This current blog entry, however, is not about that role.
It is, rather, about the use of the LDS Church for political purposes by others in the form of propaganda.
Paul Rolly, of the Salt Lake Tribune, wrote an article that appeared May 7, 2011 in the Trib.
The article is titled, "LDS Church has duty to protect missionaries."
The article is available at:
Part of the thesis of the article seems to be:
The LDS Church has an obligation to protect its missionaries.
Certainly, that is true. No one would dispute that.
But, Rolly does not stop there. He discusses the danger missionaries might face in Latin American nations because of anti-immigrant rhetoric in Utah. He slyly tells us that anti-illegal-immigration people distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, but that sometimes the distinction is lost in "inflammatory" rhetoric. Thus, according to Rolly, those "belonging to the same ethnic group most targeted by that rhetoric" feel the rhetoric is "racist."
Rolly adds in the "risk" factor and his actual thesis, although unstated, seems to be:
If you want enforcement of U.S. laws regarding illegal-immigration, and speak out publicly, then you are putting LDS missionaries at risk in Latin America. You, as an LDS Church member, should seek to protect the missionaries.
Can't you almost hear the natural follow-up idea to this expanded thesis?
This follow-up idea is the propaganda effect of Rolly's article, whether he intended it or not.
This idea is: Therefore, you should keep your mouth shut about illegal immigration.
This is the message I get from the article.
It is an implicit demand for LDS people to back out of the immigration debate. Since most people in Utah are LDS, it would effectively end the debate in favor of those promoting amnesty-type policies - such as HB116.
Isn't this a strange implicit message for a newspaper writer to be creating? Aren't they supposed to be for open debate?
The odd thing about Rolly's article is that he can't push this view without slandering Latin Americans.
"Mexico already is a violent and dangerous country because of all the drug wars, and other parts of Latin America are risky as well."
Rolly then goes on to cite Tony Yapias, who just got back from Peru (his country of origin). Rolly seems to be using his information from Mr. Yapias as a way to reinforce his own point about risk in Latin American nations.
The Trib tells us: "He [Yapias] says missionaries, because they are so visible, run the risk of being put in a dangerous situation because of "guilt by association."'
Mr. Yapias, interestingly enough, seems to think that we should adopt the viewpoint of those Peruvians who apparently want the U.S. to subordinate its laws to their wishes instead of to policies beneficial to the U.S.
By portraying Mexicans and other Latin Americans as potentially violent in their disagreement with those in Utah or the U.S., who want enforcement of illegal immigration beefed up, Mr. Rolly has essentially engaged in the very behavior he wishes to attribute to anti-illegal immigration advocates.
He is insulting to Latin Americans and, if his thesis is correct, they now have a reason to be angry with Americans in their nations - thus putting Americans at risk.
There is certainly violence in any nation perpetrated by criminals, people who are drunk, drug cartels, etc. Mexico, for example, is a prisoner of drug cartel violence - violence and corruption that should cause us all concern and call for ideas about how to assist our neighbor to the south.
I have doubts, however, that drug cartels really care much about our immigration debate in Utah except as it may advance their operations and HB116 certainly seems to be a bill that would provide them opportunity for expansion and cover.
What I am being critical of here, however, is the notion that an average Mexican or Peruvian or other Latin American is just going to be violent towards an LDS missionary or other American because of the debate in Utah over illegal immigration. I think that Latin Americans, as well as Mormons, are being portrayed by Mr. Rolly in a certain way for political purposes and that purpose is to position Mormons in a way that makes them uncomfortable with opposing HB116.
The case can be made that by reinforcing the rule of law and by discouraging illegal behavior in the U.S., Latin Americans everywhere will find renewed respect for Americans and confidence in our system as a model for improvements in their own societies.