Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sun Myung Moon and the American People

Last week I posted the video clip of the Saturday Night Live spoof of Moonies and deprogrammers from 1977. A similar skit would not work on SNL now.

Why not? I ask people about Moon. Generally if the person I'm asking is under 35, the likelihood is that he/she has never heard of Moon. Most older people have heard of Moon but they generally mention things such as mass marriages and the deprogramming controversy.

Moon and his organizations have changed tactics. During the 1970's, Moon had a very high public profile with highly publicized rallies at Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden. The Unification Church actively recruited American young people who then became highly visible hawkers of flowers and trinkets on the streets of major American cities. Putting his cards on the table was not a way for Moon to earn the love of the American people--it made him the object of intense dislke and fear among Americans. In 1979, a survey of Americans who ranked 155 famous people on likability had Moon ranked 154 (the only famous person Moon beat out was Charles Manson).

Beginning in the 1980's, Reverend Moon began keeping a much lower profile. He deemphasized the recruitment of American college students to do his fund raising (quick aside: most of the Moonies who have approached me in the past few years were Japanese nationals). Moon and his organizations focused on the American power structure--creating the Washington Times, buying UPI, and courting prominent American politicians and journalists.

The irony is that Moon is more powerful than he was during the 1970's and because his political activities are more-or-less under the radar, people tend not to know about them. Also, it doesn't hurt Moon that we have a timid journalistic community (click here and skip to 47:00 and hear from former Washington Times editor James Whelan on why this is the case) and a feckless and clueless Democratic Party.

1 comment:

jonerik said...

I think you're right that a leopard like Moon never really changes his spots. The 1970's cult business of his was genuinely creepy. (Don Delillo wrote a book, Mao II, which has a chilling opening scene of the Moonie mass wedding in Yankee stadium. When I read it, I thought it was science fiction and was astounded to learn later that it actually had happened). Do have any ideas about whther Moon's influence has reached into the Christian righ wing or any other members of the House or Senate?