Bigotry is Not An American Value, Gov. Romney

Source: National Journal

No, Gov. Romney, bigotry is not an American value.

Defending the Ku Klux Klan as a bastion of free speech is not an American value.

Holding up Pastor Terry Jones, who lynched an effigy of President Obama and burned a Quran, as a shining example of the value of free speech is not an American value.

Championing Westboro Baptist Church as the emblem of free speech is not an American value.

And neither is defending an offensive, amateurish and bigoted documentary that mocks Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

Those, rather, are the liabilities of free speech that we tolerate in the name of freedom but nevertheless condemn as unacceptable in the name of humanity. We don’t stand against such hatred on the grounds of the First Amendment or any of our freedoms to do so. Rather, we condemn them on the grounds of our basic humanity and decency that transcends our nationalities, ethnicities, races and religions.

But Gov. Romney, you not only got your facts wrong in your response to this tragedy, you have also more troublingly thrown your hat in as the archdefender of extremist rhetoric that incites the kind of violence that kills diplomats in embassies. Instead of standing with America as we mourned the fallen and condemned the violence — as President Obama and his Administration actually did in the wake of the attack, you, Gov. Romney have aligned yourself with with the KKKs, the Terry Joneses, the Westboro Baptists and the secretive filmmakers of the most recent documentary who exploit our hard-won, long-defended freedom of speech in order to spew hate, violence and vitriol.

No one is apologizing  for American values. But as Americans we are duty-bound to speak out when our values — our freedoms — are abused by those that want to watch the world burn.  No one is apologizing  for American values. Rather we are speaking up for them. We are speaking up for tolerance, decency and respect. These are American values that, I’m convinced, will eventually win out just as they have won out in the past for African-Americans, for Catholic immigrants, people of Jewish faith, and Mormons. 

Do we really want to hold up the kind of behavior that ridicules, belittles and demeans religion as the best America has to offer in terms of value?

Romney’s response is more than a cynical attempt in the midst of tragedy to turn the death of these American diplomats into a talking point to reinforce his misinformed characterization of Obama’s foreign policy strategy. It is a revelation of his character and his politics, of who he will speak up for — militant, hate-filled zealots crusading against a specific religion — and who he will not — the U.S. civil service members doing the hard, tenuous work of diplomacy in dangerous situations abroad.

These men and women — not the folk who issued the terrible anti-Islam documentary — represent American values. May we honor them, their lives and now their deaths, not the extremists in our country who try to tear down in one short video clip all that they have worked for years to build.

About David R. Henson

David Henson received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He is a father of two young sons and the husband of a medical school student.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-B-Kilpatrick/1559737138 Joshua B Kilpatrick

    I have to say that when we allow idiots to speak their minds we know exactly where they stand. During an election this is critical. But then again I already knew he is an idiot.

  • Noel Harshman

    Repugnant Republicans Romney and Ryan.

  • Ljaszczak1

    Well, the people who worked at the embassy were, after all, “government workers,” and we know how Republicans despise the “government” and anyone associated with it, except their own members of Congress with their bloated salaries, pensions, and government-provided health care.

    • Sarah

      Actually, members of Congress opted out of having to be included in government provided health care. So, they make the rules we have to live by, but they themselves don’t have to experience the fall out. But yeah, the bloated salaries and pensions part is right…

      • csalafia

        Nice sidebar, but wrong. Congress already participates in the Federal Health Benefits Program and, under the ACA, will be offered only health plans under the ACA as of Jan. 1, 2014.

  • Tomas Reyes

    I agree with the points made in this article 100% … it is sad that a person who has won the nomination of a major political party in the United States does not have the discernment and critical-thinking skills to make these very obvious connections to reality. I have to wonder if it was a failure in his early childhood development or was his education second-class … was he underprivileged as a child or was he perhaps abused?

  • Jim Olson

    Amen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1286316418 James Bridges

    A case of shouting,”Fire” in a crowded theater. The person who made this “movie” knew there was a strong potential for a hostile back lash, but to exercise their 1st amendment rights, they did it any way. There really are people who are trying to bring about the end of the world, this dumb ass has done a good job.

    • Susan Burns

      He is some type of Christian zealot trying to bring about Armageddon. They are tired of waiting and want Jesus to return NOW.

      • TT

        He’s also Egyptian by birth, which makes this whole thing all the more sickening. I wonder if the protesters had known this would it have made a difference?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/A-William-Michael/1044899488 A William Michael

    First of all, it was a consulate and not an embassy. Secondly, you are perfectly right to bring Mr. Romney to task – we should not tolerate this sort of reaction to the exercise of free speech but we should also be adamant about people not issuing provocative attacks on the religious beliefs of others. But we have no moral high ground in this matter, having seen numerous examples of such religious intolerance right here in the United States.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Good catch. It was also a shooting. I’ve fixed it. Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nils-Lindstrom/100000935990631 Nils Lindstrom

      Mr Romney said exactly what needed to be said. That’s right. Instead of attacking the attackers — in either word or deed — our government condemned those who had made the video.

      Within hours, obviously emboldened by Obama’s wimpy rejoinder, Islamist savages attacked the American Embassy in Libya and murdered four diplomats, including our ambassador.

      Mr Romney’s belongs to a religion who’s ancestor’s bones are scattered across the plains of America. He, better than most of us, knows about REAL religious intolerance. He just doesn’t play that card. Show me one example of an American mob engaging in anything commensurate to what the world has been watching in the Middle East for the last decade. If anyone can take the moral high ground on this issue it is Romney.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        The next time you refer to any human beings as savages in this forum, you will be banned. I will not tolerate such racist, bigoted language.

        I think you’ve shown yourself for what you are in that comment alone.

      • Jacklgraves

        But it’s alright to call someone a bigot on the basis of a single comment, when there is obviously no real evidence of his being so and a great deal of evidence to refute the charge. Very righteous of you. I guess your house on the moral high ground must have a wonderful view.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        If you pay attention, I’m calling neither Romney nor Mr. Lindstrom a bigot. Rather, I noted that Mr. Lindstrom uses racist, bigoted language and that it says something about his character.

        And yes, I find it inappropriate and telling when someone refers to other humans as “savages.” There’s a long history of how that word is used when applied to whole groups and it is never anything but racist and bigoted.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004013161107 Charles Capo

        (Edited for slurs based on sexuality) are bigots muslims are bigots. pointing that out is not bigotry you dumb donkey

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1337467288 Bob Long

        (Comment edited) is as (comment edited) does…
        You know…walks like a duck…quacks like a duck
        guess what…ITS A DUCK!

      • Shibui

        And how are you walking right now?

      • tomm capp

        You must be crazy , stupid or blind. Did you see the pictures of Ambassador Stevens. the brutalized him to death. They are violent lawless savages like thier false prophet mohammed. wake up.

      • Shibui

        I believe, actually, that the Ambassador died of smoke inhalation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Larry-Viles/100000555613715 Larry Viles

        When you kill someone because someone else offended you. You are a (comment edited)

      • Shibui

        So that is true of the U.S. when we have — and pledge to again — kill those who have offended us?

      • Minnowlife

        I simply cannot agree.

      • jcbridge

        I think many in the south reacted as a mob against the integration of blacks in the 60′s. many were killed. churches were burned. we cannot be self-rightious. we have had our own bigots but I hope we have progressed in the last 50 years.

      • tomm capp

        Obama and Clinton are cowards and hypocrites who immedialty took the side of the terrorists with vain babbling about despicable intolerance blah blah blah. Yet they are silent as the grave when Christians and Jews are raped tortured and murdered in the name of the pedophile false prophet mohammed. Romney nailed it.

      • http://twitter.com/RKahendi Rose Kahendi

        Sigh… Why are you folks so invested in proving that “Muslims are intolerant” and yet you forget to mention that the nations where this violence is happening are nations that recently were or still are in conflict. How can you honestly compare American society (Have any drones been dropping missiles on your neighborhood lately? Have you undergone a coup or civil war recently?) to Libyan, Yemeni, or Afghani society?

        I think some folks living in the Western hemisphere don’t realize just how privileged they are. You have no idea what it means to live in a nation at war. The wars you experience are, for the most part, halfway across the world, on TV. You send some of your kids there as soldiers. When they come back injured or dead, many of you want nothing to do with them. Heck, you even want to cut funding for their programs. And you don’t see the irony in the fact that, despite all this, you can sit in your comfy chairs and pontificate about freedom of speech?

      • lindylou

        The attackers were playing out a long-planned demonstration. Now, in the morning news, it is reported that they have emboldened more anti-american protesters, and result will be even more death and destruction. The bigotry expressed in the film may have been a trigger, but the gun was already loaded.

      • JRH

        “Show me one example of an American mob engaging in anything commensurate to what the world has been watching in the Middle East for the last decade.”
        Well, we have to go back aways to the 1857 Mountain Meadow Massacre in which about 110 white Americans headed for California were massacred in what is now southwestern Utah by Mormon settlers. The murdered immigrants were lured from their defensive position and disarmed by promises of safe passage to Cedar City and almost all of the 120 persons in the immigrant party, women included, were shot stabbed, shot or bludgeoned to death. Only a few very young children were spared to be raised by Mormon families. Until the 9/11 atrocity, it was the largest mass murder of Anglos (of course we don’t count Indians) in U.S. history, and ironically (?) it too occurred on September 11.

      • Drjbaust

        Genocide of native Americans.
        Slavery, lynchings of African Americans, interment and confiscation of property of Japanese Americans (but not White Germans, which is my ancestry), etc. Only country to use nuclear weapons on civilians.

      • http://profiles.google.com/kristenefournier Kristen Fournier

        ” Show me one example of an American mob engaging in anything commensurate to what the world has been watching in the Middle East for the last decade. ”
        umm…Are you familiar with American history?

    • tomm capp

      you stinking cowardly hypocrites. You know damn right well you couldnt care one iota less about attacking the belifs of Christians and Jews,in fact you thing its great fun to mock Christ and call it art when the crucifix is dipped in urine and elephant dung and call it ”art” and free speech. Face it , you arent fooling anyone, you are cowards when it gets down to the real nitty gritty you will throw out the first amendment and cower to the threats of the violent bloody brute muslims.

  • Jimbo_zone

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo_u_BRmWuc&feature=player_embedded the producer of that film actually did a pretty good job of chronicaling the mormon story…

  • Louinjax

    Any so-called documentary that mocks a religious faith is essentially religious pornography, so let’s call it just that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685138429 Chris Siler

    This was extremely well stated, thank you.

  • Ron

    Well said.

  • American Airman

    LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE PEOPLE! four of your fellow Americans are killed, our consulate burned, and our Egyptian embassy stormed on the anniversary of 9/11 and we apologize for a film allegedly “insulting to Islam?…” stop trying to throw Mitt Romney in with the KKK for speaking out for freedom of speech, leave the name calling for the idiots who abused freedom of speech to make the video. Its time the president shows a little good old fashioned American courage and pride, the world needs to know we are not a power to be trifled with..

    • Scottchesterhall

      American Airman…have you actually read the statements released by the Obama administration? They condemned the action and proclaimed that justice would be served.

      Furthermore, have you watched the video that started all this? Are you wanting Obama to side with the hateful, mocking perspective of the you tube video?

      You seem to be taking your news from Romney’s statement.

      • Holly

        This video is nothing compared to the dung on the Madonna and urine on Christ. Christians have had to accept the disparagement in the name of freedom of speech. We did not set fires and kill people, WE prayed and we prayed for those who created the so called art and we prayed for those who enjoyed it.
        I suggest you all read “Islam Unveiled” by Robert Spencer. Always of the belief that everyone prays to god but that it is really only one God, I wanted to find out why muslims would attack and kill innocents on 9/11/01. I learned much about islam and mohammed. mohammed was not what one would think of as a reputable godly man. He implemented some really earthly perks for himself primarily and then for men in general. He put women in a catagory of cattle and really not even that elevated. The koran states it is their duty to convert all infidels to islam. If they don’t then they are to be killed. Plain and simple. If muslims believe in the koran then there are no moderates.
        If you want to know what islamist’s plans for the world read another book called “Blood of Lambs” by a former terrorist who converted to Christianity. In it he exposes exactly what islam is and how poorly our country has dealt with terrorism.
        Just quit making excuses for the terror by the so called ‘religion of peace’. Quit blaming others for what it and they are doing. It is NO one other that islamists who have caused all the bloodshed. We need to stand together to fight the enemy and it is islam not Mr. Romney.
        God bless the United States of America and all those who defend her.

    • Morton

      Yep. that’s right. Just like GW Bush did. Exactly how many terrorists bought on his watch? Fifty something? How many on Obama’s watch? One Thousand, Nine Hundred Plus, including the big one . You know, Osama? GW was a pushover compared to Obama. The track records speak for themselves, so get your head out of your ass!

    • dbum

      AA, you are flat out barking up the wrong tree with this. Not only was Rmoney wrong, he wasn’t in synch with the general population of those countries who condemned the attacks. He tried something political only and failed miserably, just as he will if he were Commander-in-Chief. Your call to arms, not so cleverly disguised, is the same sophmoric attitude that GWB had. That’s what started a lot of these problems we now have.

      Please try to be more informed when commenting.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nils-Lindstrom/100000935990631 Nils Lindstrom

        No dbum – In truth, Romney’s statement was in reference to the very first response from an official source at the beginning of the crisis in Egypt: the statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. This was after it was known that trouble had spread to Libya, and there had been at least one American casualty, but before the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens was reported:

        The media has manufactured Romney’s statement as a “Gaffe”. He said what should have been said given the outrageous statement from the Cairo Embassy.

      • dbum

        That matters little. What makes the statement from Egypt so awful? And why is there so much butt kissing from the right of the actual provocateur? The “missing the forest for the tree” aspect of conservatism on this subject is mind staggering.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        Although Romney didn’t know he was responding to the embassy at the time he issued the statement. He thought he was responding to an official Obama Administration statement. If you’ll actually read through the links I included you might learn a little something.

      • dbum

        What this response from Romney continues to prove is his own inability to have a clear foreign policy ability to lead. The American Conservative has pointed it out as well as ABC news on his vacillation over the initial Libya actions the president took. This further proves the Romney doesn’t lead, he follows. Or, he allows his campaign to be mismanaged. Either way, I wouldn’t vote for him. And, it broad brushes, like any error, a whole population. Not so smart, and grossly inaccurate as we have been seeing. However, typical of Romney.

      • Shibui

        How is it outrageous simply to state — in an attempt to moderate the anger building — that the film trailer was not representative and the U.S. nor did it represent the thoughts of most of us in the U.S. ? No apology. Simply a diplomatic statement.

    • mbm

      you along with Romney have got your facts, along with your priorities, all wrong

  • Sammy

    What KILLS me daily at an alarming rate is how hypocritical the Left can be in their accusations of “extremist rhetoric”. As a lifelong Liberal who engages regularly both political extremes it has become PAINFULLY clear that the Left is no less guilty of the same “fascism” it vilifies the Right for. Each side picks the most outrageous examples of the other to justify their own extremism. Meanwhile, NO ONE is listening and no REAL progress is made.

    • Mattykj21

      The big, big different being that the Left’s extremists are on the extreme. The Right’s extremists are in Congress and running for President.

    • thirteendollabill

      The real distinction to make here, I believe, is that one group believes in killing others who disagree with their politics, religious beliefs, morals, drugs-of-choice, etc. The rest of us do not. The first group includes right wingers, members of that-which-is-called-left-wing-in-America, Muslims, Christians, every kind of person. As does the second group.

  • http://twitter.com/dmcrane dmcrane

    Romney’s statement was embarrassing and uncalled for. He is not the President, and if going off half-cocked like he did on this issue is his character, then he should never be the President. And I totally agree with this article. It speaks to what is best is us, not to what is the worst.

  • D O’Neill

    “We speak up for tolerance, decency, and respect?” You list as groups benefitting from those values those that are African-American, Catholics, Jews, Mormons. Missing from the list is Native Americans. They are easy to forget because we exiled them to no-man’s land reservations…out of sight, out of mind. If you asked those on the reservations if they feel like “we” have ever been concerned with being tolerant, decent, or respectful of them, I suspect they would scream NO!!! So don’t try to make this country more virtuous than it is. When you point the finger at Romney, how many fingers are pointing back at you?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      You are certainly right that the genocide against Native Americans is a shameful legacy of America’s past. I agree. I am an advocate for reparations, national repentance and other measures. The most severe and systemic poverty in America is on reservations. I am proud of the measures my church has taken to advocate for this situation positively.

    • Jim Roberts

      I can only guess as to the author’s intent, but perhaps he did not list them as having benefitted from the American values of tolerance, decency and respect because, to date, they have no benefitted, by and in large. Had he said that they did, no doubt you would have taken umbrage at the suggestion, and rightly so.

      • http://www.facebook.com/vicky.chase.98 Vicky Chase

        Why is it that so many people of faith are bigoted? I believe that the Jewish followers of Jesus wanted social justice for the world. I have discovered a new book that shows how this social justice message was covered up by His Gentile followers. The church has blinkered its past. It’s no secret that Jesus strove to bring in the kingdom of justice here on earth and his followers implemented it in the communal society we read about in Acts 2:44-47. The church’s dirty secret is that the Jewish followers of Jesus continued to hold his vision dear, later influencing such sects as the Bogomils and even, according to their own oral traditions, the Doukhobors. After exterminating the Jewish followers of Jesus, the church’s historians buried this history of justice-seeking but an author by the name of Lawrence Goudge has exhumed their story and presented it in ‘Cover-Up: How the Church Silenced Jesus’s True Heirs.’ This book does the world a great service by illuminating for the first time this vital part of the history of social justice. I found it at http://tinyurl.com/69cazll.

    • baldguy

      An omission does not necessarily equal hypocrisy, and a hypocrite is not necessarily wrong. Accusing the critic of being no better than Romney does not invalidate the criticism.

  • Sarah

    Not to defend Romney; I honestly haven’t been keeping up with the news lately , but the article linked in your post says, “The center also said that Mr. Klein was the founder of Courageous Christians United, which conducts demonstrations outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques.” Even though I disagree entirely with what’s being thrown down by Romney here, he is defending someone’s right to protest against his own personal beliefs; he’s not cherry picking who gets to protest or disagree or against whom they are allowed to protest.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      You are conflating rights and values.

      • Sarah

        As a wife, mother and Presbyterian, I’m not sure that, with politicians, you can demand that they hold the same values as anyone. Most of them do not hold many of the same values as I do as we do not believe nearly the same things. But we do uphold the same rights as we agree on the constitution at the very least. I can’t ask Romney or Obama to espouse the same beliefs that I have; that would make this..well..NOT the United States of America. But we can all rest on the same rights that the constitution gives us…which also makes this…well…The United States of America. These rights were upheld by both men, in different ways, but still upheld. There will never be a president with whom I will agree on all things, unless of course, I were elected to office. But I sure hope that whomever is sitting there and governing me, is willing to protect my RIGHTS which allow me to have my VALUES.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        The problem is Romney called them “American values” not my values or your values. He is in fact speaking for you when he says this.

  • Marcie

    I wish I had noted who said it and where but several years ago I read something that said to the effect that we need acceptance of differences rather than tolerance. And those words are HUGE.

    And considering the prejudice and violence that the Mormons were subjected to in the 19th Century (which is why they traveled to and established Utah), I find it difficult to understand both Mr. Romney’s and Mr. Ryan’s stands on just about everything.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nils-Lindstrom/100000935990631 Nils Lindstrom

      Why should I accept the intolerance of Islam towards me. Why should I tolerate their insults to what I hold sacred? – burning the American flag? Killing our Ambassador? You’ve got to be kidding.

      What is difficult to understand is how any association can be made to the KKK with Romney’s comment when virtually EVERY member of the KKK and every segregationist member of congress was a DEMOCRAT!

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        Poor argumentation. Sidebars and red herrings rather than engaging with content of the post in a meaningful way. Plus, the all-caps are totally awesome.

        So nice to have my first conservative troll on the site. You serve only to increase the popularity of this post. Thanks!

      • Fank

        Its certainly clear you are interested in popularity rather that truth or reason, well done!

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        Rather, I’m more interested in getting this message out.

      • Msodie

        No one says you should accept their intolerance, but to respond with hate gets us nowhere! As a Christian I am a witness by my actions. I don’t know if you are a Christian, but plain, old-fashioned human decency should be our guide.

    • Msodie

      I agree, Marcie! I’ve always said that mere tolerance is not enough; we must embrace our differences!

  • Caryn Riswold

    Well said, David. Thank you.
    I linked to it at the end of my take on the issue here:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carynriswold/2012/09/nothing-wrong-cairo-statement/

  • Jeff

    Is intellectual dishonesty one of our values?

    I strongly suspect that Gov. Romney would equally defend your right to make a scurillous attack in a blog post as he would the right of some clown to make an offensive documentary. It’s unclear how endorsement of your right to speak is tantatmount to embrace of the content of your message. But as you perfectly well know, in this case Gov. Romney expressed support for neither the message nor the speaker. The most that you could say is that he championed a principle, and one that we as Americans have historically valued.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      You are conflating rights with values, and it is telling.

      • Jeff

        An unserious response in support of an unserious post. We /value/ our /right/ to speak freely.

        Can you provide an actual quote from Gov. Romney in which he defends or expresses support for the message of bigotry expressed by the KKK, Terry Jones, Westboro Baptist Church, or the producer of the offensive film in question?

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        Romney said Obama (actually the embassy, but I digress) apologized for American values (but it wasn’t actually an apology but a denunciation of bigotry). In the context of the embassy’s statement, Romney framed the bigoted documentary as an example of American values. Now, had he focused on a more moderated response and explained that the filmmakers have a right to such speech (as the Obama Administration did) while at the same time denouncing its bigotry, few would have had an issue with it. But to not refer to the documentary as part and parcel to American values? It’s no more representative of American values than is the KKK, Westboro Baptist and Terry Jones. We rightly condemn these groups and people just as we should these filmmakers. Hell, Congress recently passed legislation to *curb* Wesboro Baptists right to demonstration and freedom of expression.

        Romney set the terms as a conversation about American values, not rights. And I don’t think that’s accidental at all. It’s telling, just as is your inability to parse the difference between a value and a right.

        Now, I know you want a prooftext quote. What I’m offering is a nuanced and more complex reading of Romney’s comment against culture and context.

        So it’s actually a very serious response. There is a difference between rights and values. I hope you can see that.

        In other words, everyone in America has the *right* to be a bigot. That doesn’t make it an American value.

      • Jeff

        There is indeed a difference between a value and a right, but at the same time, you are failing to acknowledge that as Americans, one of the things that we /value/ is the fact that we are a free society with liberties and /rights/ that are protected by our Constitution. We value our freedoms, we value our rights, but that doesn’t mean we value everything that people do when they exercise those rights.

        I’m not asking for a prooftext, but absent some pattern on Romney’s part for statements supportive of bigotry, your “nuanced” reading is nothing more than confirmation bias on steroids. You’re reading his remark in such a hyper-literal fashion that you exclude much more plausible interpretations of his remark. And as far as I’m aware, the sentence you’re building your entire case on was a response to a reporter’s question, not a prepared statement from the campaign. Viewed through that lens, is it more likely that Romney’s point was that we value the right to free speech, or that we value bigoted speech?

        That you conclude the latter without adducing supporting evidence is what is “telling” — it tells us that you’re approaching this issue unseriously.

        Look, no one says you have to support Romney, or vote for him, or like him. But to extrapolate from a single remark a meaning that there’s no reason to suspect he intended, to associate him with those that all clear-thinking people readily acknowledge as among the worst in our socity, is, in every way, unserious and intellectually dishonest.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        Actually, if you click through the links, you’ll see that Romney’s statement wasn’t some off-the-cuff response to a reporter but an official release from his campaign composed directly by Romney and his advisers collaboratively. So it is actually calculated and intentional, every word. A campaign doesn’t put out a statement like this without knowing exactly what it is saying.

        Again, it is not some response to a reporter. He only double-down with the reporter. His implication is clear: he refers to the bigoted documentary as representative of American values for which no one should apologize.

        It also fits with his broader theme in his book “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.”

        It’s not extrapolation from a single remark, but representative of the cultural discourse that he feeds into, taps into and carries on in the conservative movement. And that he wrote a book about.

      • Jeff

        I stand corrected about the remark; I finally found the full transcript of his remarks yesterday (here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/mitt-romneys-statement-on-the-libya-ambassador-attack/2012/09/12/3d314562-fceb-11e1-b153-218509a954e1_story.html) and indeed it was part of his prepared statement. That wasn’t clear from any of the articles.

        That notwithstanding, you still have yet to provide or even attempt to provide a basis for thinking that bigotry (particularly of the KKK/Phelps/Jones sort) was among the “values” that Romney was referring to.

        But, not content to smear Romney with a flimsy argument, you now seek to pin this same charge of bigotry on the entire conservative movement. So, I stand corrected. You’re not guilty of an unserious argument, you’re just a fundamentally unserious person. Good luck to you.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        You keep calling my arguments unserious, and yet you’ve been coming here debating me for six hours.

        I rather think you take my argument quite seriously, no matter what you might say. What was it Shakespeare said about protesting too much?

        It’s quite telling, particularly when I did in fact answer your questions.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        If it helps, in addition to my comment below, I’m informed by and employing discourse theory.

  • http://twitter.com/RKahendi Rose Kahendi

    The thing that bugs me about Romney is that he should know better. Being a Mormon, he has probably experienced jibes directed at his religion. He is the one Republican candidate I expected to have nuanced views on issues such as these, but he constantly disappoints.

    I feel great sympathy for the men and women who serve their country in different capacities abroad: the challenges and complexities they have to deal with are often unappreciated by many back home.

    • tomm capp

      You unbeleivable hypocrite and coward. Where in the world are mormons murdering ambassadors? Do you live under a rock? The internet is FULL of blasphemous insults againt the Jews and againt the Chrisitan religion. Where, pray tell, are all of the Christian and Jewish MOBS whipping themselves into a murderous frenzy? That s right , NO WHERE! Im sick to death of the bastard obama and the rest of you and your DOUBLE standard that I could puke. Obama took the side of the murderous barbarian murderers instead of standing up for the principles of this nation and civilization; OPEN uninhibited robust debate and the market place of ideas. The FACT is that the FACT is that mohammed WAS exactly like he was portrayed in the video. a base vile murderous pervert pedophile and a criminal. deal with it.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        By all means, go ahead and puke. Oh wait, you already did all over the comments section.

      • http://twitter.com/RKahendi Rose Kahendi

        :)

      • http://twitter.com/RKahendi Rose Kahendi

        Do you actually talk to people this way in real life? And do you find that they listen to you?

      • Halcyonkayaking

        I wonder about your investment or identification with Christianity. Are you a Christian? If so, how do you square that with your proclivity for insults, profanity and just plain meanness?

      • Psyc

        Right, because the Christian Missionaries inciting violence against Vodou Priests in Haiti, or denying food to anyone who doesn’t have a certificate of baptism isn’t religious cruelty and bigotry. I suppose you would feel the same way about the people bombing abortion clinics in Christ’s name or beat gay kids to death.
        You’re right. Christians are never violent or bigoted.

  • Eriskaycavan

    You are part of the choir Romney preaches to – Bigoted and racist and not very bright. Yes, because of free speech in our nation, you are allowed to make those comments.

    President Obama is handling the situation well. Thank God, Romney is NOT
    our president!!

  • Guest

    This article is bang on!

  • tomm capp

    american value = porn , fags, dykes adultery, fornication, and eating feces

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004013161107 Charles Capo

    typical american hypocrite wrote this articfle , IE free speech is good until you say something I disagree with or till you say something that is important, then its ‘abuse’ of free speech. A persons negative reaction to speech dosnt nullify the speakers right to express an unpopular or offensive point of view. Just let me try and tell you that pride parades or muslim gatherings should be shut down because I find it offensive and I may become violent and we’ll see how quick you are to defend unpopular or controversial speech. God how is it possible that americans have strayed so far from the standard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1337467288 Bob Long

    David R Henson, I will pray for you…poor miss-guided sheep…there is a difference between defending a documentary that mocks Islam or Mohammed, and the right of that person to express his or her opinion without the fear of violence being brought upon them or their countrymen. What could you expect from a President who hasn’t been to an intelligence meeting since Sept. 5Th, and after agreeing not to campaign on 911 yet starting that very same day with a plea for those who would volunteer for his campaign to follow the link he provided so they could sign up, and lets not forget the phone call to his highness…whoever that might be…on this very same day 911…what could you expect from this President…exactly what you have …burning consulate, dead Americans, and hostile enemies from countries that we send billions to…oh and lets not forget the nonexistent budget for over 1200 days, and the talk show David Letterman campaign air time is much more important than meeting with the prime minister Netanyahu from Israel…when the proverbial shit hits the fan…I will pray for you David R Henson…

  • duhsciple

    Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
    I imagine that those of us responding to this article are disciples
    I am a duhsciple

    I can’t imagine Jesus burning someone’s holy book or mocking its founder in a movie.
    I can imagine Jesus weeping when people murder one another in the name of God.
    I can’t imagine Jesus killing to maintain the honor of religion.
    I can imagine Jesus dying for enemies who dishonor him.
    I can imagine how much Jesus loves Americans and people of other nationalities.
    I can’t imagine Jesus worrying about American values as sacred ahead of Kingdom values.

    I know that Jesus has strong words for the murderers posting here. When you call your brother or sister a Fool or Idiot or Stupid, then you are liable to the fires of Gehenna. In his Sermon, Jesus had these strong words of warning against some of this fierce trashing of others. Each one of you is sacred, beloved, precious, a pearl of great price. Please remember to treasure one another with amazing love.

    And… Love your enemies! When you are kind to those who agree with you, big whoop! Terrorists manage that. Jesus expects us to be Salt and Light, loving those who hate us.

    Duh

    • Shibui

      Thank you!

  • Omni

    Mr. Henson is the type of spiritual “physician” who needs to heal himself. This is quite a vitriolic attack on Mr. Romney.

    During the 2008 election, Governor Palin’s church in Wasilla suffered an “arson” attack, perhaps because the Governor is viewed as a fundamentalist. Was Mr. Henson outraged by that form of bigotry and evil? Did he speak out against that?

    The hypocrisy, both right and left, in this country is stunning and deplorable and Mr. Henson is unfortunately more part of the problem than of the solution.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Actually, in 2008, in a now-closed blog, I did write about Palin’s unspoken glass-ceiling as a Pentecostal and the bigoted and prejudiced statements that came with that.

      So, even though I disagreed with Palin, I did speak out. Perhaps we should not make so many assumptions before we comment. You know what they say about folks who assume …

      • Omni

        This is perhaps the second time I’ve logged in here and believe I can be excused for not being familiar with your entire body of work. I’m very glad to hear you defended Pentecostals against bigotry. Perhaps you can expand your largesse to include Mormons who aspire to political office.

        Unfortunately your posting here seems rooted in political screed against Romney. Implying that he is allied to the KKK and other hate groups is a severe, uncharitable and unjustifiable stretch that adds to the political miasma that currently plagues the United States.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

        This post isn’t about Mormonism; it’s about Romney identifying and categorizing a bigoted, incendiary film as an American value. I am not implying he is allied with the KKK. I’m implying his implicit defense of the documentary and criticism of anyone who would condemn it is no better than doing the same for hate groups we all can agree to hate.

        The difference is that sadly not everyone agrees that hating Muslims and Islam is a bad thing. Rather, they think of it as an American value.

        Certainly, one has the right to be bigoted in America. But it’s not something we value as a country.

  • Gary (NJ)

    Sheesh, I came to read this blog so I could be with like minded peaceful, inclusive, tolerant Christians, but the vitriolic, racist, homophobic hate speech in the comments section is almost shocking. I don’t know how many people here consider themselves to be “Christian”, but you sure aren’t acting like it. This is what gives religion a bad name, including what *some* Muslims are doing in the Middle East. When we talk and act like this, we are only promoting atheism and agnosticism. I know if I were a ‘seeker’ and read what I just read below, I would be totally turned off and move on to something else. I think in the future, I should just read the articles here and skip the comments section.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      Sorry you have to endure all this. It’s rather uncommon for this space. I have chosen to edited out the worst direct slurs, but I want to leave in the comments themselves as an example of what kind of thinking Romney’s comments feed into.

  • D1Warbler

    Mr. Romney didn’t defend the producer of the obnoxious film. What he defended was freedom of speech! (I’m sorry that you can’t seem to see that, Mr. Henson.)

    I think it is a good thing that someone was willing to defend that vital American value and to question why our current Administration and (by extension — those manning our Embassy in Cairo) were not willing to do so.

    Also, at least Mr. Romney was up that night and paying attention to the crisis instead of going to bed as our President seems to have done!

    AND — it seems to me that he was also paying attention the next day as well when our current President was more concerned about his fund raising appearances in Las Vegas than he seemed to be about the crisis occurring in the Middle East. Not only that, he was willing to put himself and his reputation on the line to answer questions (no matter how obnoxious and colluded they were) from a very antagonistic press the next day. (Something that our current President wasn’t willing to do!)

    I do think that President Obama’s previous actions conveyed weakness to those in the Middle East; and I think that the perception of those in the Middle East that we are currently weak encourages the kinds of protests and violence we are seeing there now.

    You seem to forget that President Obama enthusiastically backed the “Arab Spring” movement. I, for one, thought we would end up with exactly the problems we have ended up with from that movement and was not at all surprised to see the Muslim Brotherhood basically take over both Eqypt and many other countries in the region once the dust had settled from those initial protests.

    I’m going to assume, from his comments about Obama’s weakness in this area and his “apology tour” earlier in his Presidency, as well as his inability to see the danger inherent in the political and religious philosophy of those connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, that Mr. Romney agrees with my assessment of that situation and its danger to our interests in that region.

    Beyond that, this administration failed to provide extra security to our diplomatic outposts on a very critical anniversary — that of 9-11. I’m not a diplomat, or a President, but even I would have made sure that security was beefed up in those outposts on such a sensitive date — especially knowing the Muslim proclivity to want to use such dates for protests, etc., against our country. This doesn’t even address the totally idiotic idea of not even giving our Marines real bullets to defend themselves against such protests in a very critical embassy.

    Thus, unlike you, I think that Mr. Romney said exactly what should have been said. It might have been wiser for him to have waited a bit to say it, but, nonetheless, I think his statement was right on target!

  • Lynch Gerard

    Mr. Romney is running on lies, liberally laced with distortions. But this was simply craven. What amazes me is how blind people are to the simple facts about Romney. There is nothing in his public record that does not have a bad smell. ..and if more of his taxes were public record, this would become obvious.
    Bane: the type of greed and lack of conscience it takes to not just do this work but be the creator and director of it, speaks volumes. If you allowed yourself to open your eyes and be fair-minded, you would not like what you saw. Plus, he may have criminally violated some laws when he maintained his position of director after claiming he had retired, something he said he “retroactively” did to run for governor.
    The Olympics: when questions started to arise about possible unethical or even criminal deals made to find backers, Romney, who previously said all the books would be open, had the records destroyed.
    Running for governor: after saying “Trust me” as to questions about his taxes, whether or not he listed MA as his primary residence, he was caught in the lie of having UT as his primary residence and had to “retroactively” file as a MA residence. He said over and over that he was a “progressive”: what else do you say to win in MA?
    Governor: took a thriving economy under Dukukis and made it 47th in the nation. Infrastructure deterioated as well as other once well-maintained programs. The best thing he did, health care, he now disowns.
    Running for president II: his talking point here are either outright lies or gross distortions. 1) “You didn’t build it” 2) “716 billion out of Medicare” 3) “Obama ended the work requirement.” 4) “Obama going around the world apologizing.” 5) Attributing to Obama a statement by the consulate 6 hours before the trouble started and tripling down on this lie. Now claims to be “severely conservative.” What else do you say to win if you’re a Republican?
    Along with this opportunistic flip-flop, there have been numerous others on key issues.

    I would truly love to say this man is just an empty suit but he is too full of BS.

  • Steve Bailey

    Mr. Romney gets his facts wrong every time he comments on situations, events, or ideas. That his analytical skills are deeply flawed is more than obvious. That he consistently speaks before he thinks is tragic. Yet a substantial number of Americans support him to be elected to the highest office in their land and a leader of the free world? As a Canadian, I am deeply disturbed.

  • Welling Eric

    What a narrow minded, bigoted hypocrite you are. Pretending to be and posing as an “enlightened intellectual”. Your vitriolic and uninformed article revealed your underlying bias.

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