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Bannon's attack against Mormon missions and Mitt Romney has no moral authority

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a rally for U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Fairhope Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Former White House strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a rally for U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Fairhope Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson, Associated Press

Society must not let the likes of Steve Bannon or Roy Moore define “honor and integrity.” Those in uniform deserve respect and admiration. Their service should never be used as a political tool.

On Tuesday, however, firebrand Steve Bannon leveraged society’s well-deserved veneration for men and women in uniform to paper over the credible sexual assault allegations against his preferred Senate candidate, Alabama's Roy Moore.

Moore denies the accusations.

While stumping for Moore, Bannon — a populist activist who previously ran Donald Trump’s campaign and served as the White House chief strategist — used the opportunity to impugn Mitt Romney’s “honor and integrity.”

Romney has been an outspoken critic of Moore, who is accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls while a bachelor in his 30s. And, after the RNC recently decided to provide support for Moore’s race, Romney tweeted out that the candidate would be a “stain” on the GOP: “No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”

Bannon, who has backed Moore’s bid from the beginning, told the Alabama crowd that “Judge Roy Moore” has “more honor and integrity in his pinky finger than (Mitt Romney's) entire family.”

Speaking on the subject of Moore's service in Vietnam as well as his “honor and integrity” Bannon accused Romney of hiding “behind” his religion, when the 19-year-old Romney deferred Vietnam service to answer a mission call for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam.”

Putting aside that Bannon's political idol, Donald Trump, also deferred service during the Vietnam War, the subtle suggestion that one’s service in the military might be a reason to overlook disturbing allegations does a severe disservice to the country's men and women in uniform.

While Bannon is familiar with the accusations against Moore regarding his alleged treatment of teenage girls, if he really cares to learn about "honor and integrity" he would do well to read about Romney's efforts to rescue a teenage girl back in the summer of 1996.

According to reports by the Boston Globe, Romney temporarily shut down his firm, Bain Capitol, to devote its sizable resources to search for the teenage daughter of one his colleagues who had gone missing after a night out in New York City.

Romney chartered a flight from Boston to New York, and, according to the Globe, "set up elaborate search parties, mapping out territories of New York City and turning to a public relations firm for help. Within days, they’d been featured on TV news, and the teenager who had taken (the daughter) home to Montauk, N.Y. — where she was shivering through detox after a massive dose of ecstasy — called hoping for a reward."

Meanwhile, that same summer, while Romney was saving a woman in distress, Bannon was facing misdemeanor charges in California for domestic violence and battery. Bannon pled not guilty.

Although the case was dismissed when the “victim/witness” was “unable to be located,” the police reports note that Bannon’s then-wife said she had been forcefully grabbed by her neck and wrist (which were photographed). According to the report, when she attempted to call the police, Bannon smashed the phone.

Bannon, she said, had a history of physical disputes with her.

Honor? Integrity?

Certainly no one is spotless, and we should be cautious about how we judge others. But men who have long dwelt in glass houses should be careful about throwing stones. Or, in the disturbing case of Steve Bannon, throwing phones.

Hal Boyd is the opinion editor of the Deseret News.