Into the Archives: The Unanswered Question on Advertised Persecution
Working for the federal government this summer seems to have drained all of the residual creativity that my first year of law school so generously left behind. Go figure. I was looking at old posts today (pre-Sheldon, Chris M.G., et al. - was there ever really such a time?) and noticed that this one never recieved any comments; most likely a sign that it was just a crappy post. But I liked it, and the question still bothers me, so I thought maybe LYMA v. 2.0 could take a crack at it:
Since most of you aren't in New York, you probably have never heard of Falun Dafa. Now I'm sure they are nice people, and from what I understand, they have a good cause. But they seem to have taken over Manhattan sidewalks with their "demonstrations." At the core, these groups usually consist of five or six normal looking people sitting peacefully in meditation. That's fine, and if that were all, I'd have no problem. But surrounding these folks are usually ten or so other people charged with acting out the Chinese government's current methods of torturing the followers of this practice. To compliment this troupe of budding actors, Falun Dafa has chosen to litter the area with incredibly graphic pictures of the flesh wounds and body burns generously handed out by Chinese authorities. This afternoon, while I was walking to lunch thinking about the pleasures of acquatic pesticides and how they may or may not kill lobsters, I was confronted with one of these disturbing reinactments. Needless to say, the whole thing just wierded me out. If meditation is your thing and you want converts, hey, tell me about meditation, but I'm not sure anyone ever joined a movement based on pity alone.
So this led me to another thought. A lot of groups point at persecution as a sign of the rightness of their cause. The early Christians did it; Jews do it; Mormons do it; Republicans do it; African-Americans do it. The list could go on. But the idea that persecution lends credibility to your movement is just a false one. I imagine that the Klan could claim a good bit of "persecution" these days, and I'm pretty sure their movement isn't too credible.
My question is this: If past persecution remains in the past, why bring it up? Why should LDS people even worry about the fact that there was an "extermination order" in Missouri, or that the United States government sent troops in 1857 to occupy Utah? I see a big difference between remembering the past so it doesn't repeat itself and remembering the past so we can all feel sorry for how bad we had it. I'm sure the Falun Daufa people are attempting (in an incredibly roundabout way) to enact change within China as much as they are looking for converts, but how do you guys think this applies in other circumstances?