From my journal, February 20, 2003:
I needed to know more about early anti-Mormonism. I asked Bro. Whitchurch if he knew of anyone in the Rel. department who might be particularly knowledgable of that, and he said no. I asked Bro. Keller yesterday in class, and he said maybe Don Cannon, although he wasn't sure. But Steve [F. --- a student friend of mine] said his D&C teacher, Bro. Fluhman, was doing his Doctoral dissertation on anti-Mormonism in the 1800's. Bingo.
I went and spoke to Bro. Fluhman today, and not only was he enormously helpful, but I enjoyed the conversation and I was very impressed by him. In some ways he reminds me of Dr. [Eric] Huntsman [a good friend of mine]. Of course, he was capable of telling me more about the subject than I ever could have cared to know. He gave me some good ideas for my paper.
But, perhaps more importantly, he was very encouraging . . . He also talked to me about doing American Religious History for my master's. The thought had honestly never occurred to me. But I will keep it in mind.
Not only is Spencer Fluhman someone I respect tremendously, but he is the reason I am doing a degree in American religious history right now, as he was the first person to put the suggestion into my head. He is very knowledgeable of the history of anti-Mormonism and someone I am inclined to take seriously, even when I disagree with him.
And in the case of this article, for parts of it, I do disagree with him. It's something I'll maybe elaborate on in a blog post if I have time.
(BTW, the title may not have been selected by him. Editors often select titles.)
To my knowledge, headlines are written by editors and I don't think NYT would have made an exception here.
I re-read the article after reading your post but it still seems that the title flows very naturally from the article. I don't think it mis-characterizes it in any way.
In my re-reading, it strikes me that the article could have been written from exactly the opposite perspective, the model minority now has its first viable US presidential candidate, but some people still make fun of them. In fact, I've personally noted a trend in the bigger city press to speak kindly (too kindly, in my opinion) of Mormonism and take it seriously. Instead, the article was one long "poor me."
For a long time Mormonism has had this "two headedness" about itself. We're model but denigrated. But here, there was only one head, everybody's picking on me.
When the article does turn to a positive, it comes across belligerently, well everone picked on us, some were disloyal, but we just kept growing. (Except there's real questions about whether it is growing.)
This is the old style of presenting Mormonism, something DCP would feel comfortable with. The article isn't in the image of GBH upbeat PR.
I don't think the largest newpapers have done a very good job of trying to look a Mormonism in more depth. They have just turned to the inside insiders. Will we see a NYT, LA T WashPost or WJ blog from Mauss, Brooke, Quinn, Steven Benson? Hell, I'd love to read what Kish would have to say.
Looking forward to your blog post, will you link it? And good luck with your US religion degree. Some of the most pleasant days of my life were passed studying that field.