We’ve heard it a thousand times. A person is called out for promoting views that are exclusionary to a group other than their own, and their first response is, ‘well, I have friends that are, (fill in the blank) but I have standards, and these people don’t meet my standards.’ Such language is code for: Yea, but…
Whenever I hear this phrase, I am convinced that the person is guilty of the charge, be it racism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, Catholiphobia, or an irrational fear of anybody else that is a different color, belief system or religion of the speaker. What the person is really saying is, yes, I have friends that are less than me, but that is why I should be their leader.
This phrase has cropped up a couple times in the last few months. Donald Trump used the phrase when he was perceived as having a racist or homophobic policy, and now an Evangelical Christian used it in reference to Mormons.
Joanna Brooks, a Mormon historian was interviewing Warren Smith who recently wrote an article attacking Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on the basis of his religious beliefs. In this interview Ms. Brooks pressed Smith on his anti-Mormon beliefs. He responded like this:
I have tons of Mormon friends. I spent a lot of time in the West… .But the doctrine and worldview are flawed and dangerous…
I have friends of all different faiths, nationalities, and whatever. What that had taught me is that we are all basically the same. We all have the exact same concerns in our lives, and that those things that make us different are really inconsequential.
We all eat sleep and defecate. We all have loves and losses in life. We struggle with our successes and our failures. We love to laugh and hate to cry. Tornadoes don’t ask your religious belief before they strike. Earthquakes don’t care what you look like, and the rain falls upon us all regardless of where we come from, what we look like, what we believe or don’t believe, and who we make a life with.
If I have a phobia, it is of arrogant elitists like Smith and Trump that think they think their way of living is the only correct way to live, for they seek to use these beliefs to tear down and eventually subjugate others to their ways.