Dec 11, 2011

1928 Catholicism = 2011 Mormonism? Or is it Islam?

Historian Robert Slayton has a column in the Times today about the anti-Catholic hysteria that Al Smith provoked when he ran for president in 1928 after four terms as NY governor. This is one of those pieces of history that, in my pessimistic moments, makes me think that we (as a society) haven't actually learned much from the past. It seems pretty clear to us now that it was, indeed, hysteria that caused people to think that, for instance, “if you vote for Al Smith you’re voting against Christ and you’ll all be damned,” or that Smith's election would mean that “you will not be allowed to have or read a Bible.” Shouldn't it be totally obvious to all Americans, then, that the election of a Muslim congressman would not result in sharia law (whatever the right wing means by that) usurping the U.S. Constitution?

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