Saturday, January 26, 2013

Daniel Peterson Attacked By Progressives As Racist For Publishing A Balanced Perspective On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Daniel Peterson, the longtime Mormon Studies Review editor who was purged by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University in June 2012, is under attack again, this time accused of "racism". The attack was published on Mormon Curtain in a post entitled "Apology For Daniel C. Peterson's Racist Blog Post", in which someone called Everybody Wang Chung presumptively offers an apology to all African Americans on behalf of Daniel C. Peterson because Peterson dared to expound on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s weaknesses as well as his strengths. Using slippery-slope logic, this joker claims that Peterson would have no problem with slavery because slavery can be portrayed to make perfect free market sense.

So let's go to Daniel Peterson's blog post, entitled "A Hasty Note on Martin Luther King Day". And yes, Peterson did allude to the weaknesses and imperfections of the flesh with which Dr. King had to contend:

Martin Luther King was a seriously flawed man. The plagiarism in his doctoral dissertation, the adulteries, the blurring of his Civil Rights mission and his dalliance with various leftist causes in his latter years — these were and are unfortunate. In this respect, he reminds me of the Jaredite king Morianton, in the Book of Mormon: ”And he did do justice unto the people, but not unto himself because of his many whoredoms” (Ether 10:11).

This is hardly new information, although it has been largely suppressed by the elite which control the U.S. behind the scenes and who have imposed their cultural totalitarianism from the top down. Another LDS member, Joel Skousen, also discussed Dr. King's weaknesses and imperfections in even greater detail in his World Affairs Brief in 2002 (scroll down to January 25th).

But Peterson also acknowledged Dr. King's strengths, in particular highlighting his eloquence:

That said, he was also a man of remarkable bravery, and he paid for it with his life at the hands of a much lesser human being (possibly but not certainly James Earl Ray). And he was stunningly eloquent, delivering powerful, biblically-cadenced speeches that moved millions, and that still move me. (Barack Obama’s vaunted oratorical skills pale into insignificance alongside Dr. King’s, and, unlike Dr. King’s, the content of Mr. Obama’s speeches, when not confused, is very often vacuous.)

Absolutely correct. Just as the Prophet Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood at Carthage Jail, so Dr. King also sealed his testimony with his blood.

Because Daniel Peterson is, by his own definition, a quasi-libertarian, he believes in freedom of association. To be consistent, he believes people should be free to do business with whoever they want, even if it results in racial discrimination. But Peterson also thinks it was obscene and immoral for government to support forced segregation and the associated Jim Crow laws and is glad those laws were overturned; he supports freedom of association, freedom of economic transaction, and free exchange.

But progressives do not believe in free speech or freedom of association, and brook no criticism of their holy secular icons. The same progressives who think nothing of savaging respected LDS Church leaders like Elaine Dalton cannot tolerate any criticism of Dr. King or any of their other holy icons. While they spent eight years bashing George W. Bush, they characterize anyone who criticizes their Obamessiah as disloyal and seditious. Progressives tend to follow the model prescribed by Saul Alinsky, which is basically to attack, attack, attack. By the way, I don't consider "progressive" and "liberal" to be interchangeable; while classical liberals like Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) are honorable and responsible, progressives are hard-left extremist insurgents who know no respect.

In response to questions directed to Peterson as to whether he would consider publishing a similar "balanced perspective" on Joseph Smith, Peterson wrote the following:

No. And here’s why: The claim that Joseph Smith plagiarized the Book of Mormon is, along with the claim that he was an adulterer, a very disputed and controversial one that tends to be part of the standard anti-Mormon attack on him. I would not formulate the argument that, though he invented polygamy to satisfy his lusts and plagiarized Solomon Spalding in order to create a phony scripture that would dupe the yokels, Joseph was still a great prophet. Such an argument would be, in my view, incoherent.

The situation is different with Martin Luther King. His plagiarism and his adulteries are, so far as I’m aware, undenied by any serious student of his life. And there’s no particular controversy about them. No “Kingite” sect is claiming that his dissertation is actually revealed scripture or that his adulteries occurred by divine command. More importantly, it’s entirely coherent to argue that, despite his personal failings, Martin Luther King was a very great moral voice on one of the greatest issues in American history. That is, in fact, the argument I was making — and for which I’m being attacked.

To his credit, Daniel Peterson hasn't backed down and issued a craven apology like so many others who "sin" against political correctness do. He models himself after Sarah Palin, who has said in the past that when you're taking flak, it merely means you're over the target. The way to deal with progressives is simple. When they sow the wind, we make sure they reap the whirlwind. When they chastise us with whips, we chastise them with scorpions. There can be no dialogue, fellowship, or reconciliation with those who practice the politics of personal destruction.


Ben L. Kemer said...

One of the interesting things I always find about dealing with history is how, as you said, there's that question of maturity in realizing that you don't have to react to something, or deny the existence of evil, but recognize that flawed individuals were involved, and that they prevailed despite their flaws and wrongdoings.

I would say that what Peterson said for Dr. King is similarly true for Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln as well, to name a few.

Washington argued, relating to what was written in the books of Moses, concerning slavery, that how he dealt with his slaves by not making them work on the Sabbath, keeping the families under his ownership together, and also by allowing them to learn trades like cooking or metalwork, that he was okay in being a slave owner, although his mind changed to the policy of granting freedom in his will upon his death.

Abraham Lincoln was a proponent of having emancipated slaves settle back in Africa, and was not fond of the idea of race-mixing. He was pressured repeatedly to give the Emancipation Proclamation, which he gave.

I think the big problem with today's current thinking is that people are trying to make us forget the important principle of appealing to government, in favor of sitting back, and somehow accepting government as consisting of someone more than people who will inherently do the right thing, when in reality, people who were flawed, yet appealed to, like Lincoln and Washington, could do the right thing, and goes to show that people can and should appeal to someone and can, possibly find good results.

MLK Jr.'s important actions, to me was the fact that he appealed his point, he didn't just sit around and call something unfair, he appealed to higher authority, using constitutional means.

Regarding Morianton, I think that's a good analogy to remember that even if we disagree, or have some worries about the leaders of our country, it's still worth appealing to them, rather than just make hasty judgements, or just assume how good or bad they are.

Jack Mormon said...

Cogent analysis, Ben. What Peterson said about Dr. King does apply to other historical leaders as well; they had their weaknesses as well as their strengths. They were products of their time.

The interesting part about presenting the whole story about Dr. King is to show how he rose above his ordinary human weaknesses to fulfill an extraordinary mission.