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Ex-Jew-Counter Against Politicizing Religion

Romney adviser Fred Malek takes a stand

Marc Tracy
February 21, 2012
Fred Malek on MSNBC today.(MSNBC)
Fred Malek on MSNBC today.(MSNBC)

A TV-watching tipster caught Mitt Romney adviser Fred Malek on MSNBC today discussing the crucial upcoming Michigan primary. Transcript and video here, including this following exchange (which I’ve transcribed, and the bold is mine):

ANDREA MITCHELL: Let me ask you about the religion issue, because Franklin Graham on Morning Joe today was asked about the Mormon question and this is the way he handled it. He basically said that Christians do not view the Mormon faith as a Christian faith. Let me play it for you.

[plays clip]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Do you think this is an issue? Was it an issue in South Carolina? Will it be an issue in Michigan? Will it be an issue on super tuesday in the South?

FRED MALEK: I don’t think it’s a issue at all, and it would be a sad day in America if we’re gonna elect somebody based upon their religion or vote against somebody based on their religion.

As members of a minority faith, many Jews no doubt agree with Malek’s sentiment; and last week in Tablet Magazine, Yair Rosenberg persuasively argued that many anti-Mormon tropes and conspiracy theories have plenty in common with anti-Semitic ones.

Which is why it’s worth remembering that, as The New Republic‘s Timothy Noah has been particularly careful not to let us forget, Fred Malek used to be President Nixon’s Jew-counter: at his boss Nixon’s direction, he compiled a list of Jews (or, rather, people with Jewish names) at the Bureau of Labor Statistics; actively worked to demote or halt the promotion of some of these people; then lied about it; and since has neither corrected his lies nor apologized for his original actions. “I believe that Malek was probably repulsed by what he ended up doing for Nixon,” Noah wrote. “But he did it, and ever since Malek has lied to avoid admitting the depth of his involvement in this grotesque episode.” It didn’t seem to bother Sarah Palin when she had him as an adviser; it somehow feels more troubling that it also apparently does not bother Romney.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.