Mitt Romney walks back apparently mistaken remarks about

the London Olympics, outside of No. 10 Downing Street, July

28. But as Eric Hanson explains, his 'gaffes' may have been

no such thing.



As a Former Mormon Missionary, Romney's European Gaffes Were Well Calculated (Die Zeit, Germany)


"Since Romney served as a Mormon missionary on the streets of Paris in May 1968, in the middle of the student unrest and Vietnam protests, his first experience with Europeans was most likely his most formative. ... During the mission, one gets to know Europeans in a way that they would rather not see themselves. ... If Romney does win the election in November, there will finally be a man in the White House who knows the Europeans."


By Eric T. Hansen*



Translated By Stephanie Martin


July 31, 2012


Germany - Die Zeit - Original Article (German)

Mitt Romney and Mormonism: Did his apparrent gaffes in Europe stem from the years he spenyt as a Mormon missionary in France?


BBC DOCUMENTARY VIDEO: BBC interview with Mormon Church Elder Jeffery Holland about the church's practices and Mitt Romney's faith and career, Sept., 2008, 00:09:58RealVideo

By last week at the very latest, it should have been clear to everyone that Mitt Romney is about as well-suited to foreign policy as Sarah Palin. He had barely arrived in London when he committed his first major gaffe: He criticized the many glitches at the 2012 Olympic Games and pointed out that back when he was in charge of organizing the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, things weren't handled in such slipshod fashion.


Immediately, all hell broke loose: Even conservative commentators in America complained that Romney had insulted our most important European allies. This was an international affront that was embarrassing … so embarrassing.


I'm not so sure it was a mistake. On the contrary.


An Ambivalent Relationship With Europe


When Barack Obama was in Berlin four years ago and was celebrated like a rock star, his enemies at home said he was sucking up to the Europeans. Of course, Obama's core supporters are well-educated leftists for whom Europe is a cultural role model. In contrast, Romney's supporters see Europe as decadent and reactionary. That is why the Republican is styling himself as someone who doesn't understand and couldn't give a damn about Europe.


His offensive remark about Palestinians not having a culture suited to economic success also falls under the rubric of his campaign: Here, Romney is trying to flatter Jewish voters in the United States. In addition, he is a Mormon, and Mormons always tend to be strongly pro-Israel, since they still consider the Jews to be God's chosen people.


My friends in Germany are surprised to learn that most Americans have a ambivalent relationship toward Europe. Just as Europeans always complain about a creeping Americanization, we Americans guard against creeping Europeanization.



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On one hand, we haven't failed to notice that the home of feudalism every now and then falls back into a state of totalitarianism, is unable to independently resolve crises, from World War II to the euro crisis, and on top of everything, doesn't even have decent television programming.


On the other hand: Paris! Rome! Berlin!


Especially Mitt Romney, the multimillionaire, would be quite familiar with the unique bistros in the ports of Saint Tropez, Cannes, and Monte Carlo. But since Romney served as a Mormon missionary in France in the 1960s, his first experience with Europeans was most likely his most formative.


In the Mormon Church, young people at the age of 19 are asked whether they would like to travel to a foreign country for two years,  voluntarily and at their own expense, in order, to proselytize to the people there. During this period they have no leisure time, limited contact with family and friends, and no significant contact with members of the opposite sex. An astonishingly large number of young men and women nonetheless say yes.


I, too, agreed to go at the time (I didn't leave the Church until many years later) and was sent to Germany. I can say from personal experience: During the mission, one gets to know Europeans in a way that they would rather not see themselves.


In Germany, while it is true that people are tolerant of all belief systems, there is one exception: Any church not founded by [Saint] Peter or Martin Luther is considered a sect. We know this because the churches founded by Peter and Martin Luther say so.


Germans Know a Lot of Bad Things About America


The daily life of a missionary looks like this: Five days a week, from dawn to dusk, you go from door to door. You knock and the door opens. You say, "We're from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints and would like ..." The door slams. And on to the next house. And that for two years. The Mormons say, "It builds character," and it's true.
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From time to time someone does invite you in. It is surprising how many bad things the average German knows about America, and how happy they are to tell Americans about them. During a mission, you get to know Europeans who for hours will reel off our country's sins and still have enough energy to assure you they are tolerant people and that we Americans really should take a page out of their book.


The Telegraph, U.K.: Romney Confuses 'Sikh' with 'Sheikh'

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: Romney's Blunders Give Poland a Boost!

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia: Americans Compete in the 'Israeli Olympics'  

The Daily Star, Lebanon: 'Romney the Dunce'

Jerusalem Post, Israel: What Romney Should Have Learned in Israel  

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: Walesa on Romney: 'We are Alike'

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: Romney's Biggest Weakness Exposed on His Sojourn to Poland

Trouw, The Netherlands: Mormons Perform ‘After-Death’ Baptisms on Dutch Royals

Gazeta, Russia: ‘Hysteria’ over Romney’s ‘Naked Flattery’ of Russian Influence

Le Figaro, France: Same-Sex Marriage Controversy Uncomfortable for Romney

Le Monde, France: The Misery of the 'Electoral Circus'

News, Switzerland: Cows, Pigs, Women and American Conservatives

Le Figaro, France: Lunatic Fringe Runs Romney’s Nomination Campaign

News, Switzerland: Study Reveals that Facts Don't Matter to U.S. Conservatives
San-in Chuo Shimpo, Japan: World Hopes Republican Spat Improves Policies
Le Figaro, France: America’s ‘Right’ Makes the French Right Seem ‘Left’
News, Switzerland: Rick ‘Ahmadinejad’ Santorum
Hindustan Times, India: Santorum: 'Prince of Sanctimony'
Jeune Afrique, Senegal: 'Oddball Extremist' Santorum Could Make Obama's Day
NRC Handelsblad, The Netherlands: Santorum Wrong on Euthanasia in Netherlands
Jornal De Negotios, Portugal: Taxes: Warren Buffett, His Secretary, and the Grocer
Gazeta, Russia: America's Young People Turn Against 'Patriotic Bravado'
Le Figaro, France: Gingrich Success Reflects Republican 'Personality Disorder'
Tokushima Shimbun, Japan: State of Union Sends 'Wrong Message' to Pyongyang
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: America: 'Land of Inequality'
Liberation, France: It is 'Yes We Can' in America Once More
Liberation, France: Finally, Obama Chooses Combat Over Conciliation
FAZ, Germany: U.S. Republican 'Civil War' Proving Hopelessly Divisive
Der Tagesspiegel, Germany: The Republicans: Right Where Obama Wants Them
Nachrichten, Austria: Newt: America's 'Hypocritical Moralizing Apostle'
Diario de Cuyo, Argentina: Chavez and Obama: A Common Electoral Challenge
China Daily, China: Republican Race 'Hijacks' China-U.S. Relations
Diario de Cuyo, Argentina: Chavez and Obama: A Common Electoral Challenge
News, Switzerland: Romney's Core Presidential Competency: 'Shameless Lying'
Samidoon, Palestinian Territories: 'Thank You Newt: Your Insolence is Required!'
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: Gingrich's 'Fervent' Wish: 'Final Solution' for Palestinians
FTD, Germany: U.S. Republicans Must Expunge 'Radicalism' and Choose Romney
Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia: Putin is Better than Goldman Sachs
Liberation, France: Democracy Crippled: Economics Replaces Separation of Powers
El Pais, Spain: Occupy Wall Street: Will it Help or Hinder Reelection of Obama?


As recently as the eighties, when I evangelized in Germany, I became used to graffiti slogans like "Ami go home." Romney walked door to door on the streets of Paris in May 1968, in the middle of the student unrest and Vietnam protests. There he probably heard a lot about how evil his country was.


Romney later said that for him, his mission was a period during which, "most of what I was trying to do was rejected." Even if it doesn't seem that way: If Romney does win the election in November, there will finally be a man in the White House who knows the Europeans.


*Eric T. Hansen is an American, an author (Planet Germany) and a satirist, who has spent half his life in Germany and is currently in Berlin. His new book Planet Amerika will be published in September. Once a week during the U.S. election campaign, he explains the peculiarities of his homeland on Zeit Online.




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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Aug. 9, 11:19pm]


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