208 Comments

Benson, Eisenhower, and Communism

I’m not sure why President Benson is so popular lately.  Will at Wheat and Tares asked, Were President Benson’s Words Prophetic? In Sunday’s Salt Lake Tribune, FBI files shed light on Ezra Taft Benson, Ike and the Birch Society.  In July, I promised to talk about President Benson’s politics, and I guess the timing is right; I’m finally getting back to that post.

R Gary runs a blog called No Death Before the Fall, and I was surprised that my comment was censored by him.  Well, here we can talk about things a bit more freely than R Gary allows.  (All comments must be approved by him prior to publishing them, unlike my blog that publishes comments immediately.  I’m not afraid of disagreement, unlike R. Gary, so long as it remains civil.)

There are quite a few Latter-day Saints that view President Benson as a political hero.  Many love to quote President Benson’s “Constitution hanging by a thread” quote.  The Tribune even says that Benson is one of the inspirations for the current Tea Party movement.  I think R. Gary is similar to most “Bensonites”.  They are intensely conservative, and don’t think anything that the politician Ezra Taft Benson said or did was wrong.  Let me quote R Gary’s point of view in this comment:

Benson never saw anything wrong with civil rights, only with some of what was being done in the name of civil rights.

Well, that does seem to fly in the face of the title of Benson’s book, ” Civil Rights, Tool of Communist Deception.”  It’s out of print, but you can click on a link at Amazon to see if they can get if for the Kindle.

Let me say that I love President Benson as a prophet.  His encouragement to read the Book of Mormon was inspired counsel.  But, I’m not a big fan of Ezra Taft Benson the politician (and neither were several of the General Authorities, especially Elder Hugh B. Brown.)  I’d like to discuss a few things here that R. Gary doesn’t want to address.  There were some really incendiary comments where Benson accused certain people, such as Martin Luther King Jr, of being part of a communist conspiracy.  Greg Prince outlines some of these quotes in his David O McKay biography.  From page 92, Prince quotes the “Minutes of Council Meeting, November 4, 1965” for the following quote:

Elder Benson said he shared the feeling of the Brethren who had expressed themselves on this question, that he was confident in his own mind from a study he had made of the Negro question that we are only seeing something being carried out today that was planned by the highest councils of the communist party twenty years ago, and that Martin Luther King is an agent, if not a power in the Communist party.  He said that this whole thing is being directed and supported and promoted by agents of the Communist party, that the Negroes are being used in this whole question of Civil Rights, integration, etc., and that the NAACP are largely made up of men and women who are affiliated with from one to a dozen communist-front organizations, and he thought they would do anything in their power to embarrass the Church.

So does anyone still believe the Civil Rights movement is a Communist Conspiracy, or that MLK was a communist?

Many people like to trumpet the fact that Ezra Taft Benson served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1953-1961 while simultaneously serving as an apostle. From the Tribune article, it is apparent that Benson thought Eisenhower was soft on communism, which seems startling to me considering the fact that Ike was General Eisenhower prior to becoming President Eisenhower.  Additionally, Ike took some pretty serious blowback when Gary Powers plane was shot down while spying over the Soviet Union.

The John Birch Society (named after an American Baptist missionary and U.S. military intelligence officer killed by communist forces in China in August 1945) was founded by Robert Welch in 1958.  It was a virulently anti-communist society; Benson was not a member, but was a strong advocate.  Prince details many efforts by the society to enlist Benson as a member.  President McKay denied every request.  I liked Prince’s summary on page 279,

Throughout his long tenure as a General Authority, David O. McKay was consistently opposed to Communism.  So, uniformly, were his fellow General Authorities.  Ironically, once he had become president of the church, opposition to Communism became a seriously divisive issue among the Mormons.  On the one hand, McKay gave his special blessing to Ezra Taft Benson as an opponent of Communism, enabling this strong-willed apostle to propagate his ultra-right-wing views among church members–views that included an endorsement of the John Birch Society, founded in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 9, 1958, by Massachusetts candy maker Robert Welch.  On the other hand, McKay also responded to General Authorities who, despite their own opposition to Communism, took exception to the extremism of Benson and the John Birch Society.  These included Apostles Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee, as well as Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, McKay’s counselors in the First Presidency.  Neither Benson nor his protesting colleagues among the apostles ever achieved a clear upper hand with the aging prophet.  As a result, both Latter-day Saints who endorsed the extreme views of the John Birch Society and those who opposed them found reason to believe the prophet was on their side, and the divisive issue remained unresolved until McKay’s death in 1970, when his successor, Joseph Fielding Smith, effectively silenced Benson on the subject.

I admit that I’ve know Benson was tied to the John Birch Society, but I didn’t know much.  Prince describes a bit of detail on page 286.

In December 1958, a Massachusetts candy maker, Robert Welch, founded a right-wing extremist organization that took up where Joseph McCarthy left off in attacking Communism to target civil rights and government in general, proclaiming that “the greatest enemy of man is, and always has been, government; and that larger and more extensive that government, the greater the enemy.”37 Welch named the organization after an American soldier, John Birch, who was killed by Chinese Communists ten days after the end of World War II.  Within a year, Ezra Taft Benson had a close relationship with one of the society’s national leaders.  During 1961 he became personally acquainted with Welch,38 and the two men’s political agendas quickly aligned.

Benson tried to tie Socialism to Communism.  On October 1961 General Conference, Benson said (noted on page 287 of Prince’s book),

“Communism is fundamentally socialism.  We will never win our fight against communism by making concessions to socialism.  Communism and socialism, closely related, must be defeated on principle….No true Latter-day Saint and no true American can be a socialist or a communist or support programs leading in that direction.”42

The conflict between Benson and moderate church leaders, particularly Hugh B. Brown, was tactical rather than strategic.  “Certainly all of us are against Communism,” Brown wrote to a personal correspondent in 1961.  But that end did not justify certain means, and he was overtly critical of the means of the John Birch Society:

The Church has not taken any stand officially relating to these various groups who nominate themselves as guardians of our freedom, except in the case of the John Birch Society, and we are definitely against their methods….We do not think dividing our own people, casting reflections on our government officials, or calling everybody Communists who do not agree with the political views of certain individuals is the proper way to fight Communism.  We think the Church should be a modifying, steadying institution and our leaders, or even members, should not become hysterical or take hasty action.43

Prince describes some discussions between Brown, Benson, and McKay.  From page 288,

Brown pointed out one consequence for church members of Benson’s broad-brush attack: “All the people of Scandinavia are under Socialistic governments and certainly are not Communists.  Brother Benson’s talk ties them together and makes them equally abominable.  If this is true, our people in Europe who are living under a Socialist government are living out of harmony with the Church.”45

Prince continues to discuss differences of opinions regarding the John Birch Society.  The Society continued to make extreme statements–even calling former president Eisenhower a “tool of the Communists”.  Amazingly, Benson did not refute the statement.  From page 295,

Welch had recently published a book, The Politician, in which he accused Dwight Eisenhower of being a tool of the Communists:  “On January 20, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated as the thirty-fourth President of the United States.  He thus became, automatically and immediately, captain and quarterback of the free-world team, and in the fight against Communism.  In our firm opinion he had been planted in that position, by Communists for the purpose of throwing the game.”75 Asked if he agreed with Welch’s statement, Benson sidestepped the question, refused to defend Eisenhower, and stated merely that Eisenhower “supported me in matters of agriculture.  In other areas we had differences.”76

Say what?  This is mind boggling to me.  Democratic Mormon Congressman Ralph Harding from Idaho condemned Benson in Congress a few days later.  Harding supported the current Republican President Eisenhower.  Prince states that reactions to Harding’s comments were mixed.  President Eisenhower sent Harding an appreciative letter.  On page 297,

I am grateful for your letter and for the speech that you made in Congress concerning the support and encouragement that the former Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Benson, has allegedly been giving to a Mr. Welch, said to be the founder and leader of the John Birch Society.  Your honest and unselfish effort to set the record straight is something that warms my heart.

Frankly, because I rarely read such trash as I understand “The Politician” to be, I had never before read the specific accusations made against me by Robert Welch.  But it is good to know that when they were brought to your attention you disregarded all partisan influences to express your honest convictions about the matter.  It is indeed difficult to understand how a man, who professes himself to be an anti-Communist, can so brazenly accuse another–whose entire life’s record has been one of refutation of Communist theory, practice and purposes–of Communist tendencies or leanings.

With my best wishes and personal regard,

Dwight D. Eisenhower81

A year later, when L. Ralph Mecham escorted Ernest L. Wilkinson, then running fo the U.S. Senate, to meet with Eisenhower, the former president again brought up Benson’s actions.  Long afterward, Mecham recalled:

When I took Ernest Wilkinson up to Gettysburg to visit with Eisenhower, I believe in the spring of 1963, to get Eisenhower’s blessing for Wilkinson in his Senate campaign, Ike was almost wistful.  We had a great conversation about many things.  In the course of it he asked us quizzically, “Whatever happened to Ezra?” or something like that.  The implication was clear.  He could not understand, I believe, why a man to whom he had been so loyal had not reciprocated that loyalty but instead had adopted the extremist views of the John Birch Society.82

On page 298, Prince states,

Benson’s actions put McKay in a dilemma.  On the one hand, McKay was uncomfortable with the rising tide of criticism directed at Benson, both from church members and from national media.  On the other hand, McKay thought highly of Benson, prized his intense loyal support, and shared his deep visceral disdain for Communism.  While Benson’s tactics occasionally caused embarrassment and distress for McKay, neither man every questioned the goal.

Less than a month after the Robert Welch dinner McKay called Benson to preside over the European Mission, which meant that Benson would be out of the country (and out of the spotlight) for two years.  McKay gave Benson the news privately, and the accounts that both men left of the meeting show that it was upbeat, with no hint that Benson was being “punished” or “exiled.”

Regardless of McKay’s intent, however, the move was widely seen as a rebuff to Benson’s political activism, in spite of the fact that four other General Authorities–Mark E. Peterson, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion D. Hanks, and Alvin R. Dyer–had presided over missions in Europe within the previous three years.  The same day that McKay met with Benson, one of McKay’s sons expressed such a sentiment in a letter to Congressman Harding: “We shall all be relieved when Elder Benson ceases to resist counsel and returns to a concentration on those affairs befitting his office.  It is my feeling that there will be an immediate and noticeable curtailment of his Birch Society activities.”85 Two weeks later, Harding received a letter from Joseph Fielding Smith, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, that conveyed a similar message: “I think it is time for him and for the church and all concerned, if he would settle down to his present duties and let all political matters take their course.  He is going to take a mission to Europe in the near future and by the time he returns I hope he will get all the political notions out of his system.”86

Reaction in the press was mixed.  The church-owned Deseret News reported the story with a benign headline, “Elder Benson to Direct European Mission,” while the story ran in the Ogden Standard-Examiner under the provocative headline: “Apostle Benson Denies Being Sent into ‘Exile’ for Political Views.”87 The National Observer attempted a balanced perspective over the John Birch Society Campaign”:

The Benson connection with the John Birch Society has created somewhat of a “schism” in the Mormon Church.  To a few Mormons, Birch philosophies appear to coincide with church doctrine….But to others, especially those in the liberal Republican and Democratic ranks, the John Birch Society still meant political extremism, and they began asking for Ezra Taft’s scalp….When the elder Benson received his new assignment to Europe many of his critics said the Mormon Church was “shipping out Benson to get rid of him.”  But to this charge, the former Secretary of Agriculture declared: “Ridiculous–members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles are subject to call anywhere in the world at any time.  That’s our job, and I welcome the call with all my heart.”  President McKay, who called Mr. Benson on this mission also termed the charge ridiculous.  He, too, said the mission was a routine church assignment for a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.88

On the eve of his departure for Europe, Benson stirred up yet more controversy.  On December 13, he delivered a farewell speech in Logan, a third of which was either a direct quotation or paraphrase from Robert Welch’s manifesto, The Blue Book.  Particularly inflammatory was a direct quotation from The Blue Book, that was given wide publicity in a subsequent article by nationally syndicated columnist Drew Pearson.89 Benson charged that the United States government was so infiltrated with Communists that the American people “can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist Communist tyranny only be themselves becoming conspirators against established government.”90

Prince discusses even more dialogue supporting/excoriating Benson.  From page 302,

In May 1963, Louis Midgely, a faculty member in Brigham Young University’s Political Science Department, published a scalding article in the student newspaper that again fanned the flames of controversy:

I have been asked by the Editor at the Daily Universe to make some comments on the John Birch Society.  It is difficult to believe that anyone at a university–anyone who reads and thinks–would take such a movement seriously….The man who wrote The Politician did so to inform his followers that former President Eisenhower was a communist.  Of course he provides no evidence but the usual collection of garbage.  For absurdity, the charge against Ike would have to be placed next to the belief, as far as I know, held by no one, that President McKay is secretly Catholic.  What Welch-Birch really wants is to return to a world without taxes, the U.N., labor unions, racial minorities demanding some kind of legal equality; Birchers want a world without fluoridation, the Soviet Union, large cities and emerging nations and all the rest that goes with our world.”98

The most interesting part of the story of Benson was his foray into presidential politics, and the conundrum among the Brethren as to whether to support Benson or popular Michigan governor George Romney, father of Mitt Romney and brother-in-law to then current apostle Marion G. Romney.  I hadn’t realized that Benson might actually run for U.S. president.  From page 315,

McKay’s attention was deflected momentarily from the John Birch Society by another of Benson’s political initiatives: his proposed candidacy for U.S. president.  Months earlier, Benson had presented to McKay a rather nebulous plan whereby he and Senator Strom Thurmond would press the Republican Party for reforms, with the intent of forming a third party if they were not successful.  That plan, however, had not included presidential aspirations.  In mid-April 1966, Benson met with McKay and described  “The 1976 Committee,” to be composed of 100 prominent men from throughout the country, which proposed to nominate Benson for president and Thurmond for vice president.  McKay repeated his resistance to forming a third party, to which Benson replied that he also was “opposed to this, but this Committee and movement might result in a realignment between the two political parties.”  McKay responded “that this nation is rapidly moving down the road to soul-destroying socialism, and that I hoped and prayed that the efforts of the 1976 Committee would be successful in stemming the tide.”  He told Benson “to let them go ahead and wait and see what develops.”  Benson presented him with proposed statements that he and McKay might make if the committee moved as planned to propose his nomination, to which McKay agreed.  McKay’s statement ended with the words “his doing so has my full approval.”143

Benson’s bid for president of the United States ran out of momentum and was discontinued a year before the 1968 political conventions.  Still it placed McKay in the awkward position of trying to maintain political neutrality toward one Mormon presidential candidate who genuinely was a serious contender, Michigan Governor George Romney, while at the same time endorsing the candidacy of Benson, who was never regarded as a serious candidate.  A lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal noted the dilemma, pointing out that Benson “obtained from David McKay, the 92-year old prophet and president of the Mormon Church, an unpublished letter giving full approval to any campaign that Mr. Benson might make….’What Benson is doing could rend the church,’ says a Western governor, ‘and that would be bad for the West.'”143

…[from page 321]

Benson’s political activism diminished abruptly upon McKay’s death, for he lost his patron and protector.  McKay was succeeded by Joseph Fielding Smith and subsequently, Harold B. Lee, both of whom had strongly objected to Benson’s political activities during McKay’s presidency.  A comparison of Benson’s talks before and after McKay’s death attests tot he effectiveness in curtailing his political extremism.

I am sure that there are some ardent supporters of President Benson’s politics.  What do you make of his accusations about Martin Luther King and President Eisenhower being tools of the Communists?

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208 comments on “Benson, Eisenhower, and Communism

  1. Hamilton was a huge proponent for strong federal power, and a central bank.

  2. .

    Links from this thread to Gary’s blog:

    1-3. There are three links to Gary’s blog in Heretic’s original post above.

    4. Heretic’s comment (#6,p.4) contains another link to Gary’s blog.

    5. Gary’s comment (#2,p.1) contains a link to his current blog post titled, “To my blogging friend, Mormon Heretic.” It is Gary’s initial response to this thread, and it was posted on the same day as the above original post.

    6. Gary’s comment (#4,p.2) contains a link to Tara’s comment (#50,p.1) that he reprinted on his blog.

    7. Gary’s comment (#11,p.2) points Tara to where he had already responded to her request (#8,p.2).

    That are a total of seven links to Gary’s blog and Heretic posted four of them.

    Gary has posted three additional external links: One to LDS.org (#31,p.2) and three to articles Gary wrote that aren’t on his blog (#36,p.2; and #45,p.3).

    The censorship thing is getting old and tired, Heretic. What is tolerated on one blog doesn’t have to be tolerated on all blogs. End of discussion.

    Just because my words and links don’t answer questions to your satisfaction doesn’t mean I don’t answer questions. If you need more information, why not just ask for it?

    All these years I’ve been taking it on the chin over Benson’s conspiracy theories and John Birch support, and now you keep telling me that’s the “whitewashed” version of his politics?

    “Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18-25.)” (Ensign, Nov 1988, p.86.)

    That being true, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine how events like the World Trade Center, Pearl Harbor, Al Qaida etc might be manipulated to the fullest extent needed, if possible, by this increasingly powerful secret combination.

    But because I am not privy to the inner workings (or even the location and membership) of this group, I’m not going to be able to elaborate on the specifics regarding any one event. That doesn’t mean nobody else has. For example, there was some interesting information that I found and shared on my blog a few years ago about Pearl Harbor.

  3. My only question is who is the top dog(s) in the conspiracy?

    David Rockefeller (he’s only 95), assorted bankers (of course, Jewish), David Eisenhower (perhaps it passes down through families?) or, maybe, Queen Elizabeth?

    More importantly, how do I get in the group? I’m sure running the world pays pretty well . . and the travel benefits must be superb.

  4. R Gary,

    I did ask questions: Let me restate them.

    Was Pearl Harbor a US Conspiracy too with FDR to blame? FDR was not in your answer above. As for this conspiracy that you are “not privy to the inner workings (or even the location and membership) of this group”, how do you even know it exists? If it’s so secret, how do you know about it? What evidence do you have? Did you infiltrate it somehow?

    Did the US government collapse the World Trade Center? If you answered this question, I don’t see the answer.

    How about George Bush and Al Qaida? Is George Bush a tool of this secret group? Has Communism been integrated into Al Qaida somehow?

    If you think my complaining about censorship is old, maybe you should quit censoring comments, change your policy, or apologize for your dictatorial ways on your blog. You also ought to update your comment policy to be more accurate with what really happens. I’ve already given you my suggestion for accurate wording on your comment policy. Certainly I’m not the only one that has a problem with your censorship, but I probably have been the most vocal. Certainly you don’t let anyone vocalize disagreement on your blog, unless they are a fawn in your china shop. Welcome to a blog where people don’t view their ideas as quite so fragile that they’re compared to china.

    Oh, and R Gary, where did you publish Welch’s “throwing the game” comment on your blog or in any of your writings? (Links are welcome to back that quote up.) Where’s your quote of Benson saying the American people “can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist Communist tyranny only be themselves becoming conspirators against established government.”???

  5. Steve,

    More importantly, how do I get in the group? I’m sure running the world pays pretty well . . and the travel benefits must be superb.

    Spot on. I’d rather be a part of the group than constantly in fear of the group. Let me in too, please. 🙂

  6. The John Birch Society magazine has a story up on the Benson-Welch-Hoover story: http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/history/american/5207-benson-letter-backed-welch-against-ike

  7. Like I said (#44,p.3). I’m surprised that you continue to direct your wrath at me. Benson is in the title of your post, not me. He’s the prophet who testified a secret combination is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. His calling, and the time and place of his statement combine to give it a tremendous amount of credibility. Was Benson a false prophet?

  8. R Gary, you were the inspiration for this post when you shut me down this summer, so that’s why you’re getting my (to use your term) “wrath.” I just had quite a few other topics and the Prince book to finish, so that’s why I didn’t get to it sooner.

    No, Benson was not a false prophet; there are lots of better cases to be made for secret combinations such as drug cartels, the mafia, Al Qaida, gangs, the tobacco lobby, etc. I’ll even grant that there was some communist infiltration back in the 50’s and 60’s here in the U.S.

    But his turn on Eisenhower was APPALLING and he was dead wrong on that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Benson was a wonderful prophet, but his Communist rhetoric was off the mark. His failure to rebut attacks that Ike was “throwing the game” is an unpatriotic attack that is “demeaning its institutions” (to quote Hugh B. Brown) of the presidency of the United States, and a shameful episode. At least prophets Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and Spencer W. Kimball helped turn off the rhetoric. Were these 3 men false prophets? How about Hugh B Brown–was he a false apostle?

    I answered your question directly. Care to tackle mine in page 4 comment 20 above?

  9. A couple interesting quotes:

    On December 27th, 1963, in Logan, Benson claimed that the U.S. would be controlled within a decade by a communist dictatorship that would “include
    military occupation, concentration camps, tortures, terror and all that is required to enable about 3% of the population to rule the other 97% as slaves . . . .”

    That was the lead in to the quote MH has referenced (“The US Government is so controlled by Communists that citizens] can no longer resist the Communist conspiracy as free citizens, but can resist communist tyranny only by themselves becoming conspirators against established government.”).

    Haven’t seen the military occupation or concentration camps and a decade later would have been in 1973.

    Finally, a great quote by Hugh B. Brown:

    “All of us are one hundred percent against Communism in all its phases, but the leaders of the Church are not convinced that any conspiracy exists within our own country.”
    —- President Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor in the First Presidency, February 1965

  10. I’ve already answered all of your questions to my own personal satisfaction. Just like you’ve already answered all of my questions to your personal satisfaction.

    You are hiding behind a false dichotomy. Benson WAS Prophet when he testified:

    “a secret combination is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world.”

    That was NOT a politician speaking. That was The Prophet. He was interpreting canonized scripture, which has always been the Prophet’s prerogative.

    You’ve been complaining on this thread for six days now about anyone who thinks Eisenhower was influenced and controlled by a secret combination. We both know Benson was NOT talking about “drug cartels, the mafia, Al Qaida, gangs, the tobacco lobby, etc.”

    Was Benson a false Prophet?

  11. No Benson was not a false prophet. I’ve answered that to my satisfaction, so I guess we have nothing more to say if personal satisfaction is an acceptable answer. Really R Gary, our conversation is fruitless. Go back to your blog and censor whomever you want, and spout off whatever conspiracy theories you want. I won’t bother with you any more.

  12. Since neither President Hinckley or President Monson have talked about the conspiracy, is it possible it is now gone?

    Or, is it possible the reference was to Satan’s influence in the World? That interpretation has some weight because both Hinckley and Monson have spoken about those kind of influences.

  13. @Mormon Heretic
    Ok, you can play armchair quarterback. What exactly would you have done in Hungary?

    Well, first of all, I wouldn’t have encouraged resistance or revolt against communist oppression via Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America if we couldn’t do anything to help. Eisenhower spoke repeatedly of “liberation” and “rollback”, and many Hungarians took him seriously.

    Second, I would’ve at least attempted to air lift weapons and supplies. Plans for this contingency had been in place for years, but Eisenhower vetoed them.

    Why should I believe that Ike was wrong on Hungary?

    I didn’t say you should. I’m only giving my opinion. I’m not asking you to accept it.

    @Mormon Heretic
    Tara, with regards to Hitler, I suspect most “objective” histories are going to be scathing rebukes or fawning appraisals (Ahmadinajad). Certain people are a bit polarizing, and I’d put Skousen and Welch in that category.

    Wow. Skousen may be polarizing, but I have no doubt that he isn’t THAT polarizing. At least he shouldn’t be. He may have had some crazy ideas, but his ideas weren’t of the homicidal nature that Hitler’s and Ahmadinajad’s were. I think you should probably find some more appropriate examples for that little analogy.

    Welch said Ike was “throwing the game.” You said that was extreme. Benson backed Welch, not Ike. Isn’t Benson’s position extreme?

    Yes, Benson’s positions were extreme.

    Skousen supports the Birchers, as you have linked. If I were Skousen, I’d condemn the “throwing the game” comment in the strongest possible terms, not advocate for the Birchers. How would you react?

    How would I react to what?

    Do you feel that Benson was correct–that the citizens should have conspired against our own government?

    If I understood exactly what he meant by that, I might be able to tell you how I feel about it. Unfortunately, I don’t.

  14. in R Gary’s world, a prophet simply cannot be wrong, thus if a prophet is somehow wrong, he is a “false prophet.” I guess Brigham Young was a false prophet for installing the priesthood ban on blacks, eh, Gary? Or are you going to tell me that that was right?

  15. Tara,

    We’re finally starting to agree. Let me clarify my question. Welch said Ike was “throwing the game.” Skousen wrote in support of the Birchers. Would you write in support of the Birchers after the “throwing the game” comment?

    Do you still think the JBS group is a respectable group when their leader thought Ike was “throwing the game”?

    If the FBI files turn out correct, would that damage Skousen’s credibility with you? Do you need to personally go to FBI headquarters and examine the Skousen documents before you’d consider this as “objective” evidence? I mean what really does it take before it can be considered legitimate (or objective) and not a “personal attack”?

    Dan, please leave R Gary alone. I don’t want him hanging around any more.

    As for the airlift, so when the U.S. doesn’t get permission from neighboring countries to fly over their airspace to drop supplies to the Hungarians, and gets shot down by the Russians who mistake the airlift for an attack, why would that would still be a good idea? Did the airlift keep the Russians from seizing control of East Germany?

  16. @Steve
    * Founders opposition to a central bank. Where did you get that?

    Because of opposition among the founders, the proposal made at the convention to include a central bank among the delegated powers to the federal government was defeated. Whatever the actual breakdown in favor or opposition to a central bank, it was rejected.

    Washington went along with the idea.

    He did so hesitantly. It was only Hamilton’s view of implied powers that convinced
    Washington to sign the bill.

  17. @Mormon Heretic
    I think I’m done here. Your treatment of Gary has been very disturbing to me. You will allow Dan to name call, insult, and otherwise attack pretty much at will, but you will ask Gary to leave because he censors comments on his own blog? He’s been very respectful to you in his comments, and yet you want him to leave because he censors you? I’ve lost a lot of respect for you and I don’t know that I’ll be back.

  18. Tara,

    I had considered shutting down this post for bad behavior of many participants a few days ago. It looks like I let it go too long. When I first started my blog, my posts on politics were my least popular. Strangely, they have generated the most comments of late.

    Perhaps I should leave political discourse alone, because it does seem to bring out the worst in us. Nearly everyone here has exhibited poor behavior on at least one of my 3 most recent political posts. All of us have been a bit overzealous here–no one party is immune from blame for poor behavior. I think I’ll take a break from politics for at least a few months. If you choose not to come back, I’ll understand, but I think there is plenty of blame to be shared. I’m sorry for my part.

    Maybe we should all walk arm in arm around the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and the Temple Beth Shalom, like the rabbi and the priest in my newest post. Any takers?

  19. Maybe Benson was referring to Islam when he spoke of secret combinations spreading across the globe.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  20. @Mormon Heretic
    I’m not talking about sarcasm or rudeness, or whatever you mean by bad behavior, MH. I don’t have much problem with that, so long as it isn’t allowed to get out of hand, and I don’t think that it has here. I’m talking about a terrible standard you have set.

    I didn’t have a big problem when you asked Dan to stop with the name-calling on the post about the Islamic center and he continued to do it anyway. I thought it showed that you really weren’t intent on enforcing what you said, and I thought it showed a severe lack of respect from Dan when he completely ignored your request. But this is your blog and it is your choice to run things how you see fit.

    But then you started in on Gary because he runs his blog how he’s sees fit. The way I see it, you don’t have to like or agree with how he chooses to run his blog. But it is his right and privilege to set his own rules, and to interpret those rules, even if you disagree with how he interprets them. I didn’t mind it when you were just making note of the fact here that he was censoring your comments there and that you disagreed with that policy. No problem there. But I did have a problem when you started acting juvenile and calling names and ascribing sinister motives to his censorship. I don’t care what you were posting and how nicely you said it. I disagreed with how you handled it.

    I honestly didn’t expect Gary to engage you any further in the discussion and I wouldn’t have blamed him for that decision either. But I thought it was very nice that he did. All of his comments seemed very respectful in their tone. But because he wasn’t spelling out his views in the amount of detail you expected, you started hammering on him again. It is not his duty to share all of his views publicly, particularly if he feels that they will be ridiculed. And deny it if you want, but that is exactly what would’ve happened. I could see it coming from a mile away, and it wouldn’t have mattered how good Gary’s defense of his positions were. There are things that people just don’t see eye to eye on, just like some of the subjects you and I have disagreed on in the past, no matter how good people’s reasons are for holding those views.

    So then you told Gary to go back to his blog. I almost said something then and decided against it. But then you told Dan to leave him alone because you didn’t want him around here anymore. Well that was all I could take. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was Dan you said that to or the fact that Gary wasn’t welcome here anymore. Maybe a combination of the two. I can’t help but wonder, if you didn’t agree so much with Dan’s politics if you wouldn’t be a little more unwelcoming of him because of his contentiousness. It’s nothing I can prove, of course, but after this, it just makes me wonder. You disagree with Gary’s censorship of you, his views, and the caution he uses in revealing his views, regardless of his respectful behavior, so he becomes unwelcome here. On the other hand, you ask Dan to stop name-calling, he ignores you, you agree with his views, without regard for his contentious behavior or lack of respect for your request, and he remains welcome here. If you were to be truly consistent, then Gary would continue to be welcome here, without all the harassment you’ve heaped upon him.

    I don’t claim to be an angel here, and I am certainly no “fawn” in any china shop, though I appreciate Gary’s kindness. But I hope you will step back and look at what you’ve done here. You have not lived up to the freedom you espouse. You have been as much a dictator as you accuse Gary of being. But while Gary has been a gentle dictator, you’ve been a thuggish one. I would prefer a gentle dictator over a thuggish one any day. I would’ve preferred to see you just censor out everything that Gary tried to post here than to have witnessed what I saw. This standard just isn’t right, and I won’t support it.

  21. @Bishop Rick
    Bigot.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  22. Tara, this post has been contentious. You’re welcome to your position. I’m no angel either. R Gary would have shut it down long ago. You have a greater tolerance for censorship than I do.

    A “gentle dictator” is a thug. I doubt you’d want to live in a government with a gentle dictator–I think you’d call that socialism on the way to communism.

    Perhaps R Gary and I are both thugs with different modes of operation. I guess I’ll have to plead guilty as charged. But I’m more interested in living in a chaotic democracy than a gentle dictatorship. (I think the founding fathers preferred chaotic democracy to muzzled monarchy.) Democracy has certain rules, such as avoiding censorship and respect for opposing opinions. I think I’m living up to those ideals.

    I don’t like living with a muzzle. I guess it is more tolerable for you. The door is open to R Gary if he wants to participate in a respectful way (read no muzzles, no dismissing others), but I don’t view censorship as respectful in any way. I don’t react well to attempts to control the conversation by ignoring hard questions. When someone acts disrespectful to me, I don’t react well. Even if he didn’t use sarcasm or rudeness, he was disrespectful. I don’t know how else to respond.

    You think censorship is acceptable and not disrespectful. I think censorship is not only unacceptable, but disrespectful, thuggish, and dictatorial. I don’t think I’ve been dictatorial in asking him to leave. He can stay and respond in a respectful way, but to date I haven’t found his responses respectful–they’ve been dismissive (disrespectful).

    So Tara, since you and I have different views on whether censorship is a legitimate tactic, what other ways can I acceptably counteract disrespect? (I’m really surprised that you don’t have a problem with sarcasm and rudeness.)

    And oh by the way Dan, you have been obnoxious. I’d encourage you to be a little more tactful in your disagreement.

  23. @Mormon Heretic
    I didn’t say this post hasn’t been contentious. I’m just saying that I haven’t felt it to be out of control. And you probably would’ve been right to shut it down a long time ago too, even if I disagreed with the decision to do so. But I think Gary probably had enough foresight to know that it was the right time to shut down discussion on his blog so that it didn’t turn into this. If the questions you asked him here are any indications of what you asked him there, it was probably evident to him where the discussion was going. Your questions have been very provocative and of the nature that would lead to a contentious discussion. You may have asked the questions in a very nice and calm manner, but they would’ve still been of a provocative nature.

    Okay, we aren’t talking about the ideal government here. You may have had a gentle democracy here, but once you started ranting about Gary’s censorship and taunting him to respond, interpreting what it meant if he failed to respond, then threaten to put his comments in spam if he kept posting links as answers because you weren’t getting the answers you wanted out of them, then telling him to go home because he wasn’t welcome here anymore, it became a thuggish dictatorship. But no, not all dictators are thugs. Have you never heard of a benevolent dictatorship? Well, here is a description:

    Benevolent dictatorship is a form of dictatorship in which an authoritarian leader exercises political power in an allegedly constructive and non-tyrannical way. A benevolent dictator may allow for some aspects of liberal democracy to exist, such as certain constitutional restraints or referendums on specific issues. As it is, by definition, a dictatorship, general elections either do not exist or are arranged to have a predecided outcome. There is a subjective element to the term, as there is disagreement on what constitutes benevolence, as there is disagreement on the actual intents and outcomes of specific dictatorships, and as no dictatorship defines itself as malicious.

    An example of an allegedly benevolent dictatorship could be that of the former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who was described as a benevolent dictator by Donella Meadows. Alistair Cooke described Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency in the two years from his inauguration to Supreme Court’s declaration that the National Recovery Administration was unconstitutional, as a benevolent dictatorship.

    As a parent, I’d like to think that I help run a benevolent dictatorship.

    But you don’t live with a muzzle. You have your own blog to express yourself and you set the rules and you say what you want. But you don’t have the right to go set up camp in Gary’s front yard and hold a protest march if he doesn’t want you to. If you don’t mind Gary doing that in your yard, that’s great. Just don’t complain that your rights are being taken away.

    It’s not a matter of me being more tolerant of censorship. My views on censorship have no bearing here. It’s about recognizing a person’s freedom to set the rules of what will or will not be allowed on their own private property. Now if that same person wants to go and start making the rules for everyone else’s property, that’s when I’ll have a really big problem, and that’s what I see here. A lack of respect for Gary’s rights. Complaining that you don’t like his rules is fine, but bullying him over it isn’t.

    This is not comparable to a government allowing or not allowing free POLITICAL speech, which is what the freedom of speech is all about. Protecting the rights of citizens to speak out against their own government. It is meant to protect us from our government. Free speech in the sense of personal blogs offers us no such protection and is not crucial to maintain, because we have the freedom to make our voices heard elsewhere.

    You may feel that Gary has been dismissive of your questions. But it seems that he feels he has answered your questions. I’m comfortable saying that he’s probably being guarded and not entirely candid, but I don’t consider that to be dismissive. It seems clear to me that he’s taken a lot of flak over his views and is only trying to avoid further ridicule. I can understand that and I would hope you would try to too instead of assuming that he’s being dismissive (disrespectful).

    I respect your right to be as lenient or as strict as you choose. Whichever you choose, I only want to see those rules applied fairly to all people. I hope that you will set the example and the tone because you are, in essence, the leader here. Because of that, I think I expect more out of you. But I don’t see any alternative to counter disrespect other than censorship. That is your only power here. If you want to maintain any level of respect, you will have to censor. But you can’t make rules without enforcing them. They are only suggestions if you don’t enforce them.

    I’m not saying I don’t have a problem with sarcasm and rudeness, but when I am as guilty as anyone else, then I really have no room to complain, do I?

  24. Tara, you stated:
    “I can’t help but wonder, if you didn’t agree so much with Dan’s politics if you wouldn’t be a little more unwelcoming of him because of his contentiousness.”

    I hope you see the irony in that statement. Kettle, meet pot.

    I like the fact that this is a bit of a public forum, and people are allowed to post here no matter how far-fetched and extremist their ideas are (on either side). It’s a much more welcoming arena than forums where half the posts never make it past the moderator. And those actually searching for truth have a much easier time finding it when almost anyone who disagrees with the moderator isn’t shut down immediately.

    It would be nice, however, if more moderate voices would make their way here. I feel like the main contributors to this thread represent the extreme ends of the political/religious spectrum (the ultra-liberal vs. the “the prophet said no one would ever walk on the moon so the moon landing was a farce” group).

  25. Tara: Heretic has already said I can come back if I’m respectful. But I must say that your comments have given me courage. Thank you!

    Heretic: If dismissing others is in the same category as censorship and muzzles (#39 above), I have a question. Why did you completely ignore and dismiss my comment about Greg Prince?

    There are 3200 words in your original post, 2400 of them quoted from Greg Prince. That’s 75 percent of your original post that was not written by you. Three fourths of your post is quoted from Greg Prince.

    Here’s part of my earlier comment:

    There is a lot of material around that is critical of Ezra Taft Benson. I’ve purchased and read a lot of it myself, including Quinn’s Dialogue article and, more recently, relevant sections of Greg Prince’s McKay biography. But I’ve also read all of [Benson’s] Church books and all of his general conference talks.

    Based on my reading and your writing, I fear your opinions are based primarily on the opinions of others.

    Greg Prince is particularly notorious for creating a misleading picture by leaving out parts of the story. For the past five years, I’ve spent many hours off and on researching just four pages of that 500 page book. Click here to see what I found out.

    Yes, that comment contains one of the dreadful links you so loudly condemned. “Self promoting,” I think you called them (#6,p.4). In my opinion, that was redirection, a way of dismissing the issue I raised about your post relying so heavily on Greg Prince.

    May I (respectfully) ask, please, that you now follow that link and carefully read the article? Then tell us why we should all accept at face value your quotes from Greg Prince about Ezra Taft Benson.

  26. @Tim
    I hope you see the irony in that statement. Kettle, meet pot.

    I’m afraid that I’m not seeing the irony. Perhaps you’d elaborate. If you perceive from my statement that I think MH should be more unwelcoming to Dan, then you would be missing the point. I’m only pointing out what appears to be a double standard. I’m fine with MH allowing Dan to remain here, insults and all, regardless of how much I dislike Dan as a commenter here. I’m not encouraging MH to get rid of him. The problem I have is with him being so lenient with Dan, yet so demanding of Gary to meet his expectations.

    Maybe I’m still missing the point though.

    It would be nice, however, if more moderate voices would make their way here. I feel like the main contributors to this thread represent the extreme ends of the political/religious spectrum

    Then perhaps you could fill that void, Tim.

  27. Tara,

    hey I’m not the one espousing ridiculous conspiracy theories. Say reasonable things, and you’ll get reasonable replies. Say ridiculous things, and you’ll, well, get ridiculed. Frankly I think you’re “working the ref” right now, Tara, because you’re so angry at failing to win the debate with me. I’m working backwards now at all my comments on this post to see where I “name-called” you.

    On page 3 #25, I wrote:

    That’s not a fact. That’s an opinion. Tara, you really do need to read up on history from liberal sources. Your conservative sources are secretly eating your brain cells.

    On page 3 #36, I wrote:

    You’re like a babe in this world, Tara. How little you seem to know about right-wing groups.

    That’s it. No other comment had anything close to a derogatory word against you. It seems your anger and frustration are not because I name-called you, but because I denounced Skousen’s silly conspiracies so strongly.

  28. Tim,

    It would be nice, however, if more moderate voices would make their way here. I feel like the main contributors to this thread represent the extreme ends of the political/religious spectrum

    I’m actually a moderate. I’ve not moved my spot. Republicans/conservatives have shifted hard to the right. To say that the “moderate” position ought to move to the right in order to stay at the half way point between the utter extremism on the right and that on the left is ludicrous. I will strongly denounce Skousen types because they are destructive to our nation. And I will denounce that as a moderate.

    Let’s see if this visual representation works

    Normal:
    Liberal__________Moderate__________Conservative
    -100————–0————–100

    Today
    Liberal__________Moderate____________________Conservative
    -100————–0———————–130

    You think it should be like this?
    Liberal_________________Moderate______________Conservative
    -100——————-15—————–130

    That would imply that the “moderate position” is closer to the original conservative position. Do you see the problem with that?

  29. bah, darn autocorrect. the 0 should be under Moderate, and the 100/130 should be under Conservative.

  30. Dan, name-calling is not the only thing you do that is offensive. You did a lot of name-calling in the post about the Islamic center directed at Bishop Rick, FireTag, and me. That fact has not escaped me and contributes to my entire characterization of you. Here, you have primarily limited your name-calling to the public figures we’ve been discussing. While there may not seem to be anything wrong with that in your opinion, what you are doing is ridiculing Gary and me in the process. Your statements pretty much confirm that you are doing this, which makes it all the worse. The fact that we give any deference to these men who you so vehemently disagree with, regardless of how little that deference may be, makes us deserving of the same scorn they receive. You take little thought to people’s heart or intentions, because you assume that anyone’s ideas that depart radically from yours are automatically borne of evil or pure ignorance. You obviously do not follow your own advice: One thing you should learn from this life, Tara, is that the vast majority of people in this world are actually good people, and reasonable, rational people. Does this only apply to people whose ideas are not radically different from yours?

    You express yourself with a great deal of hostility and intolerance for the opinions of others when they differ much from yours. You outright ridicule the beliefs and opinions of others. You come across as very sarcastic, rude, irreverent, and arrogant. If you don’t care, that’s fine. I will continue to harbor the same unfavorable opinion of you. You may not care about that either. But if you do care and are willing to change how you treat people and their views which differ radically from yours, then I can certainly change my opinion of you.

    Below, I’ve selected the comments you’ve made that I find to be offensive. I’ve included my own commentary in bold.

    Mischaracterizations and/or reading people’s minds:

    Are you falling for this because Soros is liberal and you hate liberals? I don’t hate liberals and have said as much

    But you’ve made blanket judgments of him because he’s liberal, Tara. (This was in response to a statement where I said that I didn’t feel like I knew enough to make a blanket judgement.)

    ah, Alex Jones. Modern equivalent of Robert Welch. Tara, why do you think someone like Alex Jones has anything of value to say? (Just plain not paying attention, so my words were misconstrued to mean something that they didn’t.)

    in R Gary’s world, a prophet simply cannot be wrong, thus if a prophet is somehow wrong, he is a “false prophet.” I guess Brigham Young was a false prophet for installing the priesthood ban on blacks, eh, Gary? Or are you going to tell me that that was right?

    Name-calling, mocking, attacking, and ascribing ill-intent to others, all with an absence of any objectivity on Dan’s part:

    Like Glenn Beck. You’re just raising questions. No harm. Does Obama hate white people? I don’t know. I’m just asking. Are progressives a cancer to American society? I don’t know. I’m just raising questions. Are American liberals secret communist/Nazi/fascists? I don’t know. I’m just raising questions. (In response to my sincerely asking questions)

    There is no merit to what he has to say. Glenn Beck twists reality, Tara. He deserves our harshest scorn. He deserves to be ignominiously whipped in public and banished from our public discourse. That’s what he deserves.

    See, I agree with Steve, even though I know he doesn’t agree with liberals generally. That’s because he gives absolutely no weight to an idiot like Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is not sincere. He’s not good at heart. He’s a charlatan. He’s a liar. He’s a deceiver. There is little good about him. He gives Mormonism a black eye just like Cleon Skousen. I may agree with you on some things, Tara, but you give too much deference to conspiracy theorists for my trust.

    Um, no. We don’t have enough words to thoroughly attack the depravity of the John Birch Society which has found a new home in today’s tea party fools.

    Honestly, allowing someone like Ezra Taft Benson to become prophet does not make me trust church leadership very much. There’s something about his words being so ridiculous that smacks in the face of the whole “glory of God is intelligence” belief in our church.

    He ought to be vilified within the LDS and non-LDS community because he was a power-hungry charlatan belonging to a secret combination (because the John Birch Society fits their own definition of a secret combination to a T, and of course the later Council for National Policy, begun by Tim LaHaye (best known for his Left Behind books), which is one of the ultra secret groups in America. You want secret combinations, Tara? The right-wing is bulging with them. FreedomWorks. Secret Combination. You pick any of the groups that are anonymously funding attacks on Democrats in this last election (and to come in 2012) and they would fit the definition of secret combinations. They are organizations which do not divulge who is behind the money. They meet in secret, and they plot in secret. The left has got nothing on the secrecy of those on the right.

    Every book of his is a piece of crap. He’s a charlatan, Tara. Do you know what that word means? The wikipedia on it is spot on.

    That’s Cleon Skousen to a T. That’s Glenn Beck to a T. They are swindlers. They are liars. They ought not to be trusted by anyone with any reasonable cells in their brains.

    That’s because you side with silly conspiracy theorists, and I find it laughable that anyone intelligent even bothers with them.

    No worries. I fought with Connor Boyback and his conspiracy theory group on this issue and it gets tiring that this crap is even taken seriously by God fearing Mormons.

    Gary,
    Gary said: I think such comments are just cheap, dishonest blogging tricks. Sort of like walking proudly down the street with one’s head held high while wearing the emperor’s new clothes.

    yeah, if we just willed ourselves to victory we could have conquered the world.

    heh, yeah, Reagan willed us to victory, unlike that silly supreme commander
    Eisenhower who just lacked the will of a TV actor.

    Prove me wrong. Show me that you don’t side with Skousen’s utterly ridiculous conspiracy theories. Otherwise your points are utterly laughable.

    What made it a joke is that Skousen was someone who acted and spoke as if he himself had never been exposed to the primary sources. That’s what the joke is.

  31. The following should’ve been deleted from my last post:

    Gary,
    Gary said: I think such comments are just cheap, dishonest blogging tricks. Sort of like walking proudly down the street with one’s head held high while wearing the emperor’s new clothes.

    However, this one should’ve been included with the description of ridicule and misapplying the intentions of others:

    hey I’m not the one espousing ridiculous conspiracy theories. Say reasonable things, and you’ll get reasonable replies. Say ridiculous things, and you’ll, well, get ridiculed. Frankly I think you’re “working the ref” right now, Tara, because you’re so angry at failing to win the debate with me.

  32. Tara, I think your treatment of R. Gary is similar to MH’s treatment of Dan–you put up with his behavior because you agree with his politics. That’s all I meant with the pot/kettle thing.

    Dan, I don’t think you’re an extremist for country or world politics. I do think that you take an extreme position for LDS members in your approach to President Benson. However, I don’t think it’s any more extreme than R. Gary’s approach.

  33. @Tim
    My defense of Gary has absolutely nothing to do with politics. When I began defending Gary, I knew nothing about him other than what I was able to glean after a very brief perusal of his blog to see what the fuss was all about. I failed to see a reason to warrant the harsh treatment of him, regardless of whether or not I agreed with his views.

    But what I did see was someone who, regardless of what criticisms were lodged at him, would not respond in kind. That is largely why I’ve defended him. I can respect someone who is principled in that way. I’d like to think I would’ve done the same for Dan if I felt like he were being treated unfairly and was either unwilling or unable to defend himself. As it is, Dan has no trouble defending himself or responding in kind. Now, if Gary had decided to respond in kind, I would’ve felt no need to defend him except to the extent that it meant defending my own views on the subject. And I would still come down on the side of it being Gary’s right to make the rules on his own blog.

  34. Tara,

    Dan, name-calling is not the only thing you do that is offensive. You did a lot of name-calling in the post about the Islamic center directed at Bishop Rick, FireTag, and me.

    You can’t use a previous post as an example of name-calling in this post!

    You obviously do not follow your own advice: One thing you should learn from this life, Tara, is that the vast majority of people in this world are actually good people, and reasonable, rational people. Does this only apply to people whose ideas are not radically different from yours?

    Actually I do take that to heart. Consider Steve, whose comments have been rational, but who apparently disagrees with my political positions and worldview. But generally yes, this principle applies to people whose ideas are not radically different than mine. There’s a reason the word “radical” has a negative connotation to it, Tara. It’s because radical views ought not to be taken seriously. If someone makes a charge that Dwight Eisenhower was a communist tool, and offers little substantive evidence, I will ridicule that person because the position that person takes is radical, dumb, and most importantly, lacking reasonable or rational evidence to back up that position. If someone makes a charge that George Bush is like Hitler, I’d ridicule the person in the same fashion, unless there is credible evidence to back up such assertion (and there isn’t). There ought to be a consequence for the positions we take in life, Tara. You are free to say whatever your heart desires, but there is no freedom to escape the consequences of the positions you take. For example, I am not free of the consequences of calling Brigham Young a racist, or Ezra Taft Benson a fool. The consequences of taking those positions are upon me whether I like it or not. But I am free to make them.

  35. Dan
    “You can’t use a previous post as an example of name-calling in this post!”

    Why not? She is establishing a pattern that started in that post and continues in this one.
    Bottom line, there are many people in this post that disagree with Tara, but you are the only one that is doing so in a demeaning manner. You bring on all vitriol aimed at you, and there’s no need. It’s not hard to disagree without an attempt at humiliation.
    Many people have pointed this out to you, but you choose to ignore it.
    You are alienating others that might agree with you on some topics and disagree on others, but instead just choose to ignore you, not taking you serious. You make many good points, but they are usually wrapped in sarcasm.

  36. I’m guessing we’re done talking about Benson, Eisenhower and Communism. I think, Mormon Heretic, that you ought to change the title of this post from about 10 or so comments ago onwards as “How Dan Alienates Conspiracy Theorist Lovers.” 🙂

  37. @Dan
    But generally yes, this principle applies to people whose ideas are not radically different than mine.

    If it’s only a general principle for you with selective application, then you can’t take it very seriously, making it virtually meaningless. You don’t even know me, but you would judge me as bad simply because my views are so much different than yours. That isn’t the charitable view that you suggest I follow.

    There ought to be a consequence for the positions we take in life, Tara.

    Why? Why should thoughts, beliefs, or ideas have consequences? Since when are thoughts or beliefs or ideas crimes that need to be punished? As disturbing as that is, you’ve set yourself up as the judge, jury, and executioner of the crime and the consequence. I knew you had a superiority complex, but I had no idea that you felt it your moral obligation to be the thought police.

    “How Dan Alienates Conspiracy Theorist Lovers.”

    Sorry to burst your bubble, Dan, but this isn’t all about you.

  38. Tara,

    If it’s only a general principle for you with selective application, then you can’t take it very seriously, making it virtually meaningless.

    If you look back at the phrase in question, I never said all people are good. Just the vast majority are good. Skousen and Benson and Welch and Beck would be in the “not so good, to down right bad” group.

    Why? Why should thoughts, beliefs, or ideas have consequences? Since when are thoughts or beliefs or ideas crimes that need to be punished?

    Um, because Jesus said so, Tara.

    I knew you had a superiority complex, but I had no idea that you felt it your moral obligation to be the thought police.

    Um, and you wonder why I ridicule you.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, Dan, but this isn’t all about you.

    Um, hate to brake this to you, but what is the current subject we’re talking about? I certainly didn’t start this.

  39. Tim, welcome. We could use some moderates around here, (even though we all think we’re moderates.) I hope you feel welcome, and feel free to jump into the fray.

    Wow, a lot of comments since this morning. Sorry for not responding sooner. When the comments get this long, it is very hard to post comments from my phone and I try not to comment from work. Anybody know a better mobile phone plugin for posting comments?

    Tara, in light of your great opposition to socialism, I find your comments about a benevolent dictator highly paradoxical. Quoting from your definition,

    “there is disagreement on what constitutes benevolence, as there is disagreement on the actual intents and outcomes of specific dictatorships, and as no dictatorship defines itself as malicious.”

    In other words, what one dictator views as benevolent, his subjects may view as tyranny.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency in the two years from his inauguration to Supreme Court’s declaration that the National Recovery Administration was unconstitutional, [w]as a benevolent dictatorship.

    Now I added a “w” to make it grammatically correct, since I’ve learned your a stickler for grammar now. 😉 What’s interesting about this statement is the fact that President McKay thought FDR turned the country to socialism. With the CCC, New Deal, etc., a strong case can be made that FDR was a bit of a socialist. Consecration and Church welfare are forms of socialism too, but “benevolent” socialism. Anyway, Prince outlines that McKay was ecstatic that Eisenhower was elected because McKay felt that Eisenhower would return the country back to capitalism. So your example of FDR (or rather your quoted definition) is highly ironic. McKay certainly didn’t view FDR as a benevolent dictator, but rather as a near socialist.

    As a parent, I’d like to think that I help run a benevolent dictatorship.

    Ok, great, I don’t have a problem with that. But when R Gary treats adults like they are the children on his blog and represents himself as “father knows best”, or when he comes here and doesn’t feel the need to justify his positions because “I said so”, then I have a problem with that. It doesn’t seem gentle or benevolent. It seems tyrannical and contradictory for such an avowed communist/socialist hater to be tyrannical. R Gary doesn’t practice what he preaches, and embraces the communist evils of censorship. (And no, I don’t think R Gary is a mass murderer, so don’t go overboard with the analogy.)

    Except for my political posts (or when Tara disagrees with me on racism) 😉 , for the most part I think it’s a nice, open environment here. When we do turn to politics, I think there can be sharp disagreements here, just as there have been throughout the history of America (3/5 Compromise, strong/weak federal government, etc.) Nobody has been severely caned like happened in Congress, so surely we aren’t that raucous. Yes, it can be contentious, but I think the founders ideas of free expression can be found here–that’s not the case on R Gary’s blog.

    R Gary claims to support the founding fathers, and wants freedom. He despises Communism. His blog should be run with those principles in mind, IMO, or he’s not practicing what he preaches. Censorship runs counter to the freedom that he thinks Ezra Taft Benson supports. Communists support censorship (ever heard of Pravda?) He uses the same tactics (censorship) of the Communism he so strongly despises. He hides behind the laudable goal of not wanting contention, but quashes dissent by censorship. If you think my tyrannical comparison is exaggeration, perhaps so, but, I hope you will at least agree that his behavior is unrighteous dominion and certainly shouldn’t be encouraged.

    Despite your advice, I’m not going to censor comments here, but I will ask people to leave as necessary. Tara, I do agree with Tim–I do think you put up with R Gary because you’re on the same side. You note that his blog was free from contention. Ok great. But let me give you some stats (from memory–obviously, I don’t have access to check.) In his first post that I commented on, he censored 2 of my 4 comments–50%! No wonder there’s no contention. Then in the second post, he censored 1 of 3, and then told me what I think “Now, by your measure, that makes Ezra Taft Benson a tool of the adversary.” Never did I say such a thing, or think such a thing. He’s putting words in my mouth, and I have no ability to defend myself. I note that R Gary has made at least 25 comments with 0 censored. Who’s the more benevolent one based on these numbers?

  40. R Gary,

    I still feel a bit dismissed. Whether it was intentional or not, I won’t assign a sinister motive. But I would like to feel like we’re on a bit more of a level playing field. So I’ll make you a deal. If you make a good faith effort to answer my questions on page 4, comments 20 and 21, I promise I’ll read your link and answer your questions on page 4 comment 42.

    As a good faith effort, I will give you a partial answer now to your question on page 4 comment 42. I’m pretty sure you don’t follow my blog very often. If you did, you would know that many of my posts are book, podcast, or documentary movie reviews. For example, I did a 5 part series on Sidney Rigdon, and all those quotes were from Richard Van Wagoner. I did about a 5 part series on a book by John Hamer’s book “Scattering of the Saints.” This is the 3rd post I’ve done on Greg Prince’s book about David O McKay, and I’ll probably do a few more. Since it is a book review, I’m going to quote the author and give my impressions. That’s why 3/4 of the words come from Prince. You should notice similar percentages in my other book reviews too–I quote the authors quite a bit when I review their books. Sometimes I do a post on more than 1 book, but it’s definitely not the norm. For example, my “Debunking the Spalding Theory” post quoted both Van Wagoner’s book and Fawn Brodie’s book, but those types of posts take quite a bit of time and effort, and it’s not always easy to line up 2 books for 1 post. (And Tara, I think you’d really like my Spalding Theory post for when you encounter real anti-mormons. Too bad you didn’t comment there, because I think that’s a post you and I would have definitely been on the same side.)

    One other thing I want to mention Tara, and then I hope we can get away from interpersonal communications and back to the topic at hand. You, Dan, FireTag, Bishop Rick, and Faithful Dissident have been on my blog for a while now. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt more than a newcomer who comes in disrespectful. Perhaps I am guilty of a double standard in that I let the people who I have a bit of history with get away with a bit more than a newcomer like R Gary, or Sxark, or BOMC. But having said that, most newcomers are pretty respectful and I try to make them feel welcome. It is pretty rare that I ask someone to leave, and even when I do, I have always left the door open like I did with R Gary.]]>

  41. Wow. That was a bit of an exchange.

    Perhaps time to move back to the original topic . .

    I’ve been on the road for a couple days and I had a couple thoughts:

    * On the Eisenhower topic, I am struck by the lack of credibility given to Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, and J. Edgar Hoover’s opposition to the claim that Eisenhower was a Communist agent and/or dupe. All three had impeccable conservative credentials yet all three were horrified by the claim. Why aren’t they given weight?

    * With Skousen, I’ve always been trouble with his factual errors. But, I now think his faking of his FBI record as the most relevant criticism. Apparently some feel otherwise. Given that his original expert status derived from his representation of his FBI background, wouldn’t the discovery that it was simply untrue make him not credible?

  42. MH, thanks for the welcome.

  43. @Dan
    If you look back at the phrase in question, I never said all people are good. Just the vast majority are good. Skousen and Benson and Welch and Beck would be in the “not so good, to down right bad” group.

    Yes, that was very clear to me. But when you made the statement originally, Eisenhower was the topic. You were trying to convince me that most people are good people, which would’ve included Eisenhower. So what you were doing is saying that we should give people the benefit of the doubt, because most people really are good and reasonable. If we start laying down criteria for who we are going to include in this “most people are good” category, then we really aren’t being true to the general premise. That means I can use my own subjective reasoning to say that I think anyone whose views are radically different from mine are generally “not so good, to down right bad.” So, I could include you in my list, correct?

    Um, because Jesus said so, Tara.

    But it is not man’s job to judge another man by his thoughts, much less to punish him for them, and thoughts are not a crime in this country.

    @Mormon Heretic
    Tara, in light of your great opposition to socialism, I find your comments about a benevolent dictator highly paradoxical. Quoting from your definition,

    Let’s not cloud the issue here, MH. Please try to understand what I was saying without reading a whole lot more than necessary into it.

    Now I added a “w” to make it grammatically correct, since I’ve learned your a stickler for grammar now. 😉

    It was correct as written. Now it’s messed up once you put the rest of the sentence on the front of it.

    So your example of FDR (or rather your quoted definition) is highly ironic. McKay certainly didn’t view FDR as a benevolent dictator, but rather as a near socialist.

    Why are we talking about this? I wasn’t trying to make a point about any particular president or dictator. I couldn’t care less at this point. You were the one who started with the whole dictator thing, and I used your description to say that if Gary’s a dictator, well then he’s a gentle one and you’re a tyrannical one. That’s it. I wasn’t trying to equate those characterizations to describe the ideal form of government. I was only saying that while both may be bad, one is worse than the other. Was it really that difficult to get my point or are you just being difficult?

    It seems tyrannical and contradictory for such an avowed communist/socialist hater to be tyrannical.

    But you are creating a false equivalence here between one’s personal blog and a nation’s government.

    Censorship is not communist. We use censorship every day in our lives with what we permit ourselves or our children to consume through media or other sources. You could even say that our own government engages in censorship in order to maintain the standards of decency. The right to free speech is not absolute in any country, not even ours. Every country decides what will or will not be allowed as free speech. As an example, our country does not allow hate speech. So you see, the right of free speech is not an unlimited right.

    You have set limits in the past on how much free speech you will allow when you shut down discussion on a particular topic. Gary also limits how much free speech will be allowed on his blog as well. You allow contentious discussions to go on for a long time. Gary nips it in the bud early in order to prevent contention. He prefers order. You prefer chaos. Neither are wrong in and of themselves. It is a matter of personal choice and is part of the beauty of freedom that we are able to make those kinds of choices.

    So Gary is not being a dictator any more than you are being a dictator. You are both using the freedom you’ve been given to turn your personal blogs into space that is pleasing to you. But you would have Gary turn his blog into something that doesn’t please him because you think that is the right way to run a blog. That is your right to believe that, but it isn’t right to try to make him share your views on the issue.

    I hope you will at least agree that his behavior is unrighteous dominion and certainly shouldn’t be encouraged.

    There is no equivalence between his actions and that of unrighteous dominion. He is not manipulating you. He has no real power over you.

    Tara, I do agree with Tim–I do think you put up with R Gary because you’re on the same side.

    Then you don’t know me very well, and you are questioning my integrity, as I have already disputed that idea.

    Then in the second post, he censored 1 of 3, and then told me what I think “Now, by your measure, that makes Ezra Taft Benson a tool of the adversary.” Never did I say such a thing, or think such a thing. He’s putting words in my mouth, and I have no ability to defend myself.

    I don’t know how all of that went down, but if he censored a comment and then commented on a comment he censored, I disagree strongly with that. That would be inappropriate. If he put words in your mouth and failed to let you respond, then that would also be inappropriate. But don’t mistake my agreement with you on this point as any excuse for how you’ve treated him. If your problems with him are that great that it causes you to act the way you did, then you should not invite discussion with him.

    (And Tara, I think you’d really like my Spalding Theory post for when you encounter real anti-mormons. Too bad you didn’t comment there, because I think that’s a post you and I would have definitely been on the same side.)

    I guess I missed that one.

  44. Tara,

    If we start laying down criteria for who we are going to include in this “most people are good” category, then we really aren’t being true to the general premise. That means I can use my own subjective reasoning to say that I think anyone whose views are radically different from mine are generally “not so good, to down right bad.” So, I could include you in my list, correct?

    Yeah, people who espouse conspiracy theories generally fall in the not so good category, mostly because their theories rest on very poor and very flimsy evidence, and their real underlying goal is to attain power. Ironically, those who espouse conspiracy theories tend to be the very kinds of people they rail against: secret combination members.

    But it is not man’s job to judge another man by his thoughts, much less to punish him for them, and thoughts are not a crime in this country.

    Of course it is. You bet I have a right to judge another man (or woman) by his thoughts. Just like you judge me for the views I espouse, Tara. You think poorly of me for no other reason than the thoughts I put up here on this blog. You judge me for the very things you don’t want me to judge you for. Jesus never said not to judge, but not to judge someone’s eternal status. I can’t say, “Tara you’re going to hell because you believe in conspiracy theorists like Skousen.” But I can say, “Tara, you are in a ridiculous position for backing a conspiracy nut like Skousen.”

    As for crimes, no one is talking about “criminal thoughts.” But like everything else in life, our thoughts, when revealed to others, have consequences whether we like it or not. If I had a thought that a woman was fat, and I revealed that thought to that woman, is it not a natural consequence of revealing that thought that the woman slap me upside the head? Was it a crime that I revealed that thought? Am I not free to say that thought without any kind of consequence? You judge me, Tara, by my thoughts when you apparently demand no judgment for your thoughts. If I think you’re a bigot for your views on Islam, should I not have to face any consequence for stating that view? Or am I free to call you a bigot no matter what?

    As an example, our country does not allow hate speech.

    Not sure which country you live in, Tara, but the United States of America certainly allows hate speech. Glenn Beck would be out of business if hate speech was banned here.

  45. Ok, Tara, back to the topic at hand. Steve has a really good point. I’m pretty sure you’re a fan of Ronald Reagan (as am I). Why do you not give weight to his thoughts on the John Birch Society?

    Furthermore, I asked you several questions about Skousen and FBI files. If I need to restate the questions I will, but I’ve already asked twice before we went on the tangent about communication. (It appears we don’t see eye to eye on “proper” blog etiquette.)

  46. MH: Now I added a “w” to make it grammatically correct, since I’ve learned your a stickler for grammar now.

    In a comment about correcting grammar, perhaps change the “your” to “you’re”. 🙂

  47. Here is another Mormon blogger giving his take on the “contemporary” conspiracy: http://ldsdoctrine.blogspot.com/2010/04/blog-post.html

    To me, the most dangerous part of these old ideas is that they constantly get recycled in new forms.

  48. Ok, maybe I should add a disclaimer on my author page. “This blog is not written with impeccable grammar (but I hope it’s not terrible.) I hope we focus on ideas and not grammar.” 🙂

  49. Another approach to revive the discussion would be to refocus on Elder Benson’s and the John Birch Society’s comments regarding the civil rights movement.

    Above I mentioned the march on Selma, Alabama where Governor Wallace and state police trampled and beat peaceful marchers. The John Birch Society called the marchers a “horde of termites”.

    Elder Benson blasted the movement as a Communist front.

    Were either justified?

  50. Gary has responded today.

    He is quoting Sheri Dew on her biography, specifically a statement that she didn’t discuss some incidents in Benson’s life because they would make others look bad.

    I assume his take is that anyone who disagrees with Benson’s extremism on some issues is flawed and will be embarrassed by enumerating anything that might be questionable about Benson.

    Here is his posting: http://ndbf.blogspot.com/2010/11/sheri-dew.html

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