Joseph F. Smith’s editorial in the Juvenile Instructor of 15 September 1903, decrying mob violence, just feels odd to me – help me to figure it out.
Hyrum Smith, Joseph F.’s own father, died at the hands of a violent mob. Joseph F. normally has no hesitation in retelling that awful story. Here, though, although he speaks in general of violence against missionary elders in the South, and about the “drivings” of Mormons in the 19th century, he doesn’t make any direct reference to his father or to Carthage. Why do you think that was so?
His attitude toward the lynchings of blacks is remarkably banal. He seems to accept without question that black men are guilty of crimes against white women, merely shrugs when he writes of lynchings, even of the killing of the “wrong” men, and only expresses dismay when the killings become too violent, mingled with “torturing and burning.” How do you feel about his attitude?
He seems to have two primary purposes for this editorial: One, it seems to me, is a sense that mob violence will spread as, perhaps, one of the factors in the destruction of the last days, in the category of “wars and rumors of wars.” He also cautions Latter-day Saints against participating in mob violence – he seems concerned about our participation in mob action as perpetrators, not as victims. Is that how you read this? or do you see other purposes for the editorial?