Monday, August 6, 2012

Romney on Sikh temple shootings

Per Mediaite's report, here's the statement from Mitt Romney regarding the shootings at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin:
“Ann and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims of today’s shooting in Wisconsin. This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship. Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing in the difficult days ahead.”
A pretty standard statement of condolence — but did you notice the caveat?

"This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship."

Romney is not shy about promoting his faithfulness, so I will not be shy about calling out his statement for its focus on the "house of worship".

One could, if unkindly disposed, argue that Romney's statement implicitly excuses similar attacks that occur in places other than a "house of worship".

I doubt that's what Romney meant. However, the fact that the statement is open to that willful misinterpretation is telling. The statement speaks eloquently of Romney's unconscious bias in favor of religious sensibilities. His thoughts are first and foremost about the sanctity and primacy of religions and religious institutions.

This focus raises a question for those of us who don't believe in or espouse a religion: where do we and our priorities rank in Romney's worldview?

Certainly my concern is that we would be second- (or even more likely, third- or fourth-) class citizens under a Romney administration. And I would be willing to bet real money that my concerns do not matter a whit to Mitt. He is betting (metaphorically speaking, of course, gambling being proscribed by Mormonism) that I and my ilk won't matter in the election, and that we would be exceedingly unlikely to vote for him in any case.

He's probably right on both counts, certainly for this election. For the future, though, I'd love for my fellow non-religionists to stand up and be counted at the ballot box. I'd really like to give people like Romney (and the many high-profile, aggressively theocratic religious leaders out there) pause.

Oh, and Mitt?

We all — you, I, everyone — would be saddened and shocked if these murders had taken place at a shopping mall, or a state fair, or a movie theater. That the shootings happened at a house of worship is beside the point.

This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy, period.

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