Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Got the Joneses

Conservative Catholic law professor Stephen Bainbridge castigates Mitt Romney for accepting the endorsements of two major figures affiliated with Bob Jones University: Chancellor Dr. Bob Jones III, and Robert R. Taylor, dean of the university's college of arts and sciences. BJU has a notorious history of religious and racial bigotry, long refusing to admit Black students (and then for awhile restricting admission solely to married Blacks), then fighting to keep up a prohibition on interracial dating. Meanwhile, BJU leaders have called both Catholicism and Mormonism "cults." So, Bainbridge says, while "[t]urning down these endorsements would have been tough" given their pull in the South Carolina GOP, "All in all, I'd have a lot more respect for Romney if he had told the folks from Bob Jones where to shove their endorsements."

Of course, it speaks volumes that an extremist entity such as this could wield so much influence in a major primary. And Romney's affiliation with this group is not something that should be forgotten. As Andrew Sullivan writes:
I had a conniption about Bush's catering to BJU bigotry in 2000 and then swiftly forgot about it. I didn't see it as the harbinger that it was: of a GOP rooted in religious prejudice, racial fears, and sexual panic. I've learned my lesson.

Shouldn't someone press Romney on this? Contrast Romney's pandering to Fred Thompson's campaign, which dismissed the radical anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church (which tried to argue that Thompson "saw eye to eye" with them on the issue) "a radical fringe group, looking to draw attention to themselves." Westboro is probably a bit further out of the mainstream than is BJU -- but only by a step or two.

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