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Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can’t Scare the Old Gray Lady:

"Good journalism for an intelligent general audience is hard. And we’re really good at it. Taking on The Times is not as easy as waving a credit card and proclaiming yourself 'fair and balanced. . . .' We have every reason to feel confident that we can hold our own if [Rupert] Murdoch decides to build The Journal beyond its business-reader base. In all the Murdoch parlor-gaming, I don’t hear anyone suggesting that he would attempt to match the depth of our coverage in culture, science, education, health, religion, sports, lifestyle, etc., etc. Not to mention business coverage that even devout Journal readers find they can’t afford to miss."

-- Bill Keller, editor, New York Times, on Murdoch’s promised Wall Street Journal challenge to Times national dominance, Oct. 16, 2007

Mountain Meadows descendant says no apology necessary, only understanding

By Kristen Encheff

Septemer 17, 2007 | I have two secrets. The first most can figure out in a glance: I wear a cross necklace, the occasional sleeveless shirt, I don't have a ward and have no clue where the stake center is. Being non-Mormon in Utah is something I have gotten used to, though getting a date is hard and a second date, nearly impossible.

My second secret: I am a descendant of John T. Baker, wagonmaster of the wagon train that met its end in the Mountain Meadows of Southern Utah.

For most of my life in Utah, revealing this lineage often got questions such as "the Mountain Meadows Massacre? What's that?" After a long story and lots of reassurance that I hold no grudge, life could return to normal.

What angers me is not the act itself, but the ignorance that such a dark spot on the LDS Church history is so little known. It has always been my belief that only understanding of the past can keep us from repeating its mistakes. But with the 150th anniversary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre this month, it has been thrown into the spotlight.

On Sept. 11, 1857, a wagon train from Arkansas taking reprieve from their journey to California in the Mountain Meadows in southern Utah, came under an unprovoked attack by local Mormon militia and a few Indians. While the trigger for this attack is unknown, it certainly has something to do with the Mormon's own violent evictions from several states and the hysteria following word that the U.S. Army was riding towards the Utah Territory.

Of course, the true horror of Mountain Meadows was not the battle itself, but events following pioneer's surrender. Under the command of John D. Lee, the leader of the militia, the pioneers -- men, women and children -- were marched up a hill and swiftly executed, all except a handful of children under 6 years old, considered too young to recount what had happened to their families.

The cover-up that followed this brutal act still haunts the descendants of both sides of the incident, the anniversary of which seems to have renewed turmoil and pain. Many descendants of the wagon train demand an apology from the current LDS Church, many more at least a confession of their part in the massacre. I believe this to be a foolish request. The massacre was four generations ago, and such things need to be laid to rest.

When local people discover my lineage, they often react with either sorrow or anger, nearly always certain that my family and I must hate the LDS Church and its people. There are many descendants who do harbor such resentment, just as there are many descendants of the Mormon pioneers that carry anger at the injustice their own ancestors suffered during their long search for a home.

What happened in the past should stay in the past. I don't expect a confession or an apology, nor do I truly want one. I would rather be able to discuss the events of 150 years ago with my LDS peers without hostility or defensiveness. What happened to my ancestors, and the ancestors of the Mormons, should finally be put to bed.


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