Via Meadia has closely followed the sordid spectacle of professional pundits who have allowed partisan passions to override good sense by attacking Mitt Romney for his Mormon faith. For these pundits, insinuations of theocratic ambition and taunts about Mormons’ “strange” beliefs were considered beyond the pale when the subject was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Latter-day Saint; now that they serve the political purposes of outlets like the New York Times and Salon, they’re suddenly fair game.
Fortunately, the internet is bringing together voices to fight back against this bigotry. During the last primary debate, NY Times columnist Charles Blow tweeted “Let me just tell you this Mitt ‘Muddle Mouth’: I’m a single parent and my kids are *amazing*! Stick that in your magic underwear.” As Buzzfeed noted, “It’s difficult to imagine a Times writer making a similar joke about a Jewish politician.” The online backlash quickly forced an unconditional apology from Blow: “the comment I made about Mormonism during Wed.’s debate was inappropriate, and I regret it. I’m willing to admit that with no caveats.”
Salon‘s editor Joan Walsh similarly faced the wrath of the Twitterati when she tweeted on Tuesday that “Romney’s saving the soul of America—so he doesn’t have to baptize us after we’re dead.” Again, Bipartisan condemnation followed. As one tweet put it, “Oh @joanwalsh you scamp! That Mormon joke was so clever and funny!! Are you gonna joke about [Muslim] Rep. Keith Ellisons faith next?” (Buzzfeed has a nice rundown of the reactions.) Walsh, too, was forced to backpedal, first saying she was “torn” but then apologizing for the comment.
Score one for crowd-sourcing civility. Now if only the Times and Salon would apologize as readily for some of their recent editorial content as these two have done via Twitter, we might be able to put this unfortunate Mormon-bashing phenomenon to bed for good.