The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily of the Davis Clipper.
In the 29 years of writing this column, I have often focused on silliness emanating equally from celebrities, common folk, talk show hosts, and politicians. But as I begin the 29th year (some 1,450 columns), I am finding silliness (some would call it stupidity) in the words of a fellow journalist.
The columnist/analyst is a man named Alex Beam who writes for the Boston Globe, a premier newspaper and one not known for foolish rattlings. I have never met Alex Beam, but I wonder if he met another Bean, Mr. Jim Beam, before sitting down at his computer to hack out his recent column on Mitt Romney.
Boston writers know Mitt well; they covered his generally praised work as Massachusetts governor, including his support of the state plan morphing into the Affordable Care Act. But while they know Mitt, they obviously don’t have a good handle on Mitt’s religion.
The Alex Beam column (which appeared in the Jan. 31 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune) contends that Mormons really didn’t want Mitt Romney to win the presidency.
“My personal view,” he writes, “is that the church’s 12 ruling prophets, seers, and revelators, who also call themselves the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, are greatly relieved that Romney came in second.”
And his reason? The LDS Church (and its members) “dreaded” his winning because it would subject “a difficult-to-fathom religion – one recent Mormon Church president called his flock ‘a peculiar people’ – to unwelcome scrutiny.”
The columnist thinks the LDS Church finds discomfort in coming under the glare of its pronouncements, from its pre-1978 ban on admitting blacks to the priesthood to its current opposition to same-sex marriage.
Sorry, Mr. Beam, but if the LDS Church didn’t want the publicity which comes from its “positions”, it wouldn’t make them public. If Mormons didn’t want incoming fire or criticism, they would hide behind the berm and keep quiet.
Mormons don’t avoid scrutiny. If they did, they wouldn’t be sending out thousands of missionaries. Furthermore, if Beam is correct, how does he explain the polls that show upwards of 80 percent of LDS members voted for Romney is the last election?
In his column, Beam quotes noted Columbia professor and Mormon author Richard Bushman as saying Mormons “don’t like to feel they are moving with the tide. They like to swim against the tide.”
In some circles, that would mean that Mormons feel as if they are principled – not necessarily a bad thing even if you disagree with those principles. And I’m not sure most Mormons would salute the concept that they are “a peculiar people;” the Mormons I know feel that they are fairly normal and think that Mitt’s winning the presidency would have shown Americans (and the world) just how normal they really are.
Beam is right in one sense. He wrote that most Americans could only name five or six other Mormons: The Osmonds, Sen. Harry Reid, Glenn Beck, Steve Young, and vampire writer Stephenie Meyer. But he’s off base thinking that church members were scared that a Mitt Romney win would mean too much exposure of the religion.
Mormons would have celebrated his ascension to the White House just as African-Americans were exuberant when Barack Obama got the keys. To see it otherwise is ...well, the only thing I can think of is the power of too much Jim Beam in a columnist on a deadline.