Imagine it is the summer of 2000 soon after presidential candidate Al Gore chose Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, to be his vice-presidential running mate. Newsweek does a cover story on Lieberman’s historic selection. Blazed across the cover are the words, “The Jewish Moment,” with a photograph of Lieberman, though the image is photoshopped. The face is clearly Lieberman’s, but in the image he is bearded in full rabbinic garb sitting at a desk preparing a sermon. And over his left shoulder is a short line that leads to a phrase in small print, “Joseph Lieberman, Jew for Vice President.” I suspect that the Anti-Defamation League would not find this depiction of a Jewish United States Senator even remotely amusing. They would, rightfully, see it as an image that plays to the sorts of stereotypes that have often accompanied anti-semitism in both its benign and most malignant forms.
If you have followed me so far, then you may draw the conclusion that the Newsweek editors who published this week’s cover feel the same way about Mormons as anti-semites feel about Jews. Such vile bigotry, of course, is perfectly acceptable among the sophisticates that inhabit the enlightened enclaves of Manhattan and San Francisco. But I’d rather cling to my guns and religion than cling to the stereotypes that allow me to gun another’s religion. (See Get Religion’s take on it here)