Actual bigotry watch: In RE the bigot Dowd!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2011

As close to bigotry as you’ll see in the mainstream press: The hacks and the haters are really putting dead children to use this week.

On Monday evening, Rachel Maddow used the dead children of Birmingham Sunday to help us see—well, to help us see what? That we aren’t supposed to support that new immigration law? (To review Maddow's work, click here.)

This morning, Maureen Dowd plays a similar card. At the top of her New York Times column, Dowd attracts a bit of attention with the following headline:

“Anne Frank, a Mormon?”

Dowd has been a fool for years. Beyond that, she’s long been a visible crackpot. Her presence at the top of American “journalism” is one of the most remarkable facts about modern American culture.

The liberal world has tolerated her status. This tells us all we need to know about the liberal world’s status as an imitation of life.

Dowd has long been a visible nut. But this morning, she goes to a new, dimmer place. It’s hard to define the point of her column, other than to say that it comes very close to being the work of a bigot.

As bigots and near-bigots typically do, Dowd believes that she's providing a brave and valuable service. As she starts, she tells us she’ll be saying the things her colleagues won’t go near:
DOWD (10/19/11): At an appearance at George Washington University here Saturday night, Bill Maher bounded into territory that the news media have been gingerly tiptoeing around.

Magic underwear. Baptizing dead people. Celestial marriages. Private planets. Racism. Polygamy.

“By any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion,” asserted the famously nonbelieving comic who skewered the “fairy tales” of several faiths in his documentary “Religulous.” “It’s a religion founded on the idea of polygamy. They call it The Principle. That sounds like The Prime Directive in ‘Star Trek.’ ”
The press corps’ tiptoeing-around stops here! Dowd will be discussing Mormonism in her daring column! That will include the underwear and—of course, this being Dowd—the polygamy.

That said, the religion abandoned polygamy in 1890, a point Dowd never quite remembers to make. But then, this is the press corps’ most visible crackpot, the Rosetta Stone of modern America’s intellectual breakdown.

Dowd starts out by repeatedly quoting a comic, perhaps forgetting that she herself is supposed to be a journalist. Of course, Dowd isn’t a competent journalist. Consider the evidence she seems to cite in support of an early assertion:
DOWD: Maher was not easy on the religion he was raised in either. He referred to the Roman Catholic Church as “an international child sex ring.”

But atheists, like Catholics and evangelical Christians, seem especially wary of Mormons, dubbed the “ultimate shape-shifters” by Maher.

In a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday, people were asked what single word came to mind for Republican candidates. For Herman Cain it was 9-9-9; for Rick Perry, Texas; and for Mitt Romney, Mormon. In the debate Tuesday night, Romney said it was repugnant that “we should choose people based on their religion.”
According to Dowd, Catholics and evangelicals “seem especially wary of Mormons.” For her apparent evidence, she cites a fact from that recent Post-Pew survey.

According to Dowd, “people” were asked what single word came to mind for different Republican candidates. “For Romney...it was Mormon,” Dowd says.

But alas! If you look at the actual Post-Pew survey, you’ll see the kind of pseudo-evidence on which this visible crackpot feeds. In fact, the Post-Pew survey asked 1007 “people” to give a single word for Romney. Exactly sixty (60) of these people volunteered the word “Mormon.”

That’s right: Slightly fewer than six percent of respondents said the word “Mormon” when asked about Mitt! But in the world of this blowsy old drunk, this is cited as (apparent) evidence that “atheists, like Catholics and evangelical Christians, seem especially wary of Mormons.”

(We say “apparent” because here, as in everything Dowd ever writes, the lady implies a logical link which she doesn’t actually state.)

Your “press corps” has functioned this way for decades, with very few words of complaint from the career liberal world. A modern nation simply can’t function with pseudos like this in charge. This includes pseudos like Dowd herself—and pseudos like her enabler colleagues, who aren’t a whole lot smarter or saner than this big drunk is herself.

As Dowd continues, she bravely “bounds into territory that the news media have been gingerly tiptoeing around.” Soon, she’s making use of Anne Frank. At great length, she discusses a peculiar Mormon practice which was abandoned in 1995—without offering any evidence about Romney’s view of the former practice.

And of course, there is more—so much more. First example:

Dowd cherry-picks an incident from Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s recent profile of Romney’s time as a Mormon leader—a profile which is largely favorable, until Dowd starts picking her fruit.

In this instance, Dowd doesn’t just cherry-pick the single incident she wants to discuss. She also offers a cherry-picked version of Stolberg’s account of the incident! But with modern practitioners like Dowd, if it weren’t for cherry-picked accounts, there would be no accounts at all. Everything you read from Dowd is likely to be pure garbage.

What’s the point of Dowd’s venture into the land around which her colleagues have tiptoed? She never quite states the point of her mission, but it’s fairly clear that this is an assault on Mormons in general—and on Candidate Romney in particular. In the last large chunk of her column, she describes various aspects of the Mormon faith, making no attempt to explain the relevance to Romney’s candidacy. She discusses an aspect of “Mormon lore,” failing to clarify whether the belief in question is, or isn’t, a part of the faith. She discusses what Mormons think about Jesus; she discusses what Mormons think about heaven. And of course, she returns to the “magic underwear,” devoting several paragraphs to that requisite topic.

Lying face-down on Jack’s favorite shag, she closes her daring column with this defiant statement:

“Republicans are the ones who have made faith part of the presidential test. Now we’ll see if Mitt can pass it.”

Although nothing is ever clear in Dowd’s work, this may be a reference to pastor Robert Jeffress, a Perry-supporter whom Dowd had cited earlier in her column. Inside Dowd’s disordered mind, the “logic” may proceed like this: Republicans like Jeffress have made religious faith part of the test. So somehow, that means that journalists should proceed to push the matter further.

Or something. Dowd rarely makes her “thinking” clear—and her “editors” always accept this.

Dowd’s column today is a troubling document. Let’s understand why that’s so. Then, let’s advance the Maddow Challenge.

Dowd’s column comes very close to being an act of pure bigotry. She keeps savaging Romney's religion, without making any attempt to explain the relevance to his candidacy. When Jeffress said that he would prefer an evangelical Christian candidate to a Mormon, he repeatedly praised Romney as a “good, moral person;” he said he would vote for Romney in a race against Obama. “I believe Mormons are good people,” he further said. Jeffress never quite explained why he would prefer a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian, but that was largely because interviewers like Chris Matthews were too dumb to ask.

Dowd offers no such niceties. She has nothing good to say for Romney, nothing good to say about Mormons or about Mormonism. She makes no attempt to explain the relevance of her attacks on Romney’s religion. Her column comes about as close to textbook bigotry as work ever does in the mainstream press. It’s rather plain that she doesn’t like Mormons. She just doesn’t like Romney’s kind.

This raises a question about Maddow.

Jeffress was quite polite in what he said about Romney. Repeatedly, he praised Romney’s character. He said he would vote for Romney in a general election.

But so what? On her eponymous cable program, Maddow confidently denounced Jeffress’ conduct as “bigotry.” This raises the Maddow Challenge:

Will Maddow say the same thing about Maureen Dowd tonight?

Almost surely, she will not. You see, Jeffress belongs to the other tribe; he’s a southern white conservative. Maddow’s ministry is all about teaching you to dislike such people. So it was when she used the dead children on her program this past Monday night.

By way of contrast, Dowd is a major player inside the upper-end “press corps,” the careerist bubble within which Maddow pockets $2 million per year. Rather relentlessly, Maddow kisses the keisters of such ranking players.

Dowd’s column really does approach bigotry. Tune in tonight to see if Maddow lets a deranged colleague slide. You’ll learn about the ways of the tribe—and about the death of your nation’s intellectual culture.

Maureen Dowd is one of the world’s most disordered people. But she sits at the top of your nation’s “press corps!” In the grip of this disorder, a modern nation simply can’t expect to survive.

About that Post/Pew “one-word” question: In fairness to Dowd, many players have stumbled over the useless question Pew asks as part of its candidate surveys.

Pew asks respondents to state the first word that comes into their head when a candidate’s name is mentioned. Then, Pew posts a chart of the responses. People routinely think the chart is showing percentages, even though Pew always includes a note saying that it doesn’t.

What’s wrong with this survey question? Few respondents say the same words about particular candidates. For that reason, this survey question rarely produces useful data—and it constantly produces confusion. Even a very smart person like Kevin Drum misunderstood the nature of this question in 2008. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/2/08.

When it comes to Pew's "one-word" question, the confusion and foolishness never end. For a ridiculous assessment of the new “one-word” results, just click here. Regarding Cain, 25 respondents said the word “business;” 24 respondents said “9-9-9.” And yes, that was 25 respondents out of more than a thousand!

To see an NPR analyst try to figure out what that means, go ahead—click that link.

Dowd of course was just pimping her junk when she cited the one-word reaction to Romney—when she gave readers the false impression that everybody shouted out “Mormon!” when they were asked about Mitt.

Dowd’s work doesn’t run on data. Dowd’s work runs on mental disorder—has done for many long years.

21 comments:

  1. What a great column, Bob! Liberals take pride in being open-minded. They fight to see that people of any color, creed, or sexual orientation are treated equally. So, how can they then dump on Mormons?

    It seems like cognitive dissonance. However, in a way, it's consistent and rational. IMHO liberals use Mormonism only as a weapon to attack the other side. AFAIK no liberal has ever eomplained about (Democratic) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid being a Mormon. If Reid ran for President, I'm confident that Dowd wouldn't be attacking his religion.

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  2. You're really quite an unpleasant person, David. Am I really going to be subjected to your juvenile button pushing after every Howler post?

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  3. Bob,

    I think you are just a tad too hard on Dowd today, although she often deserves it. Picking that response "Mormon" to highlight is a minor transgression.

    As for her statement "Republicans are the ones who have made faith part of the presidential test. Now we’ll see if Mitt can pass it.” This is true, and Republicans may just pay a price for it in much the same way that their fixation on "family values" appears to have chased Mitch Daniels out of the running.

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  4. Another take on Jeffers:

    http://blog.au.org/2011/10/19/amen-to-pastor-jeffress-why-the-dallas-bigot-is-doing-us-all-a-service/

    Bob is right about Dowd, what a stinker of a column. However, is it necessary to call her a drunk? What is the evidence for that? Also, why does Bob think Dowd is mentally ill? Again, evidence? I think it is much more likely that Dowd is incompetent and a hack. You can argue that Bob is using hyperbole, but then again, one could make the same claim about a lot of the stuff that Dowd rights.

    David in Cal, be sure to stick around. I think you are an interesting feller.

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  5. Oops, sorry about misspelling Jeffress' name, mea culpa.

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  6. Wow. Bob packed a lot into this post.

    Just to focus on Rachel Maddow . . . I think the criticism of her here is off base.

    There is a good argument to be made that U.S. treatment of its immigrants is a "civil rights" issue, and that those policies may be racist, or create violence, etc. In fact, there has been increasing violence in Mexico, Columbia, El Salvador, and in this country, and many other Central American countries--which both 'sides' in this political debate will acknowledge and utilize as a rationale for their respective positions.

    The pro immigration side claims the violence is a result of harsh immigration policies (as in El Salvado http://ncronline.org/news/justice/migrants-illegals-or-gods-ambassadors) and U.S. foreign policy (like spending billions of dollars to militarize Mexico and Columbia) and it's drug prohibition policies, not to mention corrupt U.S. agencies like the D.E.A. running operations like 'Fast and Furious.' Pro immigration people can also point to the violence committed against undocumented people in the U.S. who are often targeted because they are reluctant to report crime. They can also point to the violence and harsh conditions employers often subject undocumented people to. They can also point to the border violence committed by harsh police methods or even vigilantes who act on anti immigrant or racist beliefs.

    The anti immigration people focus on the violence committed by undocumented immigrants or by other perceived violence associated with immigration. . . I'm kind of at a loss thinking of other violence associate with immigration but I guess I'm biased and am probably not presenting this side very well . . .

    But in any case, the violence is real. I don't like Maddow for pretty much the reason you allege here, that she is a partisan shill, but in this case, Maddow is not guilty. Harsh immigration policies create violence. Maybe not the level of fire bombing churches--in the U.S., as of now. But this is happening in these countries where the immigrants are coming from, like Mexico and Columbia, etc., so the analogy is not that far off. And Maddow should have made that link to the real violence more explicit--because it's real and should not be minimized. If somebody 'gains' from harsh immigration policies, some other people 'lose', whether it be from violence or a loss of their 'rights.'

    And it's important to link of all these laws together and look at them as part of one overriding policy. You can't just look at one law in Alabama and say, "see, there were no firebombs thrown at churches there, it's hyperbole to claim there is violence associated with this law and stop talking about Arizona, and prohibition and U.S. foreign policy past and present. . . ." No. It's all related and a very valid and important observation to realize the violence that our policies create. It's too bad Maddow didn't explicitly mention the violence that is occurring in El Salvador, for instance, and instead only focused on domestic U.S. impacts. She's not the one to be making this argument but it's a valid argument.

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  7. In response to Anonymous @ 11:38,

    I often disagree with David in Cal, but I find him to be a reasonable, thoughtful person and not at all "unpleasant."

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  8. Yeah, I don't think people really get that religion isn't like science. It isn't a set of beliefs that one carefully chooses on the basis of their being proved or reasonable.

    Religion serves lots of functions, none of them related to a factual understanding of the world (no matter what certain fundamentalists say). As one Catholic priest once told me, Christianity is as much about Christ as the Lions Club is about lions.

    If religion is about introspection, then let people choose their own way of improving themselves. If religion is a social club, then we should be arguing about what people should be doing with their religion, not making fun of them for having one. If religion is about cultural stability, then attacking the substance of a religion is a losing argument.

    I'm gay and followed the 2008 elections closely. The LDS church hurt a lot of gay people in California by bankrolling Prop 8. Still, making fun of the religion itself was going to far. It's like making fun of white people in order to fight anti-black racism... it only makes people defensive.

    @David: Maureen Dowd isn't a liberal; she has no discernible political ideology. Maher is a libertarian who happens to be comfortable among liberals.

    There are liberals who are racist, etc., but Dowd and Maher being anti-Mormon doesn't prove that. I'm not a liberal either but it's fair to point out that Dowd and Maher don't represent liberals.

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  9. I rarely bother reading MoDo because I agree that she's unhinged, for most of the reasons Bob cites. I find her better off ignored. Though I'll just say this: Her feelings about Mormons is almost completely irrelevant to Mitt Romney's chances of winning the GOP nomination. He has far more to fear from Jeffres, regardless of how polite that chap is.

    MoDo doesn't have much of a following outside of the Beltway, NY...the usual places. Bob seems more wrapped up in the significance of her every utterance than 99.999999% of humanity. And I doubt many people know or care about her lunatic ravings in the flyover states.

    The bigotry Mitt needs to worry about is that expressed --- or not expressed openly --- by nice, polite people who believe that Mormonism is a cult. Even if they express the sentiment politely.

    I guarantee you, Mitt Romney is not laying awake nights fretting what MoDo writes. But the Jeffreses of the world...that's another story.

    P.S. When did Ms. Dowd become a spokesperson for the "liberal world"? She sure as hell doesn't speak for me and never has. I don't think she makes any claim to be such. Can't we just write her off as a Looney Tune and evaluate, praise, criticize *actual* liberals?

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  10. I'm not sure that Bob is worried about the "significance" of what MoDo writes, but the utter insignificance of it, at a very time when we most need serious journalism out of our most serious newspaper.

    When the NY Times wastes this much ink and paper to uninform us, how long can we survive as a democracy?

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  11. A bit overwrought, Anon. The NYT is a great newspaper that does serious journalism every day. It serves democracy just fine.

    MoDo is comic relief. I don't find her funny, but many do. Why Bob devotes to many keystrokes to an "amusing" gossip columnist is beyond me. Yes, yes, she contributed to Gore's demise, but Gore himself, Clinton triangulation, and Gore's lawyers in Florida, not to mention Ralph's 97,000 votes in the Sunshine State, didn't help either.

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  12. Thanks for the kind words, hardindr and Anonymous. This post has a personal meaning to me, because this subject came up in conversation with my wife and my best friend. They're both quite liberal. Despite our California location, both of them read the New York Times. Neither is remotely anything like conservative Christian. Yet, they both stated that a Mormon should not be President.

    One conclusion from of this anecdote is that, based on a sample of 2, lots of Times readers probably liked MoDo's column.

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  13. She's not an "amusing gossip columnist" Geoff. She is on the OP-ED page, for criminy sakes, which should be the MOST serious page in the paper!

    And she is Exhibit A in the dumbing down of both the NYT and political discourse in general. Good grief, have we crossed the line into entertainment posing as serious news so far that even the NY Times Op-Ed page must amuse us?

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  14. Say whatever you want about these columnists, and I don't like all of them, but they are all "serious": Krugman, Brooks, Douthat, Nocera, Kristof, Keller, Friedman. Unless I am forgetting someone, that makes 7 serious columnists.

    Collins opts for the humorous, and I'm not crazy about her, but she's not deranged.

    Dowd is "humorous" and nuts.

    That makes 7 serious columnists, 1 goofy, 1 nutty gossip columnist.

    That the 2 less serious ones are women is an item for another discussion.

    But I'd hardly says the NYT op-ed page is severely dumbed down. Nor is its coverage of the news. Sure, there are exceptions. They print this big fat paper EVERY DAY. There will be exceptions.

    You guys are getting way, way too overheated about "comic relief."

    Of course, my personal lineup for NYT op-ed writers would be completely different. But I cannot honestly say that a goofy columnist or two in an otherwise serious paper is a threat to our democratic discourse.

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  15. Nitpick alert.

    According to the linked report, 42 people said '9-9-9'. Bob has the digits transposed to 24, which makes that response second after 'business' at 25. Am I the only one who got puzzled and checked?

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  16. On further reading, I see I guessed wrong about he source of the confusion. The number 42 is for 'all respondents', while 24 is for 'Republican and Republican-leaning respondents'. 'Business' comes in at 30 and 25, respectively.

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  17. That leads to another nitpick. Bob says 25 out of 'more than a thousand', said 'business' for Cain. It's 30 out of the full sample of 1007. The Pew report doesn't say how many were included in the Republicans and leaners sub-sample.

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  18. Bob,

    Someone just called Maureen Dowd a "blowsy old drunk." I hope you'll join me in condemning such sexism, ageism and hatred of the disabled!

    And speaking of tribalism, Maddow not only failed to slap Dowd sober, she actually appeared on Bill Maher's show AFTER Maher made the Mormon comments Dowd stole for her column.
    I hope your membership in the stand-up comic tribe doesn't prevent you from joining me in condemning Maher's bigoted gags.

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  19. I only object to picking on Mormons is when people do so from the vantage point of another religion that deserves picking on just as much. That's why Maher gets a point or two for also going after Roman Catholicism. Unfortunately, he's not the most reliable source on religion himself. He's what's called an entertainer, though I've never found him particularly entertaining.

    For me the acid test is whether someone is ready to make fun of Christianity in general,and in particular to see Jesus' feet of clay. A good many atheists will go after Paul, and quote the Old Testament liberally to show how batshit crazy and evil it is, and some might even mention the Revelation. But then they quote Gandhi's "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians." Some of them even manage to spell Gandhi's name right!

    Of course Mormonism is ridiculous; so is mainstream Christianity. It's my understanding, by the way, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints styles itself a Christian church, even if many other Christians disagree. (Many people also think that Catholics aren't Christians either.) So I was a bit taken aback by Bob's apparent characterization of Romney as a "competent non-Christian." I make no judgment about Romney's competence, but as far as I know, he's a Christian, even if a somewhat heterodox one. By New Testament standards, though, all modern Christians are heterodox.

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