We are gearing up for the first presidential election pitting a black incumbent against a challenger. We are also gearing up for the first presidential election in which a Mormon will be a major party nominee.
There’s a lot therein to chew on for Jews as Americans, and as Jews, in terms of what the country now embraces as unremarkable. We were there and did that, to an extent, in 2000, when Joe Lieberman was Al Gore’s V.P. pick, but subsequent milestones also are significant.
There also may be a legitimate question as to how each candidate deals with attitudes toward Jews within his own minority community.
I think that’s what Stephen Richer wanted to get at in this Op-Ed for the Salt Lake City Tribune. Richer, who contributes to RK Research and who co-founded the Gather The Jews hyperlocal DC site, is Jewish and from Salt Lake City.
He begins his article:
The 2012 presidential election is an interesting one for us Jews. Do we pressure the candidate who belongs to a faith that seemingly enjoys baptizing our dead — Mitt Romney? Or do we lobby President Obama to again address his ethnic group, which harbors a dislike for Jews that exceeds any other American group?
But he veers into very weird territory:
And in this "good for the Jews?" comparison, Romney’s religion fares well when assessed next to President Obama’s ethnic group. Mormon guilt can be characterized as a surfeit of enthusiasm for Jewish people, mostly pertaining to deceased Jews.
Dislike and disrespect for Jews among the African-American community, however, is fairly widespread and is aimed at living Jews. A 2002 study by the Anti-Defamation League found that "35 percent of African-Americans … [hold] … strongly anti-Semitic beliefs."
Mormons may inappropriately baptize our dead, but a large percentage of African-Americans hold deeply antagonistic opinions of Jews, and that, to me, is far more problematic.
Richer thus enters a very dark area: Judging a presidential candidate by the behavior of (a minority of!) the folks who share his faith and/or skin color.