| Mormon GA J. Reuben Clark was a rabid anti-Semite, a Hitler sympathizer--
. . . and an anti-Black bigot.
A review of D. Michael Quinn's biography, "Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2002), offers this brutal assessment of the man, accurately described as Clark's "seamier side":
"As a Jew, I found his [Clark's] views utterly contemptible: 'There was one group . . . for whom Reuben expressed lifelong dislike and distrust-the Jewish people. In a 1942 letter to Herbert Hoover, he said the Jews 'are brilliant, they are able, they are unscrupulous, and they are cruel.' Part of this explanation for his anti-Semitism was personal and part political. He expressed contempt for `the foul sewage of Europe' in his 1898 valedictory, yet Mormons had traditionally gotten along very well with the small population of Jews in Utah" (p. 325). He never passed up an opportunity to express his contempt for Jews. After serving more than 10 years in the First Presidency, he wrote, 'I long ago ceased reading his [Walter Lippmann's] stuff, because he veers like a weather-vane, but I am sure always true when the wind blows from Jew-ward' (p. 328).
"In February 1941, the 'New York Times' reported that Berlin's Nazi Party newspaper referred to the necessity of 'eliminating all Jews.' This was an echo of the LDS newspaper's headline in 1938, 'Death for 700,000 Jews Threatened: Semites Must Get Out or Die, Nazis Declare.' Even this stark Utah report gave less than one-tenth of Adolf Hitler's goal of killing every Jew in Europe. During the balance of 1941 and increasingly thereafter, newspapers in every major American city reported specific examples of the mass execution of Jews throughout Nazi-controlled Europe. In apparent response to such reports, LDS author N. L. Nelson wrote a book against Hitler in the early months of 1941 and referred to the Nazi 'butchery' of the Jews:
"'In his June reply to Nelson's manuscript, Reuben defended Hitler and added, "There is nothing in their history which indicates that the Jewish race have [sic] either free-agency or liberty. `Law and order' are not facts for the Jews"' (p. 335).
"Clark's attitudes toward Blacks was equally reprehensible. Along with others of his time, he opposed intermarriage and supported the common practice of segregating blood supplies in hospitals to ensure that no white person would be infused with blood from a Black person, and thus either invalidate his priesthood or disqualify him from future priesthood. But as time progressed, so did his attitude toward Blacks. As the Church extended its missionary efforts into South America and determining blood lines became more difficult, he came to something of an accommodation in the case of some Brazilians, even 'wondering whether we could not work out a plan, while not conferring the priesthood as such upon them, we could give them opportunity to participate in the work certainly of the Aaronic Priesthood grades. (p. 354).'
"His vision of an enlarged priesthood exceeded that of Brigham Young's. He saw a time when Blacks would hold full priesthood privileges (and not necessarily subject to Young's prediction that this would not happen until every worthy white male received the priesthood).
"No such growth is seen in his attitude toward Jews. He remained a steadfast anti-semite until his death. And in the case of Blacks and other racial minorities, Clark argued for the civil rights of such folk, without also arguing their spiritual equality. Quinn ends this chapter in much the same way he ends other chapters. But in this case, I was disturbed: 'J. Reuben Clark was clearly a product of the 19th century. He alternately accepted and resisted the 20th century's changing views of race and ethnicity. But supreme to him were the majesty of the law, the principle of justice for all humanity, and the expansiveness of the latter-day gospel' (p. 360).
"Given Clark's refusal to condemn the attempted extermination of the Jews by Nazi Germany, it seems that his view of 'justice for all humanity' was somewhat constricted. I would have appreciated this exception being noted in Quinn's too-broad, in my view, statement."
As Germany rose to a position of regained strength prior to World War II (after its disastrous defeat in World War I as the war's instigating aggressor, whereupon it was punished severely by the Treaty of Versailles), it did not help matters that Clark--a former Undersecretary of State in the Calvin Coolidge administration and a high-ranking General Authority--was such a virulent anti-Semite. Clark eventually passed along some notorious anti-Jewish propaganda to my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson (see repost of RFM contributor "baura," at: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php2,...; for a history of Mormon German support of Hitler and the Nazis, see: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2...)
More on Clark's Anti-Black prejudice:
"Utah's racial discrimination did not occur by happenstance nor did it continue into modern times by accident. It was promoted by the highest leaders of the state's dominant church. As late as 1941, Counselor J. Reuben Clark used the word [rhymes with 'trigger'] in his First Presidency office diary."
"In 1953, a First Presidency secretary informed a white Mormon that '[t]he L.D.S. Hospital here in Salt Lake City has a blood bank which does not contain any colored blood.' According to presidency counselor J. Reuben Clark, this policy of segregating African-American blood from the blood donated by so-called 'white people' was intended 'to protect the purity of the blood streams of the people of this Church.'"
So, BYU names its law school after him.