When I was a teenager in a north suburb of Dallas, Texas (Richardson), our ward and stake used to hold regular and very popular youth dances.
Of course, in order to be be popular for that generation of kids, this music had to be a joyful mix of good ol'classic rock, hard rock and soft rock--otherwise, no kids would dance.
Our stake had a youth dance committee program where we kids would pick tunes from hit songs of the day for playing at these dances.
But we didn't have the final say on what was, well, actually played. You see, our preliminary selections were then reviewed by a Mormon adult authority figure who had the official power and blessing from God to unilaterally nix any song regarded as being inappropriate--i.e, not up to high moral standards required for Mormon youth dances.
Allow me to demonstrate with specific examples:
"BREAD" BE DEAD
As a teenager, I was on one of these youth dance committees that initially (and theoretically) chose the playlists. I was totally into the group, "Bread" (one of the greatest soft-rock bands of the 1970s). I particularly liked their moving soft-rock ballad, "Sweet Surrender."
Here it is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB10NmTPwuw
Unfortunately for my choice and the concurring choice of my fellow teens, my dad was appointed as the adult overseer assigned the solemn priesthood responsibility of approving or tanking any of our desired tunes.
He came over one evening to the home of a ward member where we kids had gathered to choose the classic rock tunes for our next dance. My dad saw the title of one of my selected songs and proceeded to give the official heave-ho to "Bread's" timeless ballad, "Sweet Surrender."
I was stunned and upset. He didn't even bother to listen to the tune or read the lyrics (which was no small issue since, listening to the link provided, one can hardly call it hard rock).
So, I asked my dad why he kill-joyed it.
He said it was the song's title: "Sweet Surrender."
I asked him what was wrong with the title (it was, after all, a sweet love song).
To understand my dad's reason for beheading "Bread," it should be noted that during this time of my life the Vietnam war was still raging. My dad said that the title of the song was actually a message to the youth of America to surrender to the Vietnamese Communists (who, he believed, were not only Communists but were being backed by Moscow's Marxists in a worldwide conspiracy to destroy America and eventually take over the planet).
It is appropriate to note here that the John Birch Society (which my grandfather fervently supported as being the most effective weapon--outside the Mormon Church, that is--in fighting Communism, and to which my mother belonged), believed that "The Beatles" were actually trained in Russia by the Commie Soviets in the dark art of rock 'n roll--before being set loose on the world to spark revolution in America, destroy its cherished values and lead away its young people into thw swamps of sin and socialism.
What did I tell you, son? Back in the U.S.S.R.:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pvXRl21lB8
But I told my dad that "Sweet Surrender" was a simple love song.
It was to no avail.
And that was only the tip of the iceberg.
SHOW "THE DOORS" THE DOOR
During that same period in my teenage years, one evening our Richardson, Texas, ward MIA group reserved the local city rec center for a night of shooting hoops, consuming Mormon-approved refreshments and engaging in other good, wholesome fun.
Alas, over the rec center's PA system (operated by the facility's non-Mormon staffers) was playing the classic rock tune by Jim Morrison and "The Doors," that sultry and soul-destroying "Light My Fire."
Here it is, from a "Doors" concert:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw40NMa_0RM
My mother was very upset about such devil music poisoning our LDS youth-group activity and wanted it stopped immediately. Despite her request, I refused to go to the non-Mormon management and ask that "Light My Fire" be doused. As a born-in-the-bed faithful Mormon boy, even I had my limits.
I recently recounted the above episodes to a non-Mormon friend of mine who was utterly astounded, remarking in complete disbelief, "You need to write a book. THat's worse than Jim Jones!"
(OK, that last part may have been a bit over the top but was said to dramatize her complete shock and awe. Jim Jones, of course, was the crazed cult leader who set up a brainwashing camp for his followers in Guyana, where in 1978 over 900 of his true-believing worshippers were murdered by Jones' armed guards, or commiited suicide en masse by "drinking the Kool-Aid,"" Jones looked around, saw that it was good and shot himself in the head. For a report on the "Jonestown Massacre," see the BBC article, "1978: Mass Suicide Leaves 900 Dead," at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/november/18/newsid_2540000/2540209.stm
To properly understand the mindset in which the insidious, devil-sinspired, propaganda-pulsing, classic-rock throbs of groups like "Bread" and "The Doors" were banned in my little Mormon corner of the world, one only needs to be reminded of the insane influence of right-wing zealot W. Cleon Skousen and his gospel-singing groupie--my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson:
From Commie Basher To Rock 'n Roll Trasher: the Legacy of the Late, Latter-Day Looney Cleon Skousen
W. Cleon Skousen was, without a doubt, a real piece of work who, despite his schmoozings of top Mormon leadership, ultimately became an official LDS embarrassment. In other words, for that to happen you know he had to be completely wacked.
A few years removed now from Skousen's death, below are some observations assembled from my personal Ezra Taft Benson and Skousen files (combined with research from other sources in my home library) on Skousen's colorful, controversial and kooky life and his bizarre mix of apocalyptic religious/political beliefs:
CLEON CLINGS ON TO McKAY: SKOUSEN'S INSIDE TRACK WITH THE MORMON CHURCH HIERARCHY
--President David O. McKay's Official Mormon Church Blessing of Skousen's Radical Right-wing Agenda
In 1962 LDS General Conference, McKay recommended that members of the Church avail themselves of Skousen’s book, "The Naked Communist," declaring:
“I admonish everybody to read that excellent book of [former FBI agent and then-Salt Lake City Police] Chief Skousen’s.”
(David O. McKay, “Preach the Word,” Improvement Era, 62 [December 1959], p. 912, quoted in D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], p. 82)
In his officially Mormon-blessed book, Skousen warned readers to be on the alert against a worldwide Marxist revolution dedicated to ". . . the total annihilation of all opposition, the downfall of all existing governments, all economies and all societies,” through the creation of “a regimented breed of Pavlovian men whose minds could be triggered into immediate action by signals from their masters.”
Hmmmm Sounds like Mormons.
To fight the international Red menace, Skousen extolled Brigham Young University as a pre-eminent religious training ground in the “war of ideologies” and urged concerned parents:
“We should not sit back and wait for our boys and girls to be indoctrinated with materialistic dogma and thereby make themselves vulnerable to a Communist conversion when they are approached by the agents of force and fear who come from across the sea.”
(W. Cleon Skousen, "The Naked Communist" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Ensign Publishing Company, 1958], pp. 2, 377-378)
SKEPTICAL OF SKOUSEN'S RABID RADICALISM: AN OPPOSING NON-MORMON VIEW
Shining an altogether different light on Skousen’s work, Richard Dudam, author of the book, "Men of the Far Right," wrote:
“Skousen’s book, 'The Naked Communist,' is a Bible of the right-wing movement and is promoted heavily by many of the extremist groups. In it, he asserts that the first Russian sputnik was built with plans stolen from the United States after World War II and that President Batista, the former Cuban dictator, was really a sincere, pro-labor, popular ruler.
"Skousen advises legislators to overthrow Supreme Court restrictions on actions against persons suspected of being communists. He urges businessmen . . . to seek help from the American Security Council [a Chicago-based group of ‘right-wing military men and businessmen’ that operated ‘a private loyalty-security blacklist where employers could check their employees and job applicants for indications of left-wing connections’].”
SKOUSEN'S BEWILDERING BACKGROUND
--Salt Lake City’s Fired Totalitarian Police Chief
Skousen was removed from his post as Salt Lake’s police chief by then-city mayor J. Bracken Lee, who called him “an incipient Hitler” who “ran the [SLC] police department in exactly the same manner as the Communists in Russia operate their government.”
(Dudman, "Men of the Far Right" [New York, New York: Pyramid Books, 1962], pp. 127-28)
--Super Supporter of Far-Right Anti-Communist Crusades
Skousen was an active barnstormer and speaker for Fred C. Schwartz’s ”Christian Anti-Communist Crusade.” "Life Magazine" noted that Schwartz “preached doomsday by Communism in 1973 unless every American starts distrusting his neighbor.”
(Dudman, pp. 8, 118)
--Die-hard Defender of the John Birch Society Against Alleged International Communist Plotters
Although not an official member of the John Birch Society, Skousen was a divinely-demented supporter, serving as an active cohort in its “'American Opinion' Speakers Bureau,” which included among its Far Right allies my uncle and high-ranking Birch Society officer, Reed Benson.
(Benjamin R. Epstein and Arnold Forster, "Report on the John Birch Society, 1966" [New York, New York: Vintage Books, 1966], p. 95.
In 1963, Skousen published a pamphlet, “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society,” in which he claimed that the Birch Society had been “dishonestly ridiculed and smeared at the instigation of the international Communist conspiracy.”
He further claimed that the Birch Society was “marked for annihilation because it was becoming highly successful in awakening the American people.”
He also accused Americans who criticized Birchers as “promoting the official Communist party line.”
(Skousen, “The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Ensign Publishing Company, 1963], pp. 11-12)
SKOUSEN'S INCENDIARY CLAIM THAT COMMUNISTS WERE BEHIND ATTACKS ON THE MORMON CHURCH'S RACIST ANTI-BLACK DOCTRINE
In 1970, amid growing college protests against BYU sports teams for the LDS Church’s anti-Black priesthood policy, Skousen published a tabloid featuring the screaming headline, “The Communist Attack on the Mormons.”
The article asserted that " . . . [professional] Communist-oriented revolutionary groups have been spearheading the wave of protests and violence directed toward Brigham Young University and the Mormon Church,” [employing] “Marxism and Maoism as their ideological base and terror tactics as their method . . . .”
Skousen warned that Communists were plotting to manipulate press reports into depicting the Mormon Church as being “rich, priest-ridden, racist, super-authoritarian and conservative to the point of being archaically reactionary.”
Actually, Cleon, that depiction's true.
Skousen claimed that, in fact, the Mormon Church was one of the Communists’ “prime TARGETS FOR ATTACK” because it is “STRONGLY PRO-AMERICAN” and that the ‘Negro-priesthood issue” was being used as a “SMOKESREEN” to “further their ulterior motives.”
Citing Ezra Taft Benson’s speech, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception,” he warned that Communist-inspired assaults on the Mormon Church were designed to " . . . create resentment and hatred between the races by distorting the religious tenet of the Church regarding the Negro and blowing it up to ridiculous proportions."
(“Special Report by National Research Group,” American Fork, Utah, 84003, March 1970, p. 1, emphasis in original)
SKOUSEN'S FOUNDING OF THE EXTREMIST, BOOK OF MORMON-BASED FREEMAN INSTITUTE AND HIS SOLICITATION OF EZRA TAFT BENSON'S SUPPORT
Skousen eventually established the Freeman Institute in Provo, Utah. The group derived its name from the Book of Mormon's fictional cast of “freemen” and initially drew many Mormon Birchers into its ranks.
My father, Mark Benson, was the Institute’s “Vice President in Charge of Development” and my grandfather formally spoke at its membership gatherings.
(Quinn, pp. 109-111).
SKOUSEN'S DIRE WARNING TO EZRA TAFT BENSON OF AN INTERNATIONAL SCHEME FOR ONE-WORLD GOVERNMENT, ORCHESTRATED BY WALL STREET BANKERS
In a letter sent to my grandfather (which, despite its form-fundraising format, my grandfather marked in red pen with a handwritten notation, “Confidential”), Skousen warned:
". . . [The] so-called ‘Council on Foreign Relations’ [has been] “set up . . . to groom ambitious one-world political personalities for leadership in all major departments of the American government from the President on down. . . .
“Their latest triumph was the election of Jimmy Carter. . . .”
Skousen ominously claimed that “members of the Establishment have directed foreign policy from Wall Street in the past.” He told my grandfather that because of President Gerald R. Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and other “master-planners,” the “foreign-policy establishment of Wall Street bankers and lawyers . . . moved into the very heart of the Establishment and took over.”
Skousen further declared:
“I wonder how people who say there is ‘no such thing as a conspiracy’ will deal with this one?”
He also forewarned Ezra Taft Benson that the one-world planners intended to celebrate the upcoming “200[th] anniversary of the United States Constitution by scrapping it.”
In an apocalyptic conclusion to his not-so-secret letter, Skousen, under the sub-heading “We Need Millions of Freemen,” told my grandfather:
“I don’t know how all this affects you, but it puts a fire in my veins. [That's where Cleon needs 'The Doors'' 'C'mon Baby, Light My FIre'].
"I hope that in this coming year we can double or triple the number of Freemen and eventually we can challenge these advocates of world serfdom and drive them out of power. . . . I pray it will happen soon. And we must do everything we can to help make it happen. That’s what you are helping to accomplish, and I am grateful to you for your support.
“See you next month!”
(W. Cleon Skousen, letter to “Elder Benson,” January 1977, copy in my possession)
SKOUSEN'S FULL-THROATED ASSAULT ON SATANIC ROCK MUSIC--WITH EZRA TAFT BENSON'S FULL-HEARTED ENCOURAGEMENT
In my personal library I discoverd a book that once belonged to my grandfather entitled, "Rock 'N' Reality: Mirrors of Rock Music--Its Relationship to Sex, Drugs, Family and Religion," by Mormon author and BYU graduate E. Lynn Balmforth [Hawkes Publications: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1971].
My grandfather apparently had a special fondness for this thin, paperback volume. He had signed his name in his big, flamboyant style above the title on the front cover, along with noting in the upper right-hand corner of same, "Return to E.T.B." He further autographed the inside of the front cover, along with noting the date--February 18, 1972--that he received it. He very much seemed to want to make sure he never lost it.
Actually, my grandfather had lost it a long time ago.
The book's "Preface" was authored by Skousen, obviously one of Ezra Taft Benson's closest ideological allies. My grandfather had dog-earred the first page of that section and underlined several of its passages in ballpoint pen.
In the left-hand margin next to the third and fourth paragraphs of the first page, respectively, he wrote the words "on card" and "card," indicating that he wanted these particular passages transferred to his typed-card file, which he used as a sermon resource.
My grandfather highlighted, via underlining and/or margin brackets, the following from Skousen's words of warning:
"We've combined youth, music, sex, drugs, and rebellion with treason!
"This was the way Jerry Rubin, chieftain of the Yippies, described the current assault on America's up-coming generation in his book, 'DO IT!'
"Later, in a speech at Salt Lake City, Utah, he [Rubin] said: 'Rock 'n' Roll is the center of the Revolution!'
"Americans are well aware that there has been a revolution. In morals. In manners. In speech. In crime rates. In riots. In violence. In drugs. In sex. In pornography. In politics. In movies. In education. In music.
"What most of us failed to realize at the moment was how important the music revolution would become. It turned out to be the catalyst for all the rest. It became the prod to promote drugs, the advertiser of sex in the hedonism manner, the mind-conditioner for four-letter gutter speech, and eventually the blatant propaganda funnel for political subversion. It also became the seductive Jezebel for a modern philosophy of no God, of Man as merely a graduate beast of the jungle, of Jesus Christ as a phoney actor--a superstar, of peace and prosperity being possible only under communism, of America as the enemy of the world, of Russia as the hope of the world."
Turning the page, Skousen continued his tirade against rock music, while my grandfather's marking pen took a momentary break:
"Just as a sampler, here are the lyrics to America's number-one-hit-recording at the moment of this writing. It is by John Lennon and is called, 'Imagine.'
'Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people,
Living for today.
'Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.
'Imagine no possessions.
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger--
A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world.
'You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us,
And the world will be as one.'"
How about we let John Lennon speak for himself?:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq7qZrXYtvk
Skousen continued his message of clear-and-present danger:
"I observe that many young people have taken from this song only the theme of 'brotherhood' and 'all the world for all the people.'"
At this point, Ezra Taft Benson's marking pen picked up again, as he underlined Skousen's next words:
"However, the professional debunkers who were behind the engineering of this song took colossal satisfaction from the fact that they are succeeding in getting tens of millions of young Americans to mouth the artfully-planted brain teasers of 'no heaven,' 'no hell,' 'above us only sky,' 'no countries,' 'nothing to kill or die for,' 'no religion,' 'no possessions,' and 'all the world as one.'"
At this point, my grandfather's marking notes temporarily ceased, as Skousen climatically rolled forth:
"Yes, it's turning out to be quite a revolution."
Skousen somberly concluded the "Preface" with this gloomy prediction, highlighted once more by Ezra Taft Benson's pen:
"The problem expertly treated in ths book by Mr. Balmforth is of historical significance. This problem may turn out to be a major factor which contributed to the downfall of civilization."
THE MORMON CHURCH FINALLY PUTS OFFICIAL DISTANCE BETWEEN ITSELF AND SKOUSEN
Following McKay’s death, the LDS Church “found it necessary to counter the now-familiar pattern of Mormon ultra-conservatives to imply church endorsement.”
(Quinn, p. 110)
In a letter “[t]o All Stake Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in the United States,” the First Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball dictated the following, gingerly-worded order:
“It has come to our attention that in some areas announcements have been made in Church meetings of lectures to be given by those connected with the Freeman Institute. This is to inform you that no announcements should be made in Church meetings of these, or other similar, lectures or events that are not under the sponsorship of the Church.
“This instruction is not intended to express any disapproval of the right of the Freeman Institute and its lecturers to conduct such meetings or of the contents of the lectures. The only purpose is to make certain that neither Church facilities nor Church meetings are used to advertise such events and to avoid any implication that the Church endorses what is said during such lectures.”
(letter from the Office of the First Presidency, Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 15 February 1979, copy in my possession)
Today, as a heathen-Stephen hobby, I DJ dance parties, specializing in good ol' classic rock, hard rock and soft rock (with some Black Eyed Peas http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IDrg1zaIm8
, Perry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGJuMBdaqIwand
, Beyonce http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FxZZj5S0uQ
, and Gaga http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl0N7JM3wZk
thrown in for good measure)
C'mon, baby, light my fire as we journey through the wonderful world of sweet surrender. :)
Edited 32 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2013 02:03PM by steve benson.