Accurate Citations from Books and Articles, False Memory Syndrome, or Speech Writer Blunder?
by Albert N. Milliron
Mitt Romney’s speech on December 6th, 2007 called “Faith in America”, has a statement In the 26th paragraph containing the now controversial statement, “I saw my Father (The Late Michigan Governor George Romney) march with Martin Luther King.” Governor Romney made a similar statement on Meet the Press, when he said, “My dad marched with Martin Luther King.”
Shortly following the speech, The Boston Phoenix reported it couldn’t find evidence that Romney and King ever marched together. Then Boston Globe reported Romney said his father had told him he had marched with King and that he had been using the word “saw” in a “figurative sense”. Romney later told reporters while campaigning in Iowa,” It’s a figure of speech and very familiar, and it’s very common. I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort.”
The Bloggers and News Channels were ablaze with correlations between Romney’s definition of “Saw” was, and Former President Clinton’s, “Is” is. I was saddened that Romney had lied about the event. But my own memory erupted with conflict as I had memories of prominent Republicans being champions of civil rights like Governor George Romney. This was an important issue to me as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is touted by the Democrats as theirs alone.
Governor Romney marching with Martin Luther King is something I remember as being an accurate statement. I knew I had read this in several source materials while studying civil rights in political science courses, but where? I began perusing my office for those books long since collecting dust from years of misuse and neglect. Ah, I found them, my office contained five books and articles that made the definitive statement that Romney did indeed march with Martin Luther King.
I began wondering about my psychological training. I formally was a behavioral scientist for the Army Medical Corps and a Rehabilitation Therapist with the Department of Psychiatry at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I have also have published psychological research articles on cognitive behaviorism.
I remember some of my training focusing on something called, False Memory Syndrome. The word, “False”, here does not always mean the event never occurred but that the event my not have been observed but resides in the memory. Neuroscience caution that seemingly long-buried memories can be pure fantasy or distortions. This comes when throughout life an event is shared over and over, a picture of the event is developed in the mind of the hearer later your develop the belief that you were ion attendance of the event.
The question arises, could Romney have been told this tale throughout his childhood to late teen years about his father, a champion of human rights, marching with Martin Luther King Than during schooling reading textbooks that related the event occurred? A psychological process called false memory syndrome could have taken effect and Romney developed a memory that he actually saw his Father march with Martin Luther King?
This scenario is completely plausible as this syndrome has been documented following the return of veterans from the combat theater. Some veterans believe they were part of a particular action, when in reality they were injured and being treated in a hospital.
Children have also fallen victim to this syndrome as a social worker, parent or another authoritative figure, continuously asks questions, providing details, and then asking the child if the events cited is what happened. The child finally indicates the affirmative. Later it is found the so called victim in the case had been suggested the events and in order to do as the authoritative figure wished agreed that the event was truth.
Roseanne Barr shocked the world with her story that she had “remembered,” through the help of a psychotherapist, that her parents had sexually abused her as a child- something she never dreamed of before the counseling sessions.
In this writers life, I have been told stories from family members about events both positive and negative. Over the years my memory seems so clear that I was at the events mentioned. Later to find out that I couldn’t have possibly been there. An example of this is, my memory of the funeral of John F. Kennedy. I was born in August in the year 1962. I couldn’t have possibly remembered that event. I can still see the event in my minds eye. For forty-four years I had seen on television, heard stories where people were at the time of Kennedy shooting, and developed my own memory that I watched the funeral on television in 1963.
Could it be that Romney’s speech writer went back to authoritative citations and added it to the Candidates speech. Romney remembers the events due to False Memory Syndrome and approved the speech for presentation. Later, when Romney answered questions presented by the media, he realized the time frames did not match as he was on his 2 year mission at the time of the events cited and became confused having quite a bit of difficulty answering the reporters questions.
There is the sinister possibility. Romney knew he didn’t see the event, thought facts wouldn’t be caught, allowed the content in his speech to relate that his Family had been very sensitive to minority and civil rights issues.
The Writers view: Willard Mitt Romney head this story during his early life. He developed a visual of the events told to him. He later believed based on these memories that he was actually in attendance.
- The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the G.O.P. – Page 107 by Stephen Hess, David S. Broder – 1967 – 440 pages – “He has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe”
- A Nation Divided: The 1968 Presidential Campaign – Page 205 by Darcy G. Richardson – Political Science – 2002 – 532 page – “He also marched with Dr. Martin Luther King”
- America Reborn: A Twentieth-Century Narrative in Twenty-Six Lives – Page 200 by Martin Walker – History – 2000 – 416 pages – “He marched arm in arm with Martin Luther King, Jr.”
- Detroit: City of Race and Class Violence – Page 157 by B. J. Widick – History – 1989 – 291 pages -Martin Luther King, Jr., aroused the conscience of the nation to begin the … Governor George Romney, and Walter Reuther were among the prominent whites
- Stephen Hess And David Broder, The Republican Establishment: The Present And Future Of The G.O.P., 1967, p. 107, “He has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit and he is on record in support of full-coverage Federal open-housing legislation.”
- Todd Sprangler, “Romney Fields Questions On King -” Detroit Free Press, 12/20/07, “The governor’s record was one of supporting civil rights. He helped create the state’s first civil rights commission and marched at the head of a protest parade in Detroit days after violence against civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala., in 1965.”
- Jim Bishop, The Days Of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1971, p. 385 – The Days Of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In Detroit, Governor George Romney and Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh called for a march to protest what had happened in Selma.”
- Octavia Vivian, Coretta: The Story of Coretta Scott King, 2006, p. 99 -”Vice President Hubert Humphrey represented the White House. Senator and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy; Mrs. John F. Kennedy; Governor and Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller of New York; the mayor of New York City, John V Lindsay; and Michigan’s governor, George Romney, were present.”