My oldest son dreams of playing in the NBA someday. He’s in sixth grade, 5-foot-4, 130 pounds and can shoot lights out. I don’t have the heart to tell him his chances are slim, being Greek and all; Greeks are humpers not jumpers. But what little chance he has of making the pros is greater than his chance of ever being governor of Utah, or a senator, or a congressman.
Too bad for Utah, because Pete is a pretty smart kid. He’s also a sensitive kid who feeds the hungry, donates to the needy and cries at sad movies. At 11, his group of friends is nearly as diverse as my own were at his age. But I had the advantage of growing up in Bingham Canyon, where cultural differences didn’t matter to anyone, Mormon or not. He’s managed to achieve that diversity growing up in the valley, though, where kids like Pete and his friends stick out like chunks of tofu in miso soup.
By the looks of things, Pete is learning traits that are decidedly Democratic. That’s one strike against him. He’s also not a Mormon. That makes for strikes two and three. I hesitate to cast a dark shadow over his future, or that of any other kid who may want to serve politically but carries the yoke of “non-Mormon Democrat.” That’s just the way it is. Only if we move to Price or some other enclave where kids like Pete might become mayor or a state representative, will kids like Pete have a place in shaping Utah’s future—unless they pick up journalism, that is.
It’s even tougher for them because of Mormons like Jim McConkie. A few years ago, McConkie pissed and moaned to the point of splitting the Democratic Party because he and people like him believe only Mormon Democrats can (or should) get elected in Utah. They also believe that the Utah Democratic Party is unfriendly to Mormons. Furthering that mission, McConkie now has the gall to challenge the Utah Legislature to cut funding to the University of Utah, because he thinks certain factions there discriminate against Mormons. What a crock.
Compared to what non-Mormon kids go through here every day, compared to the doors that will be shut to them when they move into the local job and romance markets, and compared to all else they will encounter from cradle to grave, what McConkie deems as discriminatory fully defines misplaced virtues. So, McConkie, Pete had better make the NBA, or you’re going to have to say a few more prayers to cover your blind, bland, self-serving, self-righteous ass.—John Saltas