Friday, 31 August 2012

Mitt Romney: Crypto-Jingoist?


Having heard Mitt Romney's latest Republican nomination speech, I don’t want to sound overblown by making allusions to the fact that Mormons used to be an officially racist cult, nor that at any time before 1978 black people were not permitted to receive the priesthood.  Neither do I want to be crass and say you can take the Mormon out of Utah but you can't always take the racism out of the Mormon, because I do try to see the best in people.

But when I hear words like “When the world needs someone to do really big stuff, you need an American” I cringe at the thought of such a man obtaining any power on the global scale. 

No, when the world needs someone to do really big stuff, it needs someone with intelligence, ingenuity and knowledge of the 'stuff' that needs doing.  The arbitrarily demarcated geographical border isn't relevant to whether the person can do big stuff.  The statement “When the world needs someone to do really big stuff, you need an American,” underlies a feeling that sounds a lot like racism to me.  Substitute the word 'American' with 'White man' and do you think his political career would progress any further?  No, you'd see 'Romney is a Racist' on the front page of every American Newspaper.  There isn't much of a distinction between what Romney said and any of the following:

1) “When the world needs someone to do really big stuff, you need a male"
2) “When the world needs someone to do really big stuff, you need a white person"
3) “When the world needs someone to do really big stuff, you need a young person”
4) “When the world needs someone to do really big stuff, you need a straight person"

There's not really that much difference in the implications related to each of these statements and what Mitt Romney said.  They all have an underlying hint of discrimination. 1 discriminates on the grounds of gender, 2 discriminates on the grounds of skin colour, 3 discriminates on the grounds of age, 4 discriminates on the grounds of sexual orientation - and Mitt Romney's quote discriminates on the grounds of the arbitrarily demarcated geographical border discrimination known as jingoistic nationalism.

Romney would sure like you to believe that what he actually means is that he’s committed to the ‘American ideal’ as adumbrated by the sometimes impressive Condoleezza Rice.  Somehow, though, I think the discriminatory tendencies run beneath the surface - and when they rear their head with claims like ‘To do really big stuff, you need an American’ I suspect that what lies beneath that surface is a jingoist at heart.  

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