This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Dear Donald Trump,
This week Utahns will celebrate the entrance of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.
Or at least some Utahns will. Others might enjoy a pie and beer party instead. Which is also awesome. To each his own, I always say!
The reason I mention our unique state holiday is that you may not be aware of the reason the Mormons showed up here on July 24, 1847. Um. Let's just say it wasn't for the excellent recreational opportunities that Utah has to offer.
No. The pioneers finally showed up here to get away from folks like Gov. Lilburn Boggs of Missouri, who once issued an extermination order where the Mormons were concerned. (I'm not making this up. I've attached a copy of the order in Boggs' own handwriting for you to peruse. You're welcome!)
Meanwhile, here's part of the letter the governor wrote to Gen. John B. Clark in October 1838:
"Sir: Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Reese, Esq., of Ray county, and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aides, information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this state. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operation with all possible speed. THE MORMONS MUST BE TREATED AS ENEMIES, AND MUST BE EXTERMINATED OR DRIVEN FROM THE STATE IF NECESSARY FOR THE PUBLIC PEACE."
(Author's note: For the record, I capped that last sentence so you wouldn't miss it. You're welcome again!)
Here's the deal. The good people of Missouri viewed Mormons with suspicion. The Mormons were different. They were insular. They didn't play well with others. And, because many Mormons originally hailed from New England, they were automatically viewed by deeply conflicted Missourians as abolitionists who were capable of wielding a fair amount of political power.
You see where I'm going with this, don't you, Mr. Trump?
Oh. Wait a minute. You don't?
OK. Then let me explain. Some of my ancestry is pioneer Mormon (although, interestingly, my non-Mormon ancestors came from you guessed it Missouri! Irony!). Maybe that's why I get a little jumpy whenever politicians start branding an entire group of people as "the enemy." You know. Like Muslims.
Haven't you said repeatedly that there should be a travel ban on all Muslims who want to enter the United States? And haven't you floated the idea that mosques should be closed and that we should create a national registry of Muslims? And when that woman at a recent rally demanded that Muslim women who work for the TSA should not be allowed to wear a hijab, you said hers was an idea you were "looking into"?
I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that some of my fellow Utahns would be less than happy if you substituted the words "Mormons" for "Muslims," "temples" for "mosques" and "ward directories" for "registries." And if you were to follow through on your plans to do unto Mormons as you say you want to do unto Muslims, I guess my tribe and I would just have to go find ourselves another valley to settle, and where's the fun in that?
Meanwhile, here's what I recommend: Listen to what George W. Bush said after 9/11 while clouds of smoke still hung thick over New York City, D.C. and a lonely field in Pennsylvania. He warned against painting all Muslims with one broad ugly brushstroke.
IMHO our former president had that right.
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/anncannontrib.