My letter to the local newspaper concerning the death of Utah National Guardsman Ronald Wood of Cedar City (adapted from my last blog post) was received, and I wish to share their reply:
Thank you for sending your opinion to The Spectrum. While it is valid to point out that people here wanted this war and are now having to pay a terrible price for it, the way in which you make it is so inflammatory that I think people will not address the issue because they will be too incensed for other reasons. If you would like to rewrite it we can consider running it. I would suggest taking out the references to Mormonism. Also we are not going to print that Sgt. Wood "is dead for nothing." You have good points to make that should be heard, but there are better ways to make them.
I agree with many of your points about my letter and have re-written it. I was pretty upset about this guardsman's death and adapted the first letter from a post I wrote on my blogsite. In the re-write I have not taken out the references to Mormonism because I believe that they are valid and relevant to the point at hand.
Here is the re-written letter, I hope you will find it less full of bile and anger at what I perceive to be the blindly loyal support given to the U.S. government from folks who have suffered greatly at its hands in the past.
The first national guardsman from here in southern Utah was killed last Saturday in Kirkuk, Iraq, when a bomb struck the Humvee he was riding in. Folks around here are reciting the same patriotic platitudes about how this poor young man died protecting our freedom.
What I'd really like to ask these same people is this: what do you think would have happened to your precious freedom if the U.S. government had refrained from invading Iraq? Do you really believe that the occupation of this Arab country, by the U.S. military, is in your best long-term interests and is something that is tangibly preserving your liberty? Is the tragic death of an honorable young man in the Utah home guard something you are proud to hold up as a meaningful sacrifice to the enduring battle for what is morally right?
In this Mormon-dominated community I am shocked at the un-questioning support shown to a government that openly participated in the persecution of their church in the 19th century and then in the 1950's and 60's, knowingly rained down the vilest forms of radioactive fallout from 126 above ground nuclear tests on the entire population of the church's home region of Utah. I’ve read that the federal government often delayed these nuclear tests when the prevailing winds were blowing towards California and would simply wait for them to start steering again towards Utah before detonation, with the net result that the state's southernmost counties of Iron and Washington possess some of the highest rates of birth defects, rare cancers and mental retardation in the entire country. One would hope that the people of Utah might find some empathy in their hearts for others in the world that now suffer under the same tyrannous aggression that was inflicted upon them by the exact same government in the past.
I feel that they really should know better but am beginning to see what several generations of government schooling has done to the entire country. Here, in the once proud Beehive State, it has nurtured to fruition a brand of fear based, government dependent, march-in-lock-step thinking that has debased a once strong and vigorous sub-culture based on piety and self-determination.
As for the Son of Man, whom the Church of "Jesus Christ" of Latter Day Saints is named, I would like to briefly quote His views on armed conflict: "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil, but whoever slaps you on the right cheek turn to him the other also." Matthew 5:38
"You have heard it said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy'. But I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others?" Matthew 5:43-48
Meanwhile I am truly sad that a young man in my valley is dead for nothing more than the vain and unholy ambitions of imperial world empire."
Spectrum please let me know what you what you think. This letter springs from the deepest parts of my intellectual and spiritual convictions.
Thanks for your editorial feedback. It was valid and on the mark, but I won't compromise my stance to spare the feelings of people who should know better.
I'm grateful for your frank and helpful response.