Anti-Mormonism: Good for Mormons?

Posted by on Jun 6, 2007 in Judaism, Mormon, Online missionary work, Speech | 0 comments

Today the Wall Street Journal has an article entitled Anti-Semitism: Good for the Jews? that has interesting parallels to Mormonism. Mr. Volokh makes the following points:

Bible and Book of MormonModest amounts of anti-Semitic speech and unfair criticism of Israel, it seems to me, can strengthen American Jews’ self-identity as Jews, and thus indirectly both support the preservation of the American Jewish community as a community, and strengthen support for Israel. Feeling embattled as a group tends to strengthen group solidarity.

If anti-Semitic speech became too common, these community-strengthening effects may be decreased (for instance, if American Jews became afraid to be publicly identified as Jews) or might be swamped by harmful effects (again, such as violence, ostracism, discrimination or fear suffered by individual Jews). But my sense is that at modest levels, the existence of this speech in America is a net positive (not an unalloyed positive, but a net positive) both for Israel and for the American Jewish community. And we are talking these days about such modest levels, if one looks at the big picture of Jewish existence in America today.

Naturally, there are limits to this. Certainly no one should foment anti-Semitic speech or conduct, or blow it out of proportion, or tolerate leaving actual anti-Semitic violence unpunished. Increasing group solidarity is not the most important thing.

But if you think that increasing group solidarity is on balance one important thing (either as an end or as a means), the First Amendment rights of American anti-Semites help you rather than hurt you.

If it doesn’t lead to violence or discrimination (think Mitt Romney), is anti-Mormonism a net positive for increasing Mormon solidarity? On the other hand, should we want more introverted solidarity or more outreach?

Google displays a disclaimer when anyone searches for “Jew,” warning them of potentially disturbing results. Since a similar disclaimer for Mormon search results does not appear to be forthcoming, it becomes us as Church members to raise our voices in support of our faith. We shouldn’t expect or want to silence the voices of our critics, but instead be “anxiously engaged in a good cause.”

Which is more effective: writing a stinging reply to PBS for perceived offenses in The Mormons or writing your testimony online where the world can read it?

I’m not even implying that PBS’s The Mormons was particularly anti-Mormon. Skewed and occasionally inaccurate, yes, but we can actually burn bridges to friends if what comes from our mouth is “biting, acrid, or untamed.” Instead of a cursing, from your mouth — your online mouth — can proceed a blessing.

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