爾 / Your
Sir Richard Francis Burton, City of the Saints, 1861. Your republic is a land of misnomers: “America” not one nation but a continent, your “Indians” no denizens of a mislocated East. Even your transcontinental throws its yoke not across one imagined country but several. You cannot claim even this territory of the Mormons, those bloody hashashayim as you would call them, their Brigham Young a Shaykh-el-Jebel planning to liberate another newborn Mecca. Just as in Egypt, this Zion, too, was plagued by locusts, its Asiatic fields demolished of maize, the limpid waters so polluted with carcasses, a thirsty mullah in this desert would long for beer. Your nation built a railroad to draw you closer to the East; now you find the East already within you. But such a disappointing version of it! I look in vain for Mormon out-house harems, and find nothing but farmhouses in which the wives are stored like any other stock or grain. Polygamy is conducted with an air of business, the women married not for sex but because servants are more costly here. And yet it’s women over which they would revolt, these Mormons bedeviled by a government that declares polygamy and slavery sister institutions. Congress cannot attack one without infringing on the other, they say, thus “Dixie” do some locals call this place, their favorite toast, "We can rock the cradle of Liberty without Uncle Sam to help us!” Absolute independence, absolute sovereignty is their aim, their Deseret to be exclusive as Tibet to their defensive faith. Your government fears a war with China. But men out here all know the war will come within. How can you subdue what you do not rightly name or know, how transcribe your history without a clearer eye to truth? These Mormons do not even celebrate your “glorious” 4th, transferring those honors instead to a later date that recalls their survival from the locusts. On that day, I walked out of Great Salt Lake to see its cemetery, the one place both sinner and saint might reside together in peace. There, I found a row of women tending crosses, their simple, bonneted heads tucked as they swept the stones, each one carved with a gull wheeling in the marble. Such pretty, powerless things! No hunters like your famous eagle, though according to local legend, it was the gulls that came at last, and devoured all the locusts.