Charlottesville

Bottom Line: No Mormon has any doctrinal basis for racial violence, hate speech, or in any way teaching that one racial group is somehow more beloved of God than any other. As those who love God, we ought to be active in working towards peace and reconciliation between those who are at odds.

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Years ago we had a child’s history teacher over for dinner. As we talked, I mentioned that I didn’t know much about Virginia history in the last 100 years.

The teacher looked at me, then started referring to Virginia’s shameful past with respect to race.

It was a high school play in 2014 that helped me to better understand the racial strife associated with Virginia’s refusal to integrate White and Black children in schools.

Virginia is a place where many are proud to fly the Confederate flag. Virginia is the place where I was tormented as a child for being part Asian. Virginia is the state where seven Black men were executed for the 1949 rape of a White woman. 1

This weeked James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car at high speed through a crowd in Charlottesville, VA, hurting 20 people, including killing Heather D. Heyer. Fields likely intended more harm, but his vehicle was stopped when it ran into cars “hidden” in the midst of the crowd. As details trickle in about James Fields, it becomes clear his use of a car to harm those protesting the white supremicist “rally” taking place in Charlottesville. Both James Fields and Heather Heyer were White.

Earlier this month, two racist posters were found on the University of Utah campus. The posters were not approved, and were taken down before police arrived in response to 911 calls. According to something I saw, the person responsible for the racist posters may have been a White housewife.

A man driving is car at top speed through a crowd of civilians is different from a housewife putting up two pieces of paper. Yet both actions have stricken fear in their respective communities.

In Virginia, Governor McAuliffe had declared a state of emergency even before Mr. Fields drove his car through a sea of people protesting against the white supremicists.

In Utah, the poster incident has caused severe distress in the community, particularly amongst Blacks. The language on the posters resonates with the logic proponed by the white supremicists and apparently by Mr. Fields.

As seen from the “Hate Map” produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Utah hardly knows how to spell “hate.” 2 Yet the posters and other similar incidents appropriately cause concern.

The Mormon Church, the dominant group responsible for historic settlement of Utah, decries racism, as seen in the statement the LDS Church issued today in response to the Charlottesville tragedy.

As Gordon B. Hinckley said only a few years ago, “No man [or woman] who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.”

Every person on this earth, of whatever race they may be, is a child of a loving God. If one is a believing Mormon, that is the primary lesson we learn from reading the Book of Mormon or attending Church. Though for many years there was disparate treatment for Black members, even Brigham Young taught Black Church members would eventually “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members. 3

No Mormon has any doctrinal basis for racial violence, hate speech, or in any way teaching that one racial group is somehow more beloved of God than any other. As those who love God, we ought to be active in working towards peace and reconciliation between those who are at odds.

Notes:

  1. The victim was a comely Jehovah’s Witness and merchant who had attempted to collect a minor debt from a customer in a bad part of town despite the gathering dark. The case of the Martinsville Seven was unusual as the Martinsville courts had adopted procedures to prevent the overt racism identified by the NAACP in prior legal lynchings. In other high profile cases of this nature, the defendants often got off. But the Martinsville case involved men who were guilty of either perpetuating the rape or at least witnessing it without interference, so they weren’t “innocent,” per se.
  2. The orange fist icon on Utah refers to the state’s American Vanguard group, an organization that sees itself as standing up for White men in the state of Utah.
  3. Brigham Young, Speeches Before the Utah Territorial Legislature, Jan. 23 and Feb. 5, 1852, George D. Watt Papers, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, transcribed from Pitman shorthand by LaJean Purcell Carruth; “To the Saints,” Deseret News, April 3, 1852, 42.]
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

39 thoughts on “Charlottesville

  1. Probably not a good idea to cite the SPLC in anything. They have a habit of designating some right leaning and pro-traditional family groups as hate groups (eg: Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, American Family Association, World Congress of Families, American College of Pediatricians to name a few). Is there another source you can cite, which might be more credible?

  2. Bottom line: 99.9% of the political violence that has occurred during the past calendar year has been perpetrated by Leftist groups.

    Yeah, I get it: neo-nazis are ugly people. But the Leftists are the ones actually sending people to the hospital with broken bones and bullet wounds.

    I just wish we could denounce Antifa and Black Lives Matter with the same zeal and breathless earnestness that people seem compelled to offer against these small alt-right groups.

  3. “Probably not a good idea to cite the SPLC in anything.” I think you can recognize the good work they do while still disagreeing with their characterization of some groups.

    “Bottom line: 99.9% of the political violence that has occurred during the past calendar year has been perpetrated by Leftist groups.” Is there a citation for this? It seems highly unlikely.

  4. Violence is rarely a proper response, particularly when it is not authorized by someone in authority.

    All people get feisty when their circle of concern is threatened. For the white supremacist rally, it was the threat to history implied by removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. The violence being perpetrated (and by which “side”) became OBE when James Field drove his car into the crowd of counter-protesters. Once James Field acted, it all became about the hideous violence perpetrated by a wannabe white supremacist against peaceful counter-protesters.

    For Black Lives Matter, it was the fact of deaths that evoked all too many decades and even centuries of consistent societal violence against Blacks.

    Insert the name of any group and add how that group perceived itself to be threatened, and you have a pretext for violence to erupt.

  5. @Jack of Hearts

    I find it a bit tedious to do your homework for you, given that we live in an incredible golden age of information. But, here is what I found readily available after investing about thirty seconds of time:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/the-rise-of-the-violent-left/534192/

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/16/violent-protests-upend-left-wings-formerly-peacefu/

    You’re aware, I’m sure, that The Atlantic is *not* a right-wing rag.

    And you’re welcome, by the way.

  6. I’m having a hard time separating fact from fiction on this one. The news media headlines are misleading (at best), which is a real shame and not helping my growing mistrust of journalism.

    It took me to the 3rd page of Google (to Al Jazeera, no less) to find some information that wasn’t vague, intentional or not. Apparently the guy is being “charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit-and-run”. That doesn’t sound like hitting 20 people, it sounds like 4 or 5. However there are at least 35 injured from fights that broke out during the rally, with 19 confirmed at a local hospital. I’m also starting to see reports on how the driver was panicked because people were beating his car as he was driving.

    Despite not agreeing with the various ideologies, it wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out the counter-protesters (Anti-fa, et al.) started much of the violence, and the protesters (white supremes or whatever they are) returned in kind – which has been a growing pattern of these things.

  7. There is racism and hatred coming from many sides. I’m not sure if the number is 99 percent, but certainly *most* of the recent violence has come from the left and antifa groups. Many people are falling for the media propaganda on this issue — good to see that Fort above is showing signs that he can actually see beyond the propaganda. Mormons should condemn racism and violence from all groups, not just fascist ones.

    Go to lds.org and look up “racism” in talks by apostles and prophets. There have been many, many statements condemning racism. God is no respecter of persons. But the prophets do not only condemn racism on the fascist right. They condemn all racism.

  8. Meg, I am curious: have you ever been surrounded by people beating your car? Do you think it is at least *possible* that the driver panicked in that situation and had no actual intention to kill anybody? You wrote:

    “This weeked James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car at high speed through a crowd in Charlottesville, VA, hurting 20 people, including killing Heather D. Heyer. Fields likely intended more harm, but his vehicle was stopped when it ran into cars “hidden” in the midst of the crowd. As details trickle in about James Fields, it becomes clear his use of a car to harm those protesting the white supremicist “rally” taking place in Charlottesville. Both James Fields and Heather Heyer were White.”

    Are you 100 percent sure of that narrative?

    To be clear, if there is a trial and several witnesses can corroborate that this man drove to Charlottesville with the intent to harm people, then so be it. For example, if he wrote some friend, “I am going to mow down those protesters when I get to Charlottesville,” then clearly that shows intent. It is obviously possible that this is the case. The information on this guy shows that he flunked out of basic training, was infatuated with the Germany nazis and generally was somewhat of a loser. But this does not by any stretch PROVE that he drove to Charlottesville with that intention. I prefer to believe in actual facts rather than media spin and propaganda.

  9. Sorry Michael, I must not have been clear: Do you have a source that backs up your specific claim? I’ve actually read both of those articles before and am well aware of the rise in violent protests from the left. I’m not disputing that it’s occurring; I’m disputing your claim that it accounts for “99.9% of the political violence that has occurred during the past year.”

    “And you’re welcome, by the way.” Thanks? I’m not sure where this hostility is coming from. I’m not as conservative as many on this blog, but I’m a regular reader, sometime commenter here and certainly not a leftist.

    To Joyce: Oh, okay. That makes sense then. At first I thought you were just disagreeing with one aspect of their work. I hesitate to ask now, but would you be willing to point me toward a critique of them that you think is particularly good? I’ve read a few but am always interested in more.

  10. I’ll add that given our own history as a modern religious group, we ought to stay very aware of how easy it is for people to tribe up (and make extreme choices) in the face of what they perceive as unrelenting hate.

  11. Hi Jack, I’m curious now about where you’re coming from on the SPLC. There’s clearly a lot of animus toward the group in this community. Can you point us to something you consider evidence of the SPLC’s “good work”?

  12. “I’m not disputing that it’s occurring; I’m disputing your claim that it accounts for “99.9% of the political violence that has occurred during the past year.””

    Oh, okay. You just want to be pedantic. I don’t have time to be pedantic with you. If you’re not familiar with the appropriate use of hyperbole to make legitimate points, then there is nothing else for you and I to discuss.

  13. Michael, I think Jack of Hearts had a sincere desire for more information on that subject. He is not one of the bad ones, so please give him a break.

    Re: the SPLC: many years ago it was a good organization, but new leadership has turned it into a left-wing hate group all of its own. It has named Ben Carson as a “hate group,” as well as a long list of groups that simply disagree with the SJW/PC talking points. It should not be taken seriously anymore. More here: https://townhall.com/columnists/joshgoldstein/2017/07/26/splc-hate-group-n2360208

  14. Hi Geoff,

    The fact is that Mr. Fields drove into the crowd. While it is possible he was merely intending to catch a bite to eat and got lost and then accidentally floored his accelerator rather than stomping on the brake in response to a terrifying situation, it doesn’t then make sense that he would reverse and flee the scene (though at age 20 it’s possible he didn’t know that fleeing the scene would be incriminating).

    I am reminded of a trial where I was being considered for the jury. The defense attorney was trying to make the case that merely because a man was discharging his gun in the direction of the police, it was still possible that he didn’t actually intend for the police to be hit by any of his bullets. I stated that as a juror I would follow the data. And so the defense made sure to recuse me from the jury. The voir dire had provided me enough detail to look the case up after being dismissed from the jury. Fascinating, and I don’t know how a person could claim that in an extended gun fight the man shooting had no intention of harming the police officers at whom he was shooting.

    How often do people use their car to mow down innocents, with the bodies being tossed aside like dolls? It happens in certain games and was depicted in Mad Max. But in real life it is not common for people to mow down large groups of people with their car. I have seen two instances where a person thought they were pushing down the brake and instead hit the accelerator, crashing their car into a house (both times within dozens of feet of my house). If you have evidence of why we ought consider Saturday’s vehicular activity benign and accidental, I’m all ears.

  15. Hi Geoff,

    Thank you for the background on the SPLC. Obviously I wasn’t aware of it’s history.

    Given that it has gone to labeling all non-PC groups as hate groups, it is even more striking that they only identify one group in the central Mormon corridor. Woot for Utah being so decent that even the SPLC hadn’t figured a way to label anyone a hate group other than that one group looking out for the good of white men in the great state of Utah.

  16. “Re: the SPLC: many years ago it was a good organization, but new leadership has turned it into a left-wing hate group all of its own.”

    SPLC has been a leftist wing-nut group, putting out slanted reports, and outright lies for at least 25 years. If you read the personal history of the founder, he’s not someone you would trust.

    It is also coming out that the Charlottesville perp is a longtime schizophrenic, going back to childhood, and with a long time fascination with Nazis. Not that that excuses anything.

  17. I did indeed watch the video (the one from the drone). Watching it in slow motion shows that the car was stopped, then moved forward about 21 ft in 3 seconds (real time) before coming to a stop again. This was estimated using by using 200 in. as the length of a minivan and the car moving about 1.25 car lengths forward. I counted 4 maybe 5 people directly hit with another 4 or 5 pushed back by the people hit.

    This is sad, but it’s starting to look a lot different than what the media has been pushing.

  18. Fort:

    Google “Brennan Gilmore Twitter”. It sounds like you have not seen the video he filmed. When I first heard this story, I was willing to give the driver the benefit of the doubt. After seeing Gilmore’s video, it’s hard for me to believe that the driver didn’t ram the crowd deliberately.

  19. I do not mean to argue the intentions and the motivations of what went on, nor do I wish to minimize what happened, but I very much want to know the truth.

    The dominant stories seem to be exaggerating and that throws up red flags in my mind about what really went on.

    That video with search of “Brennan Gilmore Twitter” shows a different car (hard top gray sports car, no flag) than the drone video. It doesn’t even show it hitting the protesters. The drone video shows a red minivan hit protesters and a gray soft-top car with a flag right behind it. The gray car in the drone video did not leave the scene as quickly as the one in the twitter video.

    Ultimately, I think we need to seek the truth of things with more zeal than seeking condemnation before the facts, even if that condemnation is well deserved.

  20. Oh good, I found a 3rd video. It looks like the one hard top gray car rammed the soft top gray car which rammed the red minivan which hit the protesters. Yeah, that seems pretty deliberate to me.

  21. NW, yeah, I had not seen that video. It’s difficult to imagine any scenario except deliberately trying to hit people based on that video. Sick psycho.

    Meg, new information. I agree with your take after seeing it.

  22. https://twitter.com/brennanmgilmore/status/896434516260212737

    This tweet has several pictures and different angles of what is being discussed here.

    I am surprised only about 2 dozen people were hurt and one person died, this could’ve been MUCH worse.

    PS: millenial star is welcome to remove the link above if they so choose; that said, I think it is important to see for yourself what happened prior to reading about it.

  23. not sure why people are defending the alt-right groups that literally, LITERALLY, are marching with nazi flags and doing the nazi salute. WWII, they’d be the ppl joining the nazi’s back then too. Millions of Americans died fighting in that war. Why do they think it’s patriotic to do it? It’s actually the least american thing to do. And if they say the ppl doing it are just a few people, then why don’t they boot the extremists? And I know the left has got its problems, but if I steal something I don’t go “well, other people do it too”

  24. I think the complexity is that we had both “nazi” elements and “fascist” elements clashing in Charlottesville, and both sides are composed of enraged individuals who are children of God.

    The push back I see from folks like President Trump is that there is more than one offending group, not just one offending group. Relatively few people are sympathetic to the “nazi” folks. We remember World War II and Hitler and extermination of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and other “undesirable” peoples. What we don’t remember as well is Mussolini and Stalin and Franco and Mao.

    Arguably the militancy of the so-called antifa is in part because they feel they lost in the election. So they are doing what marginalized people have often done in response to electoral defeat and taking the law into their own hands. They would see it as righteous opposition.

    It is a time that will be recorded in history books and our future generations will be amazed that this time could have ever happened, somewhat like how I am amazed that various past situations could ever have occurred. But lived history is never so easy or obvious as history books make it seem.

  25. Yes brothers and sisters, we need to decry the acts of the one psycho driving his car into people because we have to make sure people know we don’t agree with murder. He truly is the biggest threat to God’s plan.

    meanwhile, lets defend black lives matter, a group who posts on their main website under “guiding principles”:

    “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”

    But those dang racist bigots in Virginia running over everyone!!!! RAAAAAA!!!!!

  26. Joey,

    It’s truly unfortunate that Mr. Fields drove his car into that crowd, because I think the analysis of that day would have looked differently if it was legal Nazis being confronted by illegal counter protesters. But once Mr. Fields barreled down that road into the counter-protesters, they were cleansed by the blood of Ms. Heyer.

    I apologize if I am misunderstanding this weekend, as I am not aware that the counter protesters had a permit for their activities.

    Either way, deadly actions intentionally wrought will obviously be seen as more heinous than non-deadly protests, with or without urine splattering journalists.

  27. “not sure why people are defending the alt-right groups that literally, LITERALLY, are marching with nazi flags and doing the nazi salute”

    Perhaps because, despite whatever you may think or feel about Nazism as an ideology, they have a constitutional right to political free speech?

    Freedom of speech is meaningless if we only allow people that we like to engage in the activity.

  28. I suggest the folks here who are under age 50, look up how the ACLU came to the defense of the KKK when they sued for a permit to march/rally in Skokie, IL.

    Also re-read Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, published in 1961, and pay attention to the thing about having to repeatedly recite a politically correct shibboleth or “signal”, a loyalty oath in that story, before every event, to the point where you had to recite the loyalty oath before someone would pass you the salt.

    Trump got into trouble because he didn’t “signal” correctly for 48 hours after the incident.

    No salt for you!!

  29. Steven, I am not sure who is defending the alt-right groups here, except to point out that they do have a right to peacefully assemble. Alt-right groups are, in my opinion, engaging in racist speech, which has clearly been condemned by modern-day prophets, so, yeah, people who support the Church should have no associations with alt-right groups.

    One small nit-pick. You write that millions of Americans died fighting in WWII. Actually, the total number is just about 400,000. The reason I mention this is just for the historical record. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/students-teachers/student-resources/research-starters/research-starters-worldwide-deaths-world-war

  30. It’s a bit moot now because people have retracted what they said because of the video, but I have been to that part of Charlottesville. It’s an outdoor mall. There are always a lot of people walking around there on weekdays and even more on weekends.
    Someone driving that speed in that setting wanted to hurt people.

  31. JHS, did the left wing tally contain the 11 police officers killed by BLM protestors? (5 in Dallas, 3 in Baton Rouge, 2 in NY, 1 in KY; plus 9 others shot and wounded.)

  32. Mr. Harvey,

    The link you posted doesn’t even mention left-wing violence. The 27% isn’t left-wing at all. It’s “radical Islamist violent extremists”. It’s hard to take it seriously when left-wing violence is mysteriously absent from the accounting.

    Also, it doesn’t look at the last calendar year at all. Take a deep dive into political violence from August 2016 to August 2017 and you’ll see something interesting — if you’re honest about this topic.

  33. As the recent event in Barcelona indicated, along with other, similar, attacks, vehicular manslaughter has become a favored form of terrorist activity. Open air festivals, crowds gathered for parades or protests, or waiting in lines for games offer opportunity for twisted souls to wreak chaos. Almost any street legal car or truck can kill a number of people before it can be stopped. Look for the erection of a lot more concrete ‘Jersey walls’. I personally plan to be more aware of vulnerability and ways to avoid such situations where possible. There is no excuse for anyone, whatever their ideology or fervid opinion, to aim a vehicle at a crowd and press the gas pedal. SPLC is not a reliable source of information, but in our current situation there are very few sources that can be trusted. Videos can be faked or mislabeled, pictures photo-shopped, and witness accounts edited to change the meaning. Avoiding letting rage infect us is the wisest course of action.

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