Letter Re: Utah and LDS Church Members, Post-TEOTWAWKI (SAs: Retreat Selection, Relocation, Demographics, Charity, Utah)

James Wesley–
I admire and deeply appreciate the detailed counsel you have been giving about self-sufficiency and defense. After I borrowed “Patriots” from the library, I went ahead and paid $50 for a used copy. We became “First Family” members at Front Sight on your say-so, even though we are in Hawaii and can’t even attend Front Sight until 8/2006. So I think I merit being heard with respect to your musing that being a non-Mormon in a Mormon community might make you “expendable”.

To the contrary, the unbelievably magnificent efforts in time, people and materiel of the LDS Church in the Katrina disaster and the pre-positioning by the LDS Church of additional goods and resources for the impending Rita disaster give the lie to your insinuation that the Mormons look after themselves first.

In fact, I think you have the situation backwards–American history shows that when “push comes to shove” it’s the Mormons who have been expendable. In fact, the first Americans to suffer for defending the rights of “free men of color” were the Mormons. For their defense of civil rights in Missouri, the Mormons were burned out, many beaten, some raped, and a number murdered. Finally, the shameful Missouri Governor’s Extermination Order threatening that if the Mormons didn’t leave the state at once the state militia would kill them makes it abundantly clear who considers whom to be “expendable”. [JWR Comments: Out of fairness, one should distinguish between the mid-19th Century and the early 21st Century. As a “gentile” I cannot be blamed for those atrocities any more than I can be blamed for the institution of slavery in America. We are several generations removed from those events and all of those involved in them.]

It might be enlightening for you to know that the first people to defend themselves against an illegal and immoral invasion by the United States Army were the Mormons. Self-serving politicians sought to gain votes by sending the Army to put down a so-called “rebellion” by the Mormons in Deseret. Thank God, the military leadership refused to be used in such a way and entered an abandoned Salt Lake City peacefully, their commander riding through the streets at the head of his troops with his head uncovered honoring the people he knew to be maligned. I truly believe that, unless you are like the heroes in “Patriots” and are taking care of yourself, the absolutely best place to be in a crunch will be in a rural community with a heavy Mormon majority. And that is true, not insignificantly, because the Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States of America to be a divinely inspired document–and have shed blood defending its principles.

Now on perhaps a lighter note about “who is my neighbor”: When we moved to a little island in Washington state some years ago, a neighbor, getting acquainted, said, “Oh, Mormons! Good. I’ll know where to come when I need food.” I answered (and I meant it): “Yes Ma’am, I don’t have food for one family for 24 months; I have food for four families for six months.”

Now you’ve got me on a roll. This same family: husband an attorney, wife an elementary school teacher, her dad an MD were stuck, like us, in an ice storm on Thanksgiving day some years ago. Everybody’s turkeys were cooling in the ovens. The phones weren’t affected so the neighbor called over to borrow my Coleman stove to heat up some water for coffee. Why not, we had our free-standing iron stove doing its job for us. I sent a daughter over with the, admittedly, ancient white-gas stove. After a quarter hour, the neighbor called back to say the stove didn’t seem to work and could I help. I was embarrassed: here I am the local “how-to-hack it” guru and my dumb stove is DOA. So I went over to apologize, and beat a retreat with my Coleman antique. There they were in their family room huddled around the stove in blankets with burnt out matches on the floor–and with the gas canister still undeployed inside the stove! I realized that had these folks got their fingers on the red knob and opened it, they might well have burnt their home down–and maybe mine too!
It never occurred to me that they were expendable.

I hope you will take the opportunity in your blog to “lighten up” on your castigation of Mormons. I have never checked out my neighborhood to see if any non-Mormons were around that I could get rid of in a crisis. I have held important positions in LDS Church administration in Salt Lake City, California, New Zealand, Washington, and Hawaii, and have never heard any such notions from any of my brothers and sisters in the Church. – B.B. in Hawaii