Thursday, June 4, 2009

Is Mitt Romney disqualified from the presidency?

Yes! In the same way that Hussein Obama (a Muslim, a closet-Muslim, a non-Muslim with sympathies for, and intimate ties with, Islamism; it matters not generally, but in this instance it matters particularly.) is disqualified.

We had this discussion way back when. M. Mason and I tended to agree on the substance of Romney's faith, and the implications thereof. And now Mr. Mason invokes the Christian Research Institute. Yet another of our common interests. Hmm.

5 comments:

chiu_chunling said...

Actually, Romney, as a Mormon, has a unique perspective that probably blinds him to the way most other people are going to view religious traditions. It is obvious that Jihadism is firmly set in the Islamic religious tradition, the very term originates with Islam's founding and is rarely invoked outside of the Islamic tradition.

It is also clear that jihad, the concept of waging a warfare sanctified by its objective rather than its methods, is an integral part of the Islamic tradition, Islam without jihad would be cheesecake without cheese. The laws and sanctions which permit and encourage jihad, whether consisting of beheading Jews and Christians or practicing personal asceticism, are an essential ingredient that makes Islam peculiarly Muslim in its character.

This is perfectly obvious to anyone who lives in or around any religious tradition, and it probably should be obvious to Romney, but while Mormons do have traditions, they explicitly and consistently distinguish tradition from their religion. And this may be what has manifested itself in this case.

The most concrete example would be relationship between Mormons and "Fundamentalist" Mormon schismatics, usually polygamist (though one of the oldest such schisms was an anti-polygamist group, which has changed names a number of times and now calls itself by some fairly ordinary sounding name). In ordinary religious traditions, however much the "mainstream" religious community had discarded distinctive practices and teachings (such as polygamous marriages), one would expect a recognition of the essential kinship with a group which sincerely practiced some such archaism.

This is simply not the case with Mormons and their schisms, whether based on polygamy or the bloodline of Joseph Smith (as the aforementioned anti-polygamist group originally was). It may be hard to believe, particularly for a religion which spends so much time celebrating its "pioneer heritage" and produces current teaching materials based on the exact words and doctrinal expressions of every previous President of the church (with particular emphasis on the earliest leaders). It is nonetheless true.

It is in some ways a remarkable accomplishment, and it definitely shows concerted effort on the part of the leadership of the Mormon church. Nor is this effort a recent thing (though as with most aspects of Mormonism the practice has gotten more polished over time). Mormonism has, as an essential aspect of "the Restoration", the character of delineating between traditions, however valuable, and religion. The main branch of the church has never lost this very peculiar idea, and Romney is probably very immersed in this mainstream of his religion.

To Romney, trying to imagine the Muslim world, it simply doesn't make sense that most ordinary Muslims would look at Jihadists with a sympathy tinged by shared tradition, no matter how much these 'moderates' might consider such an expression of jihad to be inappropriate to modern times. I have to admit that this vision doesn't make much sense to me simply because I realize that, for most ordinary Muslims in the world today, such barbaric actions are current expressions of their religion, not archaisms at all.

chiu_chunling said...

But taking the media inspired delusion that most Muslims are 'moderates' at face value, Romney encounters a different problem entirely. He imagines the theoretical 'moderate' who loves Islam and its rich history by drawing a parallel to the way he probably feels about his own religion's heritage. Then he picks a group which improperly practices a no longer current teaching of his own religion (probably polygamy, but there are a couple of other possible choices). He makes an analogy between his feelings about that group and how moderate Muslims must feel about Jihadists.

And comes up with a statement which shocks even liberals with its disconnection from reality.

As a Mormon, Romney has been raised, from the time he was a little child, to regard traditions as being enjoyable commemorations which definitely have no deep religious significance. As a young man participating in Mormon services, he was constantly warned about the distinction between things that were done a certain way because that's how they had always been done and ordinances which were done a certain way because God commanded it (and could therefore legitimately command it be done backwards if He wanted).

And yet, it probably has never occurred to him that almost no other religions, and certainly no major ones, make this kind of distinction between the religion itself and the traditions surrounding the practice of the religion. He has probably noticed (because this is occasionally mentioned by Mormon leaders), that for some religious traditions there isn't any distinction between the tradition and the religion. To his mind, this is probably associated with the term "dead religion" and "going through the motions". He doesn't imagine, might honestly not be able to imagine (but probably should try), that there are people who devoutly carry on a religion that is indistinguishable from its tradition.

Why Mormons are like this, and how they can carry on a religion without any reliance on tradition while encouraging good traditions as being worthy activities, are probably somewhat mysterious to most people. A discussion of this is probably beyond the scope of this incident. But when you try to understand a native Mormon (and Romney reveals himself as such more and more every time I see him, though 'native' and 'faithful' are also fundamentally distinct concepts for Mormons), it helps to understand the real fundamental differences between Mormonism and most other religions (the usually supposed differences between Mormons and "real" Christians are almost all fictional, and generally pretty superficial too).

Anyway, I'll sum up by saying that this blithe idiocy was the natural result of Romney (a native Mormon) trying to believe the progressivist hogwash about 'moderate' Muslims. It isn't exactly a shining example of reason and lucidity. If you look at how other native Mormons (Orson Scott Card for example) view the relationship between Jihadists and Islam, the contrast does Romney no great favor.

The usual (thinking, at least) Mormon perspective on Muslims and Jihadists is that any supposed Muslim who doesn't view Jihadism with the same special horror with which Mormons view "Fundamentalist Mormons" (plus the normal horror for their heinous deeds) can't be a faithful Muslim. Mormons believe that Muslims should be angrier than anyone else with Jihadists, because Jihadism is a mockery of Islam (and because Jihadists mostly murder ordinary Muslims, but that comes in second place).

chiu_chunling said...

If you take away the assumption that there is such a thing a 'moderate' Islam, and thus turn a few instances of "is" with "should be", you can get a better illustration. If Romney had said something like this, I'd almost be impressed with him.

I didn't refer to Islam at all, or to any other religion for that matter. I spoke about three major threats America faces on a long term basis. Jihadism is one of them, and that should not be Islam. If you want my views on Islam, it's quite straightforward. Islam is one of the world's great religions and the great majority of people in Islam should want peace for themselves and peace with their maker. They should want to raise families and have a bright future.

There is, however, a movement in the world known as jihadism. They call themselves jihadists and I use the same term. And this jihadist movement is intent on causing the collapse of moderate Muslim states and the assassination of moderate Muslim leaders. It is also intent on causing collapse of other nations in the world. It should by no means be a branch of Islam. It should instead be an entirely different entity. In no way do I suggest it should be a part of Islam.

I suspect Romney really believes that there is such a thing as 'moderate' Islam. I believe that a modern, tolerant Islam is possible, but it will take a lot of serious work by courageous Muslims to bring it into existence. Pretending that it already exists won't really help that happen (leaving aside the issue of whether it's really such a worthwhile thing anyway--a moderate form of Islam would be a pretty half-assed religion, in my opinion--even if the only alternative is wiping out a quarter of the world's population [I don't buy the idea that forced conversion will solve the underlying problem]).

It might be comforting to believe in fairies and unicorns too, but I'm not going to vote for someone who does if I can help it.

Terry Morris said...

Well, I thought his so-called "faith speech" was nothing more than a political stunt. But I imagine you're right, he probably has a Mormon-centric view of Islam. That isn't unusual. Many Westerners have a Western-centric view of Muslims and Islam (click on my webpage Lawrence Auster on Islam in the left sidebar of the blog).

But I've always questioned how "conservative" a former governor of leftist Massachusetts could possibly be in any case. Romney's "Republicanism" notwithstanding.

chiu_chunling said...

His view of Islam isn't really Mormoncentric, as the vast majority of Mormons don't believe that Islam is really about peace and obedience to God.

But his upbringing in Mormonism does affect his ability to understand the idea of a religious tradition, the appeal of those who act out the archaic forms of an earlier time. For reasons which don't particularly touch the central question here, religion and tradition are entirely distinct concepts for Mormons generally and for life-long members particularly.

It's particularly funny when cultural Mormons are dealing with a new convert from rich religious tradition. Former Muslims can beat this by pleading fear of retribution, but Jews and Catholics have no excuse. Tee hee. But usually (possibly by simple demographics rather than any conscious plan) most converts are likely to end up in congregations where their former religious tradition is not unique enough to involve any such antics.

Former Muslims are an exception, and either Romney has never encountered any or he is too obtuse to understand what the peculiar treatment of former Muslims in Mormon communities indicates about the true nature of Islam (at least in the eyes of whoever is in charge of making such policies). Of course, the policies themselves are something of a secret, and the treatment could be described as 'discrete'. The general idea is, after all, to make it fairly difficult to pick out former Muslims from a Mormon congregation. So it's very possible that Romney has met any number of former Muslims without realizing it. Still not a testament to his acumen, but not necessarily a sign of real stupidity.

As for his having been governor of Massachusetts, I have to admit sharing that qualm.

P.S. this post brought to you courtesy of 'biden'.