The rationale presented by Ray Ring that a proposed BLM to LDS Church land exchange should not take place (HCN, 9/30/02: This land holds a story the church won't tell) is based almost entirely on bigotry rather than on any real merit.
The primary reason Mr. Ring gives for not supporting the land transfer is that he feels the LDS church's representation of the historic events at Martin's Cove is one-sided.
The "story" Mr. Ring alleges the LDS church won't tell is that, in Mr. Ring's opinion, the Mormons who suffered and died at Martin's Cove had it coming to them because their non-mainstream religious practices were offensive to the religiously intolerant residents of the Midwest. He says as much with this gem of a sentence: "Violence against the Mormons was brutal and inexcusable, but they certainly contributed to their own travails."
Excuse me, but how exactly did they contribute to their own travails? By exercising their constitutionally protected right to religious freedom?
Violence and bigotry are inexcusable, PERIOD. There is no BUT. No amount of "holier-than-thou zealotry" on the part of the Mormon pioneers can justify the actions of murderous mobs who chased them from state to state, until eventually they sought refuge in the mountains of the West, where many froze or starved.
What Mr. Ring is really saying is that somehow the religious intolerance of the Missouri mobs was justifiable because of the peculiarity of the Mormon's faith. His argument is loaded with the same subtle bigotry used by extremists today to justify violence against Muslims, Jews, women, homosexuals or anyone else who dares to venture outside of accepted mainstream Christianity.
Would HCN feel comfortable publishing an editorial stating that "anti-Semitic violence is unjustifiable, BUT the Jews certainly have contributed to their own travails," or, "violence against women is inexcusable, BUT she certainly contributed to her rape by wearing that short dress"?
If violence and bigotry are inexcusable, then don't make excuses for those who perpetrate them. If HCN is truly a paper for people that care about the West, it would do well to drop the bigotry from its articles.
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