Friday, June 10, 2011

MX Missiles to Immigration Reform

It's not that I've ever been in conflict with the LDS Church and its official statements even though I may maintain some oddly moderate positions, it's just that it's been thirty years since I felt so vindicated by a political position the church has taken. For some background, read from the June 1981 (!!) Ensign on the Church's opposition to the MX Missile. It really is quite an extraordinary document. It's not just a conflict with the proposed basing system (which was a little odd - and expensive - with miles of paved ovals and bunkers in the Utah and Nevada desert so the Soviets wouldn't know where the missiles were), but the First Presidency gave a rather strong moral condemnation of the whole nuclear arms race mentality in the decade before the end of the Cold War.

Today, the Church issued an official statement reaffirming and strengthening it's call for moderation in immigration reform. This is also quite remarkable. It recognizes the supremacy of the federal government's role in immigration contrary to states' rights doctrine so popular these days among the tea-party and Skousenite/Beckian crowd (i.e., most of the Utah State Legislature and our Congressional Delegation). It calls for a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants already here. It says that an enforcement only approach will "fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God." Sounds like a strong moral position to me.

Of course there are Pharisees on the right who claim this isn't really the position of the church because it wasn't signed by the President of the Church. Yet the Newsroom itself, on the website, identifies itself as the official public voice of the Church. Those kind of critics seem to be straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

It was thirty years ago when still at BYU studying International Relations - including theories of arms races and disarmament - so, yeah, when I heard about the MX Missile basing proposal, dozens of miles of long ovals in the Great Basin from Utah through Nevada creating a giant "shell game," it was interesting to me. I was concerned. I attended public meetings and started signing petitions against the basing system. Besides being a temperate pacifist, I had a specific concern about the destruction of a community in boom and bust economies as would happen to Delta, Utah and the tiny desert towns throughout the Great Basin. I learned about that in Wyoming, Rock Springs being the classic boom and bust disaster. I was so excited when I saw that headline that the First Presidency officially opposed the MX. The whole scheme just collapsed overnight with the loss of support from the then Utah Congressional Delegation (I think one of those guys is still there, hmm.)

I was pleased and felt vindicated with this latest announcement of the church. As I have blogged numerous times that you can see by clicking on the "immigration" label to the right, there is a solution. It is the one proposed by then President W. Bush and Senator McCain, a three-step proposal: 1) Secure the borders, 2) A guest worker program, and 3) A pathway to citizenship. The Church statement supports that outline. The proposal didn't work because the Republican base went crazy on parts 2 and 3 that looked like "amnesty." You can think about that for a while on your own in consideration of the Church's statement.

Most gratifying is to see language like this from the church:
The history of mass expulsion or mistreatment of individuals or families is cause for concern especially where race, culture, or religion are involved. This should give pause to any policy that contemplates targeting any one group, particularly if that group comes mostly from one heritage.
This evokes some of the tragically sad parts of American History as in what happened to the Native Americans, African-Americans, certain immigrant and religious groups, and our Mormon ancestors themselves thrown out of Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. In fact, this is pretty close to some language of the Prophet Joseph Smith that I quoted in a blog posting of last February which was a clear repudiation of states' rights doctrine in favor of Fourteenth Amendment principles that the US Congress and President should be protecting disfavored minorities against improper treatment.

And I don't think there is any coincidence that in one week, the State Republican Convention will convene to consider resolutions of various county platforms throughout Utah to repeal the guest worker provision of the recent legislative session. It is seriously time for the moderates of the Republican Party in Utah to rise up in impassioned reasonableness to break the lock hold the right-wing extremists have on our political system. Calling ex-Senator Bennett! Ambassador Huntsman?!!


  1. I apologize for my formatting. I can't get Blogger to work right with paragraph returns.

  2. It does feel like vindication, doesn't it? The triumph of reason and compassion over idealogy.

  3. If you haven't already, it might be interesting to check out the two Salt Lake papers on this announcement - especially the comments on-line! It is amazing! Here's the D-News:

    and here's the SL Trib:

    (Oh, and if you happen to see some postings on the D-News site by Charityalways, I think I know who that is.)


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