Where is Mitt Romney’s Race Speech? Media Must Hold Romney to Same Standard.
At a campaign stop in Wisconsin recently, two young Ron Paul supporters asked Mitt Romney if he believed that interracial marriage is a sin. He curtly and somewhat rudely responded “No.”
The young Ron Paul supporters were apparently seeking Romney’s opinion on a chronic problem of the doctrine on the Mormon Church, that Black People are inferior. It was not until 1978 that people of African descent were able to become Priests within the Mormon Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an unfortunate history of racial discrimination against Blacks, even long after most other legal racial barriers in other institutions had fallen. The founder believed that Blacks could go to Heaven, but as servants.
Although a “revelation” allowed Blacks to become LDS priests in 1978, the official newspaper of the LDS, the Church News, also in 1978, published an article, “Interracial Marriage Discouraged”.
In a church lesson manual for boys, still used in 2011, this quote is from LDS President Spencer W. Kimball:
“We recommend that people marry those who are the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question.” Spencer Kimball, LDS President, 1973–1985
This may have been what the young Ron Paul supporters were seeking clarification on when they questioned Mitt Romney.
Let’s be clear here, Mitt Romney is not just a member of the LDS Church, he has held the influential post of Ward Bishop.
What is demanded from one presidential candidate, should be demanded of another. Where is Mitt Romney’s Race Speech?
I recall the media firestorm created by then candidate Barack Obama’s Pastor Jeremiah Wright, when the media got hold of an inflammatory sermon. Candidate Obama’s whole candidacy, which up until that time had been a feel good racial story for America, was in serious jeopardy. Obama was forced to interrupt his campaign to give a speech on race.
In looking back, it was a necessary step in his road to the Presidency. The “Race Speech” was wrought with potential peril. If it was too apologetic, he would alienate the solid African-American backing that he had achieved. If it was not apologetic enough, the skeptical, so-called independents would flee. Most observers credit him with delivering a pitch-perfect speech and he overcame this thorny hurdle.
The media must hold Romney to the same standard. Just as the media made Obama “own” Reverend Wright the media should make Romney “own” the Mormon LDS’s terrible race record.
Romney was a LDS member long before 1978 when many of the Church’s official racial discriminatory practices ended. As a man who wants to be your leader and mine where was his voice on these issues? As a leader in the Church, and as a wannabe leader of this Country, which does include people of color, did Mitt Romney help to end the discriminatory practices or perpetuate them?
Romney may have perfectly great answers, but he must be asked these important questions. Just answering “No” and nobody in the press corps following up is not good enough. Again, he is seeking to be your President and mine.
With the full record of the LDS Church in full view, Romney should explain his view on the blatant race discrimination of his church, and where he stood before and stands now on the issue.
Being a Mormon certainly does not disqualify him from holding high office, but given the record of the LDS Church on race, and his continued high position within that church, he should have to give substantive answers on the issue. That is, of course, if the media holds all candidates to the same standard. I think we know the answer to that.
David McGruder for BBN. David is a Lawyer living in New York City