PS: The mean-spirited streak so evident in The Nation's Mormon-bashing is reflected here in other ways. Consider their ridicule of Howard Hughes: "Howard Hughes had a bunch of bright guys like Kyle working for him. They made sure the late billionaire had fresh Kleenex boxes for his feet so he could walk around in his Las Vegas penthouse and be OK."

What (I mean, besides the fact that dead men can't defend themselves) makes The Nation's editors think that they can drag Howard Hughes into their essay and make jokes about him? In his day, Hughes patented more inventions, set more technological records, and employed countless more Americans than a busload of East-coast magazine editors, all the while suffering from a debilitating psychological disorder. For that, The Nation mocks him. What next? Giggling at films of FDR doing his fake-walk? Exchanging smug glances when a recording of Churchill betrays his stutter? I thought The Nation saw itself as an inspiration for student publications, not as an imitator of high-school humor.

In short, if The Nation wants to go after a politician for conduct in high office, fine by me; but not for what a politician believes about God, let alone for physical or mental disabilities over which no one has control.