long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The M2C citation cartel as the Fifth Column - FairMormon example

There was a bit of a reaction to my post yesterday about the Fifth Column, so I thought we should clarify the issue.

In my view, any LDS person or group who teaches that the latter-day prophets are wrong is acting as a Fifth Column.* This is a fundamental, uncontroversial principle, well established in the scriptures.  

It's true that in the classic sense, a Fifth Column is defined as a "clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation’s solidarity by any means at their disposal." But I'm not saying the M2C** citation cartel is sympathizing with the adversary. That's why I gave the example of people who were unintentionally spreading colds and influenza that undermined the war effort.
Fifth Columnists spreading disease,
but not sympathizing with the adversary

You don't have to sympathize with the enemy or intend to sabotage the war effort to be a Fifth Column. You can do so out of ignorance, negligence, or even with misdirected good intentions.

Joseph Fielding Smith called out the M2C theory when it first got started in the 1930s. He said that "Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon."

Causing confusion and disturbing the faith of members in the Book of Mormon is exactly what a Fifth Column in the Church would do. 

And that's exactly what the M2C citation cartel is doing. 

Instead of the M2C citation cartel, a better name would be the M2C Fifth Columnists.

Yesterday I explained that it was a white board in Palmyra that led me to President Lee's comments about the Fifth Columnists. I was especially interested in this because in the 1960s, I was in Spain when it was being ruled by General Franco. An Article in the NY Times explains the term:

"Poised for what many thought would be the final assault on Madrid at the outbreak of civil war in 1936, Gen. Emilio Mola was asked which of his four columns would take the capital. Coining a phrase that became instantly celebrated, the general replied that it was his hidden ''fifth column'' of right-wing supporters inside Madrid that would deliver the city."

I think President Lee and President Smith identified the Fifth Columnist problem very well. It is not the attacks from the outside that cause problem so much as the Fifth Column on the inside that is directly repudiating the prophets.

The Britannica explanation I quoted above continues with this:

A cardinal technique of the fifth column is the infiltration of sympathizers into the entire fabric of the nation under attack and, particularly, into positions of policy decision and national defense. From such key posts, fifth-column activists exploit the fears of a people by spreading rumours and misinformation, as well as by employing the more standard techniques of espionage and sabotage.

The analogy to M2C Fifth Columnists is not exact, IMO, because the LDS M2C Fifth Columnists are not sympathizers with the adversary. As I've suggested many times, they are seeking to vindicate what they thought Joseph Smith taught in the anonymous 1842 Times and Seasons articles. In that sense, they have good intentions.

Nevertheless, the M2C Fifth Columnists have infiltrated effectively. They are in positions at BYU/CES and other areas from which they can exploit the ignorance of the members and spread misinformation about not just their M2C dogma, but also President Cowdery, David Whitmer, and every other Church leader who has spoken or written about the New York Cumorah.

Let's look at an example.

Because of their Mesomania obsession, FairMormon is one of the leaders of the M2C Fifth Column. 

Look how they deal with President Smith's warning. You can read it in full here.


This is very effective Fifth Columnist work. They use classic logical fallacies to obfuscate and mislead readers into accepting their M2C dogma.

Notice, they don't reveal what President Joseph Fielding Smith actually wrote. Instead, they give a summary, characterizing his prophetic warning as a mere "argument." This lowers President Smith's warning to the equivalent of an academic argument so that FairMormon's own argument is on a level playing field.

Well, actually, President Smith's "argument" is beneath FairMormon's level, because the M2C Fifth Columnists always prefer scholars over prophets.

Then, they claim that because President Smith didn't reiterate his warning yet again during the 18 months he served as Church President, his "argument" doesn't amount to much. It doesn't matter that he originally issued his warning in 1938 as Church Historian and a 20-year member of the Twelve, or that he reissued his warning in 1956 as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. He had to republish it again while President of the Church for FairMormon and the other Fifth Columnists to consider his prophet warning as anything more than an academic argument, and a weak one at that.

In good Fifth Columnist fashion, FairMormon refers to an undated private letter in which President Smith allegedly claimed "I have never paid any attention whatever to Book of Mormon geography because it appears to me that it is inevitable that there must be a great deal of guesswork."

This is a classic red herring fallacy. FairMormon is conflating the issue of "Book of Mormon geography," which has been speculative from the outset, with the issue of the "New York Cumorah," which is anything but speculative. The New York Cumorah has been specifically taught by multiple prophets and apostles for over 150 years, and no prophet or apostle has ever taught Cumorah is anywhere else.

Nevertheless, based on this undated private letter, FairMormon asserts this: "Apparently, he did not consider his 1938 argument as settled and definitive or as a measure of doctrinal orthodoxy."

This is the classic mind-reading rhetorical trick that is effective for confirming bias but is fundamentally dishonest, especially compared with what President Smith actually said in his statement:

Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.

For an M2C Fifth Columnist, when a prophet declares about the New York Cumorah that "In very deed such is the case," he really means "he did not consider [the New York Cumorah] as settled and definitive."

President Smith could not have been any clearer. This example shows that there are no words clear and direct enough to pierce the armor of the M2C Fifth Columnist confirmation bias. 

FairMormon goes on to cite 50-year-old hearsay from a student in Sidney Sperry's BYU class to contradict President Smith's teaching about Cumorah. Based on this hearsay, FairMormon gives us another classic conclusion:

"It seems clear, then, that Elder (later President) Smith did not regard his views as the product of revelation, nor did he regard it as illegitimate to have a different view of the matter."

By now, I hope readers can see the compound logical fallacies here, but I'll list a few.

- FairMormon doesn't show readers what President Smith actually taught. Instead, it uses a misleading summary and characterizes his prophetic warning as an academic "argument."

- FairMormon uses 50-year-old hearsay to contradict the explicit and repeated statements of President Smith's regarding the New York Cumorah that "in very deed such is the case."

- FairMormon applies the basic M2C Fifth Columnist approach that elevates scholars over prophets.

- FairMormon uses the rhetorical terminology "Apparently" and "It seems clear" to obfuscate and mislead readers into accepting the M2C Fifth Columnist dogma instead of analyzing the argument critically.

Looking back at my blogs and books, I now realize that what I've described as M2C is really a Fifth Columnist activity.

The seriousness of the problem cannot be overstated, as I'll explain tomorrow.


*I'm not referring to isolated, unofficial statements by General Authorities. I'm referring to the New York Cumorah, which has been taught in General Conference, in at least one book published by the Church itself, and in numerous official Church publications, as well as in various books and articles by General Authorities. It has been consistently taught by many members of the Twelve and the First Presidency and has never been contradicted by a single member of the Twelve or the First Presidency.

** M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that teaches the "real Cumorah" of Mormon 6:6 is in southern Mexico (or anyplace in the world other than in New York), while the "New York hill" where Joseph found the plates was misnamed by unknown early Church members who were ignorant speculators and thereby misled the Church. According to M2C, Joseph Smith passively adopted the false tradition. The M2C citation cartel consists of individuals and groups who promote the M2C theory. This includes FairMormon, BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, and many others. 

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