Glen Warchol's Salt Lake Tribune blog this week about what he headlined the Mormon Mafia -- linked from the Trib's front page when he wrote it -- is typical of the archetypes of Mormonism used by anti-Mormons for more than 100 years and is an invidous comparison that deserves criticism.
Warchol's point, in which he quotes Vanity Fair, was somehow that three Mormons were involved in what he deemed crafting of torture memos and are hisses and bywords among many scholars. What Mormonism has to do with the whole thing is a little unclear other than some Mormons worked for Bush/Cheney
It is invidious because Mafia frames Mormons as dangerously secretive, an unfortunately common stereotype of Mormons. My doctoral research and the work of Pew and of Terryl Givens suggests that these kinds of linkages in national memory remain.
Nineteenth Century portrayals of Mormon portrayed us as a kind of dangerous Islam -- men with dangerous harems living in a desert with warlike tendencies. The on-going fascination with Mormon polygamy, with Mormon wealth, even to a lesser extent with the terrible Mountain Meadows Massacre are examples of how this frame continues to work. By linking Mormons with Mafia, torture and secret practices, he plays on the worst Mormon stereotypes and those stereotypes wound.