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Marginalizing the Mormon 'bogeyman'
August 28, 11:11 AM LDS Church Examiner Greg West

Earlier this week, I wrote an article that claimed that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are beginning to be used as a potential "bogeyman" to be marginalized in political discourse. Today, I will present Examiner Ryan Witt's article about Glenn Beck as "Exhibit A."

Radio and television host (and fellow Latter-day Saint) Glenn Beck has been the focus of a firestorm in the past week. His approach to challenge the Obama Administration and the media has been ingenious. He has simply assembled a list of questions that should be answered by the Administration and inquired as to why the media isn't asking them. He has not drawn any conclusion, allowing his viewers and listeners to take the facts at face value. He has asked the Administration for a cogent, alternate explanation. So far, the only facts that they have "refuted" are the nature of the titles of various individuals, insisting that they should be called "special advisors," not "czars."

These individuals have been appointed by the president without oversight from Congress. They are unaccountable to the elected representatives of the people. They exercise power and authority that is not granted in the Constitution. The appointment of these individuals skirts around the FBI's vetting process, which is how they would normally obtain a security clearance and access to classified government information. Glenn Beck has simply revealed that several of these individuals have public information available through their writings and speeches that indicate that they have criminal backgrounds and have been members of radical, communist organizations.

One of the standard questions one is asked when he is vetted for a position of public trust, whether that be enlisting in the armed forces or assuming elected office is whether the individual has ever belonged to an organization that advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by violent means. If the answer to that question is yes, they will be excluded from service and, more particularly, be denied access to classified information. I spent years in the intelligence services of our country. I know what the vetting process is like for access to sensitive information. This process has been subverted and the White House is doing its own vetting because none of these individuals would otherwise pass the background investigation.

All Glenn Beck has done is to raise the questions. None of the a priori facts about the background of these individuals has been challenged by the White House. Instead, their response has been to engage their loyalists in ad hominem attacks on Glenn Beck himself. Beck readily admits that he is a recovering alcoholic and that his past was far from exemplary. Nevertheless, he has shown great honesty, courage, and moral character, which has been the foundation of his recovery. Most offensive to latter-day saints have been the attacks against his religion.

Today's article by Ryan Witt, the Political Buzz Examiner, engaged in character assassination, not only against Glenn Beck, but also latter-day saints in general. This is a form of bigotry. Were such generalizations to be made against another religious or ethnic group, such as Jews, Muslims, or African-Americans, there would surely be protests lodged.

Witt wrote:

"First, using Beck's logic we could say that he is a big believer in excessive drug use. After all, Beck has admitted to a past filled with alcohol and substance abuse. Beck also recently interviewed Rush Limbaugh who also admitted to the abuse of controlled substances. Clearly if we follow Beck's logic he believes in the free use of currently illegal substances and a drug-based culture."

The present conduct of Glenn Beck clearly shows that he does not advocate substance abuse. Beck works as a volunteer with an addiction recovery group today, assisting others in overcoming their addictions. This assertion does nothing to negate the fact that Van Jones was a self-avowed, militant, communist radical, Inasmuch as Beck has turned away from alcohol addiction and discourages others from doing the same, should we not ask Van Jones if he has disavowed his communist past and teaches others to avoid the dangers of such harmful political ideals? Or unlike Beck, is Jones still an unrepentant radical?

Witt's second point:

"Secondly, based on Beck's past we must assume he is opposed to traditional family values. Beck divorced his first wife partially due to his substance abuse. Beck's previous friendly interviews with Mark Sanford demonstrate his complete disregard for the sanctity of marriage. Clearly, based on Beck's logic we can assume he does not believe the traditional family unit to be an essential part of the American way of life."

Again, Witt makes Beck's past more relevant than his present. Beck has openly admitted his faults, tearfully at times. There is clear evidence of his attempts to make things right with his loved ones and his God. Since his initial "friendly interviews," Beck has openly criticized Sanford since the revelations of his marital infidelity and his misuse of the office of governor. Are we to blame Beck because he did not have some psychic ability to discern that the man was a moral hypocrite? The argument that Beck's "logic" leads us to assume that he doesn't believe in the traditional family is absurd. Liberals would protest a militant right-winger's propensity to judge everything that the late Senator Ted Kennedy accomplished by what occurred in Chappaquiddick. Are we to assume that a person is incapable of self-improvement, regret, and repentance? If there is no forgiveness for faults, particularly those committed in our youth, then no one would ever qualify for a position of trust, much less eternal salvation.

Witt's final point is an overt display of bigotry.

"Finally, based upon Beck's logic we can also question his past with the Church of Latter Day Saints. The church has been criticized by some for its past associations with polygamy. Some critics claim the church also holds racist beliefs. If we can assume the worst about Van Jones can we not also assume the worst about Glenn Beck based upon our worst assumptions of the Church of Latter Day Saints (even false allegations)?"

All this point displays is a narrow-minded prejudice against a religion that is nearly as large as the entire Jewish population in the world. Did not ancient Hebrew prophets practice polygamy? Did they not hold the opinion that they were a chosen people above all others? Were those beliefs not racist? Do Jews come under similar condemnation from Mr. Witt? Religions evolve over time. At times they are militant. At times they moderate. At times, new revelation comes that brings greater understanding. The continuum of faith does not exclude progress. Nevertheless, if religion can provide ammunition for a politically expedient attack, Ryan Witt is willing to set aside fairness and indulge in the stereotyping of 13 million latter-day saints. If his reasoning is to be granted any credence whatsoever, the underlying assumption is that any citizen who belongs to any religion may have his opinions summarily dismissed by reason of his faith.

In Mr. Witt's summation, he states:

"Some will say I am comparing apples and oranges. To those people I would simply say if you believe my attacks on Glenn Beck are a bogus manipulations of facts (which they are) then you also must concede the attacks on Van Jones are a stretch from reality. If you accept Beck's logic you must also accept the same logic used against Beck."

The purposeful use of bigotry and character assassination, only to obsequiously disavow it is an act of moral cowardice on Mr. Witt's part. He has displayed his prejudice and seeks afterward to hide his contempt for latter-day saints, claiming it was just a rhetorical device. Again, let me reiterate, the White House has not denied the a priori biographical information on Van Jones or any of the other radical czars that Glenn Beck has revealed. The facts speak for themselves, that's why character assassination on Beck is the only tool available to them.

Glenn Beck has not advanced any explanations of these various facts. He has yet to draw any conclusions and has repeatedly invited the White House to provide an alternative explanation of these things. Glenn Beck has allowed his audience, some three million strong, to see the truth and draw their own conclusions. If the administration's supporters are comfortable with having dedicated, radical communists advising the President of the United States, yet they are uncomfortable with having the facts about these appointees exposed, it says something about them that is not at all reassuring to the rest of us.

As for Mr. Witt, he needs to be more circumspect when airing his prejudices in print and realize that bigotry against latter-day saints is every bit as offensive as when such sentiments are directed towards Jews or other faiths. Concerning Glenn Beck, I echo his message that, if Americans don't "awake[n] to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you" (Ether 8:24) we may very well see the collapse of our Republic. Glenn Beck is sounding the alarm, and those who wish to destroy our liberty are not happy about it. In the process, the enemies of freedom will use his religion as a "bogeyman" to persuade others from listening to verifiable, objective facts about them.

For more info:

The Society for the Prevention of Anti-Mormonism

Glenn Beck: Reasonable questions for unreasonable times

David Horowitz (Frontpagemag.com)
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