Notes From The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 4: Richard Turley’s Response

By September 6, 2008

Turley

I suppose every author wants to be read… [There is] humility involved when the book is read by such great scholars.  As Dr. Faragher reminds us, the West could be a violent place and that statement was understated. That’s the theme though that we should have developed more, we did develop it in greater form in the manuscript. Page count precluded us from including all that we wanted to.  For every paragraph in the book two or three ended up on the cutting room floor…we could only touch the peaks of the story hoping that others can come after us and fill out these [gaps].  Grad students, if you’re looking for a thesis or dissertation topic, you heard several today.  I like Faragher’s talking of “ordinary men”.  You’ll feel a sense of discomfort and we intended that the book create discomfort…[by] looking at it [from] a distance, we miss much meaning of the massacre…these people, if we think of them as categorically different, they become capable of atrocities.  The distance is very short…we hoped that people would note the shortness of this distance [between ordinary people and atrocity]…we love criminals to look so different that we can rest easy knowing we cannot do such an act…people who commit crimes look different from ourselves, we’d like to think…we hope readers will shorten that distance and realize that all human beings may give way to violence under certain circumstances.  Dr. Faragher [mentioned] Mormon rhetoric.  Extremely important point, MMM occurred against a backdrop of reformation and the Utah war….language used to characterize this “other” in the discourse of war, only a short distance from discourse of violence and violence itself.  [I] found it very interesting [that] Dr. Faragher would have more info on history of MMM in the history of frontier violence, we tried to not see it as an anomaly, we need more work on that…how does it compare to other violence in Utah or in other parts of the West.  The phrase often used, Nits will make lice…the same term used at Haun’s Mill as one of the mob shot a young boy at close range.  You can see it’s not a huge distance from the language to the act. 

 

Dr. Barlow remarks of the impact.  What doest this book mean for Mormon Studies?…This is, in our opinion, the most difficult subject in Mormon history.  If we can confront this topic face to face in all of its horror and gore, then people who write about Mormon history will feel able to confront any topic.  Our hope is that this will in fact not only give way to more on the themes here, but help to generate good scholarship on other topics of Mormon history.  The book can lead to pain that leads to catharsis, but caution that catharsis is not too through….humans are capable of evil…but I do think that sufficient time has passed that we can enjoy this flowering of the information of MMM, there has been a virtual renaissance in MMM studies in the last 20 years and I think that’s healthy…

 

Dr. F. talked of the MMM and book in terms of native perspectives. I want to make a particular point that the Paiutes who from the very beginning were intended as scapegoats have suffered under a burden that needs to be relieved…I don’t mean to be too personal, I’m not intending to be offensive, I’ve sat with groups in Southern Utah that insist the blame needs to be on the Indians. I tell them they need to give it up, it was your ancestors, you need to relieve them of the burden under which they’ve suffered over a century and a half [applause]…the 1642 skirmishes, I thought, how many other crimes have been committed against these peoples…an effort to saddle them with the crime, principally by these white Southern Utah men. 

 

Then I thought about other events in Utah history that need further attention, some has been given to the Bear River Massacre, but for the Paiute people, the Circleville Massacre needs more attention and candor in some circles. Another tragedy relating to native peoples, these people had been sent to befriend the Paiutes and live among them, a relationship of trust was established that was violated…the anthropological literature is filled with references to whether the conversion to Mormonism by these people was nominal or not…some of the victims were at least nominally Mormons…people foisted on their fellow human beings and [fellow] church members blame for something they initially instituted… it needs to be recognized. A book of this nature could not be completed without the help of so many people. The acknowledgement section is not sufficient. I would like to conclude with gratitude to them and to our panelists.

 

See also parts 1, 2, 3, and 5.

 

See also a transcript of the three authors speaking at Benchmark Books in August.Ardis has also put up her notes from the night.


Comments

  1. […] also parts 2, 3, 4, […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Notes from The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 1: John Mack Faragher — September 6, 2008 @ 1:04 am

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    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Notes From The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 2: Phil Barlow — September 6, 2008 @ 1:05 am

  3. […] Instructor » Notes From The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 2: Phil Barlow: Notes From The MassacreJuvenile Instructor » Notes from The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 1: John Mack […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Notes From The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 3: Donald Fixico, Arizona State University — September 6, 2008 @ 1:05 am

  4. […] See also parts 1, 2, 3, and 4. […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Notes From The Massacre at Mountain Meadows Panel, Part 5: Q & A — September 13, 2008 @ 10:17 pm


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