Friday, February 27, 2009

bigots, remember history!

for those anti-muslim bigots among the members of the mormon church, a look back at history ought to provide a tempering, sobering influence. it is never excusable to be whipping up hatred of minority religious or ethnic groups. but to come from a community which suffered persecution in the past and to nonetheless persist in these views is doubly wrong.

while reading Richard Bushman's book on Joseph Smith, i came across the words of newspaper editors who, in the 1840s, were calling for the dispersal and extermination of the mormon community in illinois. all you need do is replace the term "mormon" with "muslim" and you get a fair sense of the anti-muslim bigotry which animates a portion of the political right (recall ann coulter's call after to 9-11 to invade muslim countries, raze their cities, and enslave their women).

Thomas Gregg, a moderate editor, protested this extreme bigotry: "We see no use in attempting to disguise the fact, that many in our midst contemplate a total extermination of that people; that the thousands of defenceless women and children, aged and infirm, who are congregated at Nauvoo, must be driven out -- aye DRIVEN -- SCATTERED -- like the leaves before the Autumn blast! But what good citizen, let us ask -- what lover of his country and his race, but contemplates such an event with horror?" apparently quite a number of people contemplated such scenes with great relish, just as today there are many who lust for muslim blood. Gregg called for a meeting between the two sides to resolve differences.

one response was this: "I say, No, Never!! Just as well might you call upon us to strike hands with Pirates, or to compromise with the Powers of Darkness." Or, "You know but little of the circumstances by which the people of this county are surrounded -- you know nothing of the repeated insults and injuries received by our citizens from the Heads of the Mormon Church. . .We say, you can know nothing of these things, our you could not undertake to lecture us, for endeavoring to expose such a gang of outlaws, blacklegs, and bloodsuckers." (p.532-33)

interesting to note the "bloodsucker" ephithet, which was also used often on the Jews.


Beave said...

Very well said.

You have a great blog, very fresh and thought provoking.

ratbert said...

thanks very much, beave -- i am glad you like it.