Huckabee's Blood Libel?

By Ross Douthat

George Will needs to simmer down:

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee's role in the '70s Show involves blending Jimmy Carter's ostentatious piety with Nixon's knack for oblique nastiness. "Despicable" and "appalling" evidence of a "gutter campaign" -- that is how The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., characterized this from Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile of Huckabee: "'Don't Mormons,' he asked in an innocent voice, 'believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?'"

Imagine someone asking "in an innocent voice" this: "Don't Jews use the blood of gentile children to make matzoth for Passover?" Such a smarmy injection of the "blood libel," an ancient canard of anti-Semitism, into civic discourse would indelibly brand the injector as a bigot with contempt for the public's ability to decode bigotry.



I, too, think the Jesus-Lucifer dig was inappropriate (for reasons that I get into a forthcoming episode of The Table - try to contain your excitement!). But it's the equivalent of the blood libel? Seriously? An abstruse theological point that makes Mormonism seem weird and possibly creepy is the equivalent of saying that Jews like to drink your kids' blood? Moreover, what Huckabee said isn't even technically a libel: The Jews don't actually use the blood of gentile children to make Passover matzoh, so far as I know, whereas Mormons do, in fact, believe that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers - not necessarily in the sense that most people understand the term, but in a sense that goes to the heart of the LDS Church's theological differences with orthodox Christianity. Raising the point in the way Huckabee did may have been disingenuous and deliberately sleazy (though an interview with the Times Magazine seems like an odd venue to embark on a subtle anti-Mormon smear campaign pitched to Iowan evangelicals). But The Protocols of the Elders of Deseret it wasn't.

Update: The "so far as I know" was a (possibly misguided) attempt at sarcasm. To clarify: The Jews don't actually use the blood of Christian children at Passover, full stop, no caveat appended.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2007/12/huckabees-blood-libel/55154/