Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Slander On The Sly

I came across this gem yesterday. It's a mostly interesting article cashing in on the current FLDS sensationalism. It wasn't bad, but I have to admit that what really struck me was the way the author, and sometimes horrible folk singer, Neil Young, found occasion to slide a little anti-Joseph Smith sentiment into his otherwise historical account of an attempted raid on a polygamous compound in 1953. You can read the entire article by clicking on the title above, but I will share the offending parts here (emphasis mine):

But as more time passed since the Short Creek raid, the fundamentalists began taking jobs outside their community and interacting more with the world around them. It was this decreasing separatism that Warren Jeffs sought to curb by moving some of the residents of Colorado City and Hildale to the Texas compound. Jeffs, who had succeeded his deceased father as leader and prophet of the FLDS Church in 2002, claimed direct lineage from both Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith, and he took more than 70 women as wives, many of whom had been his father's spouses, too. Jeffs' sense of his own power was immense, and he commanded absolute obedience from his community. In building the ranch compound in Texas, Jeffs hoped to prepare a perfect place where God's chosen could wait for His imminent return—the compound's name is Yearning for Zion—and he gloried in his status as God's leader on earth. "It was almost as if he thought he was invincible," Martha Bradley notes. "It was exactly how Joseph Smith acted in the last year of his life."

Martha Bradley, a University of Utah professor, author of a book about the Short Creek raid, and originator of the last line quoted above, apparently knows something about Joseph Smith that no one else does. I hope she writes a book to explain the similarities between Joseph Smith and Warren Jeffs to the rest of us. As of now, I've never read a single comment from anyone who knew Joseph Smith to suggest that he "commanded absolute obedience" or "thought he was invincible." Sure, modern-day Mormon-haters will tell you things like that, but you aren't much of a historian if those are your sources for history.

And seriously, Mr. Young. You put this article together, so tell me - What does a (slanderous, contrived) knock against Joseph Smith do to further our understanding of the incident at Short Creek?

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