last time your correspondent was in Ogden, just under two years
ago, Olympic fever was in the air. Many there were who expected
the Winter Olympics to raise their real estate prices and generally
float their boat. Had I wished to pick a fight with these folks,
I suppose I could have mentioned how Atlantans felt after the games
there, but I saw no reason to break their balloon.
that deflation will likely take care of itself, and the wisdom of
Denver, which rejected the Winter Olympics some years ago, may soon
be held up for admiration. The games were wanted, one guesses, for
the usual local mercantilist reasons. Spend some of the taxpayersí
money to make the games possible I leave the whole bribery scandal
to one side and, lo! and behold, "they will come." Everyone
will be happier and wealthier, except for those who arenít.
with the mountain passes occupied by more federales than
were on hand in 1858 and with the high-toned gentry of the press
expressing their shock that Utah is in fact Utah, I certainly am
regretting the whole thing. Iíll have to ask some of the cousins
how they like it the games, I mean, not Utah. The unpleasantries
of 1857-1858 are referred to as "the Utah War" (more popularly
"the Mormon War"), which may illustrate the point that
if Uncle Sam makes war on you, he will be enough of a gentleman
to name the war after you (or is that just his way of handing out
geographer Wilbur Zelinsky once wrote that only two regions of the
U.S. continental empire have ever been sufficiently disaffected
to undertake separatist projects the South and Utah. Separatist
movements do not necessarily have much in common and seldom see
one another as being on the same side of history. Thus General Albert
Sidney Johnston presided over the Mormon War but within a couple
of years he was doing useful work for the cause of Southern independence.
redoubtable Noah Smithwick, Texas pioneer and Unionist, claimed
in his memoirs that Mormons he met on their way through Texas were
all for the useful precedent which Southern secession appeared to
be setting. Be that as it may, up in Utah, Brigham Young had to
steer clear of other peopleís secessionist projects, however much
he cherished his own, because he had to allow for possible Northern
victory. No point in making things worse for Deseret.
despite certain longstanding differences between Utah and other
states, which ought to have been well known, the historically ignorant
"with-its" of the mass media have been finding the whole
thing Utah very unsettling indeed. Not for them the old saying,
when in Rome do as the Romans do. Well what the Hell did they expect?
whole thing reminds me of an old joke (too long to summarize here),
the punch-line of which is "If it makes you sick, why do it?"
If the worthy dames and gents of the press didnít want to be in
Utah, they could have delegated their Olympic reporting chores to
the locals. Iím sure the latter could handle it. As for the national
press corps, sadder but wise, they can lobby to keep the games from
ever unfolding in Utah again.
make these proposals in lieu of another one truly an impossible
dream namely that the press come to Utah and display good manners
toward their hosts. Since the big-hearted journalists embody U.S.
official ideology and follow all its twists and turns, no one could
rightly expect them to tolerate the localsí intolerance even or
especially on the localsí own turf. After all, tolerance and diversity
themselves are at stake.
two or three weeks before the start of the games, the press was
swamped with goggle-eyed stories of the "Mormons Discovered
in Utah!" and the "How Can They Possibly Be Like That?"
varieties. I began to dread the games. The opening ceremonies did
not disappoint. Leaving to one side official U.S. seizure of the
occasion to promote an international agenda, there was much to reflect
on. The commentary informed us in English and French that Utah owes
much to its diverse history. Canadian trappers and Mexicans
were mentioned a few times. Five resident Indian tribes put on a
show of some kind. There were vague allusions to rather unspecified
"pioneers," which seemed to serve only as an introduction
to the Dixie Chicks.
Romney, looking somewhat like a sacrificial lamb, failed to clarify
much for the international audience. The closest the unspecified
"pioneers" came to being acknowledged was when the ******
Tabernacle Choir was introduced. Unless I missed something, the
systematic suppression of the salient facts of Utah history was
almost as perfect as the suppression of pictures of the (then) Georgia
flag at the Atlanta follies.
am grateful, however, that a handful of Canadian trappers, some
Mexicans, and local Indian peoples built the cities, created the
irrigation systems, and undertook the farming and industrial projects
that made civilized life in Utah possible.
opening ceremonies, in their obsessive flight from actual history,
were a worthy complement to the weeks old press campaign. For the
press, Utah is too boring, too white, too conservative; or, alternatively,
not "diverse" enough, not gay enough, not liberal enough.
Case closed. In short, Utah is just another of those evil backwaters
which sit, with malice aforethought, athwart the progressive path
of the Locomotive of History. It is surprising that Utah has not
been included on the shortlist with Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.
pity of it is that the poor Utahns probably support the present
pseudo-Texan administration of Bush II which, like its evil twin
The Other Party, entirely embraces the progressive program of crushing
out all that is authentic and local. In this, they are as misled
any yellow-dog-Democrat-turned-yellow-dog-Republican to be found
in the South. It is the great paradox of U.S. history: the localists
ought to get together to stop the political center, but in the very
act of getting together they (or at least their leaders) cease to
to return to the heroic free press for a moment. Some fellow at
the Denver Post tells us that Salt Lake is forever discredited
in winter sporting circles and that Denver, rah, rah, rah, shall
inherit all. Well, he is a sports writer and has a license
to be childish. But, alas, the fellow is of the new breed a PC
sports writer and the failures of infrastructure and support (if
such there are) are not his main interest.
main theme, throughout the piece in question, is that Utah has those
terrible Mormons in it and, being the majority, they give the place
its awful tone. (I guess majority rule is only a good idea when
the majority agree with PC sports writers.) The horror: people are
"forced" and "coerced" into hearing about religion
by vicious bigots, who eat Jell-O, have funny alcohol laws, and
arenít non-white enough or gay enough. The Mormon Church, he assures
us, was everywhere "on display" what a persecution! but how, one might ask, can that be helped? I mean, the LDS church
is based there and I doubt that the Twelve could really be
expected to hide in the genealogical archives for the duration,
just to make outside agitators feel better.
donít think the entire church membership would fit into the genealogical
basement and, anyway, who would then wait on the gracious
members of the press?
Denver postman goes on: The Salt Lake Olympics are as bad as the
Atlanta games, which were in turn as bad as the 1936 games, hosted
by you guessed it HITLER. This means, apparently, that Salt
Lake = Atlanta = Nazism; or something like that.
tone in other papers has hardly been better. There is the usual
uninformed obsession with polygamy, an obsession the outside press
shares with Utahís government and the Salt Lake Tribune,
each for its own historically specific reasons. Then comes the notion
that people are deprived of all their cherished vices in the Beehive
State. It is true of course that hard liquor is under cumbersome
restrictions, but the same is true in Ontario, South Carolina, and
some other places. The situation with regard to wine is probably
no worse than in Ontario, and you can get beer just about anywhere.
grant there may be a class issue here, since one could not without
great injustice reduce the lords of the press to drinking something
as proletarian as beer.
there was the great Olympic condom flap. Apparently, some in Utah
took it amiss that the Olympic Committee supplies its own brand,
and this gave rise to great hilarity in the outside world. Okay,
fine. But canít the athletes and the visitors afford their own damned
we come to the proselytizing. People the world over know that if
you see two guys with ties riding bicycles, they will try to engage
you in religious dialogue. Is it especially shocking that something
similar might happen on these missionariesí home ground? Short of
outlawing religious belief, I canít see much that could be done
course this brings us very near the underlying complaints of the
media, in their capacity as popularizers of federal ideology. It
bothers these folks that somewhere within the very clutches of Uncleís
self-awarded universal sovereignty, there remain cohesive religious
communities that do not feel especially guilty or defensive for
believing things now considered quite odd. Many of these things
were "normal" scarcely thirty or forty years; hence the
constant refrain that living in Utah is like living in the fifties.
Why life in the fifties should sum up all social evil short of Hitler
is left unanswered, but I must leave that to one side.
great evil of Utah is that there you have people who believe in
marriage, in having children, in not killing their unborn children
at the first inconvenience, in patriotism of an older kind, in local
self-government, and the like. Utah has the only Caucasian population
in the world that is reproducing itself at above replacement levels indeed well above them. White people without a demographic death-wish!
This might account for some of the hate directed at Utah in recent
weeks. Send for the cruise missiles!
we hear, endlessly, that Utah is not diverse enough, and the official
classes in Utah itself help carry the tune. Yet Utah has descendants
of Anglo-Americans, English immigrants, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians,
and more, which seems fairly diverse to me. I guess thereís diversity
and then thereís real diversity.
else made that particular desert bloom?
a colleague of mine put it the other day, over beers, the diversity
gang hate nothing in the world so much as a genuine case of difference.
Still, itís odd, the press being so shocked and all about Mormons
in Utah. Why there are Mormons in Utah, and what that might teach
us about geography, empire, immigration, etc., must be put off to
what can we learn from the present scandal? Perhaps the following:
No points are granted for having a working democracy if the majority
itself is just plain bad. No points are given for making the desert
bloom, if the resulting blooms are in the wrong desert. Points are
taken away for the least appearance of theocracy, unless the theocracy
is in the correct desert.
am almost sorry it fell to me to make these observations, but if
the eternally adversary Salt Lake Tribune, the Ogden Standard-Examiner,
and even the Deseret News canít be bothered, someone should
say it. It isnít a matter of "Utah, love it or leave it."
Itís much, much simpler: No one forces people to go to Utah,
especially people who honestly think that they wonít like it
there. Nobody in Utah will miss them if they donít move there.
for self-actualizing Utah-haters who went there only because of
the games, they might at least shut up while they are there.
This isnít about the First Amendment. It is about basic manners.
Anyway, such tender folk can write all the anti-Utah tracts and
books they wish after they have kicked the salty dust from their
Dialogue, Sunstone, Mormons, Jack Mormons, and non-Mormons,
Utah already has just about as much internal debate as it is likely
to need. If Uncle Samís program of universal world salvation requires
spokesmen in Utah, it already has them in the form of Utah public
TV, sundry state bureaucracies, and the leadership of the two barely
distinguishable political parties which, unfortunately, are found
in all fifty of the empireís satrapies.
to the last bunch, I think it might well be argued that Brigham
Young Ė even if every last charge ever made against him were true
Ė would still look like a constructive statesman of epic proportions albeit in the wrong desert in the wrong century.
R. Stromberg [send him mail]
is holder of the JoAnn B. Rothbard Chair in History at the Ludwig
von Mises Institute and a columnist for LewRockwell.com
© 2002 LewRockwell.com
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