Todd Zenger, a Republican candidate for State House in Utah, recently sent out a mailer saying that a vote for him would honor “our religion” and “our God.”
That’s a very convenient attack by the Mormon politician against his Jewish opponent, Patrice Arent.
Zenger initially defended the wording, but Arent pushed back against the not-so-subtle anti-Semitic attack:
Right now, Jews across the country feel very vulnerable. We should all hope that the lesson of Pittsburgh can be one of respect and acceptance of our differences, much like we have felt as the entire community has wrapped their arms around us over this past week.
The right to worship as we choose is one of our most precious liberties. It is vital that we judge everyone by their merits, regardless of religion or creed.
In a statement issued yesterday, Mr. Zenger denied the plain meaning of the words he chose to put in print and distribute to the voters of House District 36. I hope that in the future, he will refrain from divisive and inaccurate comments and focus on the issues facing the residents of this district.
That’s… far more generous and subdued than I would’ve been. Still, it did the trick. Late last night, Zenger issued a more outright apology (without going into details of why his wording choice was a problem).
I recognize the contributions made to our community by people of all walks of life, religions, faiths or beliefs. I believe in showing kindness, compassion and respect to all people.
I regret any misunderstanding about my mailer. I apologize for any hurt caused by my choice of words. It was never my purpose or intent to be insensitive to any person, race or religion, or to malign any religion or race.
Please accept my apology.
He needed to go even further. The problem wasn’t merely the religious attack against a Jewish opponent. It was the idea that belief in God was on the line in the election. As if people of faith couldn’t be protected by someone who wasn’t religious — or, as he implied, the right religion.
The problem wasn’t his wording. It was the thoughts behind the wording. And that can’t be washed away with an eleventh hour half-hearted “sorry.”
(Image via the United Jewish Federation of Utah. Thanks to Brian for the link)