Daniel Martin Varisco: The Weakness of Romney’s RightRoundup: Historians' Take
Daniel Martin Varisco is professor of anthropology at Hofstra University.
If one thing is clear in the build-up to the 2012 presidential election, it is that the Republican candidate Mitt Romney is less someone most Americans want to vote for than Barack Obama is someone that many people do not want to vote for. The elephant in the debate room, or at least one of the herd that has swelled with the ramping up of polemical rhetoric on all sides, is Islam. Not the real Islam, which most Americans would have a hard time recognizing anyway, but two prominent distortions. The most conservative born-again, Bible-believing Christians, often lumped together in the loose term “Evangelical,” have long viewed Mormonism as a dangerous cult modeled after Islam. Some of these same folk, including those less devout who drink a redneck portion of beer and say they belong to a tea party, have decided that President Obama is really a Muslim. So for the conspiratorial fringe, this election boils down to voting for one Muslim (or should I say Mohammedan) or another.
No doubt many of the Bible-believing saints are praying for the Rapture before November. Let’s face it: what would Jesus do if his choice was between voting for a Mormon (that born-againers say are heretics) or a stealth Muslim (as the birthers contend)? I suspect few would quote the biblical passage (Matthew 22:21) where Jesus says “Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” since taxation is obviously Satanic. Besides, Caesar died a long time ago. And I imagine that the Sermon on the Mount mantra of not smiting back, when someone is cheeky. and not resisting evil would also not be quoted. If you happen to be a Mormon, of which there are over 6 million in the United States, then you would expect Jesus to vote for Mitt, since Mormons teach that Jesus has returned to visit various Mormon leaders here in America, as recently as 1918. Muslims are not very likely to vote for Romney because the Mormon church borrowed several ideas (like a divine book delivered by an angel and polygyny) from Islam. So the right wing that has come to vote Republican without thinking is really between the Rock of Ages and a hard place.
The modern day Church of Latter Day Saints is not exactly in the image of Joseph Smith’s vision back in 1820, but next time you spend a night in a Marriott Hotel, there will still be a Book of Mormon alongside the Gideon Bible. This has not gone unnoticed by Bible thumpers. To my knowledge no American hotel chain yet has a copy of the Qur’an in every room, but no doubt several Red States have already introduced legislation to prevent such an act of touristic terrorism on the home front.
The link between Mormonism and Islam was pronounced in the 19th century, when Mormons were literally hounded out of several states and forced to make due, as they did quite well, in the locust-infested valleys of Utah and Idaho. Consider, for example, THE WOMEN OF MORMONISM: or THE STORY OF POLYGAMY, As Told by the Victims Themselves, Edited By JENNIE ANDERSON FROISETH, Editor of the Anti-Polygamy Standard, Salt Lake City, WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MISS FRANCES E. WILLARD, published in 1886 and faithfully archived online on biblebelievers.net. Here is what Ms. Willard (no relation to Willard “Mitt” Romney I suspect) wrote:
Turkey is doubtless the most debased country on earth, and there, as I was told in Constantinople by an American of twenty years’ residence in that capital, a Turkish gentleman (?) who so far forgets himself as to mention his wife in the hearing of ears polite, always adds, ” I beg your pardon for the allusion.” In Syria, I learned1 from the missionaries that a man never calls himself a father unless he has a son, his daughters being altogether counted out as ciphers until a brother’s birth places a significant figure before them, after which they are mentioned as “That boy’s sisters.”
But America need not go so far for illustrations. Turkey is in our midst. Modern Mohammedanism has its Mecca at Salt Lake, where Prophet Heber C. Kimball speaks of his wives as “cows.” Clearly the Koran was Joseph Smith’s model, so closely followed so as to exclude even the poor pretension of originality in his foul “revelations ” Man was to take his position in the future world according to the zeal with which he had “built up the kingdom,” while woman’s immortality depended on her conjugal relations here.
When we consider that the country which permits this abomination of desolation to continue, is the “bright consummate flower “of Christian civilization; when we remember what o’clock it is in the Nineteenth Century, and that the formula of Utah’s monstrous lust is, “Live Your Religion” we are tempted to change Sojourner Truth’s famous words ” Is God dead ? ” from a question into a heart-sick affirmation.
If ever the incalculable mischief of excluding women from direct participation in Government had an illustration so conspicuous as to silence the blindest conservative, it is afforded by the dalliance of Congress with polygamous Delegate Cannon and his unclean constituency. Were women in the House of Representatives, the disgraceful record that must go down in history would not be even thinkable. The same esprit de corps in women which led a Mormon wife to say as she touched the chilly hand of a dying man, “Thank God, this can never again strike a woman !” has inspired the brave woman who writes this book.
I have read its pages with thoughts too deep tears. Some sulphur-shrouded planet may have a vocabulary fiendish enough to fitly characterize what they reveal, but mere English is only the vocabulary of a prating parrot in presence of such pathos and such woe.
There is something chivalric as the knights of old in the Author’s defense of Mormon women from the harsh criticisms made by the uninformed upon their course in submitting to this most awful form of tyranny. But with the physical strength and the money-power in the one scale, and the mother-heart in the other, there is no more mystery about the passive attitude of Mormon women than about that of unhappy wives in more favored localities, or in the mute endurance of slaves or squaws.
When Brigham Young declared that “if women would not submit to polygamy they should be eternally damned,” and when history shows that women who have resisted have often been murdered, the mystery of the non-resistance policy which they commonly pursue, is certainly cleared up. ” Starve them, and beat them if necessary, to bring them to submission,” said the Mormon apostles; ” better crucify the body than let the soul go to perdition. ” Well was the method of these hypocrites characterized by a Mormon woman who said of one of them, “He is a man who steps on hearts as though he stepped on stones.”
The fact that Emma Smith, the first wife of Joseph, so trained her sons they reorganized the church, and their branch prohibited polygamy, shows that the one woman who had power in this subtle hierarchy was swift to use it for a righteous end.
Surely it is time that the Christian women of this nation arouse themselves to organized action against this sum of all curses which can curse the sex not physically strong. To say we have been hitherto indifferent would be a libel on our womanhood no less than our religion; to say we have been idle would be unjust, when we remember the books of Mrs. Stenhouse, the Anti-Polygamy Journal of Mrs. Froiseth, the lectures of Mrs. Ann Eliza Young, and the great petitions which have registered where they were little heeded, the votes of the great army of women whose actual ballot would soon deliver our captive sisters on the blighted frontier.
But the hour demands a deeper, more combined, and far-reaching movement; and the instinct of self-protection no less than of philanthropy should warn the wives and mothers of this land that each that each woman degraded means the potential degradation of all women.
Who will lead us along the path of high endeavor which this thoughtful volume indicates, until the Book of Mormon is burned in the fierce blaze of Christian manhood’s indignation and woman’s righteous wrath, and the Gospel of Him who came not only to redeem the world but to restore to woman her lost inheritance, ” the equality of equals,” is the beloved Home Religion in every Home?
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