Dead Serious

Round them up and ship them to a camp somewhere.

Over the last several years, a painter in Utah named Jon McNaughton has been trying to make a name for himself by using the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a prop in politically provocative pictures which attempt to communicate his apparent belief that only people who hold political views consistent with those of the current American political extreme right wing are in harmony with the Lord’s Gospel and, in fact, acceptable to God.

Round them up and ship them to a camp somewhere.

Round them up and ship them to a camp somewhere.

McNaughton’s latest provocation, shown above, is titled “Liberalism Is a Disease” and depicts people he has judged to be “liberals” as quarantined on a desert island. He portrays an elephant and a donkey in an apparent attempt to show that he is equally critical of both Republicans and Democrats in his crusade against “Liberalism” as a disease. But even being a fellow endowed Latter-day Saint in good standing, i.e., a brother in the Kingdom of God, does not save one from being rounded up with the rest of the politically undesirable “liberals,” as Senator Harry Reid’s presence in the camp reveals.

The Forgotten Man by Maynard Dixon, 1934, Oil on Canvas, Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

The Forgotten Man by Maynard Dixon, 1934, Oil on Canvas, Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

In the past, McNaughton’s works have been merely laughable. They have included absurd, superficial pictures which he believes are fraught with symbolism depicting President Obama holding a burning Constitution, President Obama treading on the Constitution with other current and historical figures joining him in the ridicule of an oppressed white man sitting dejectedly on a bench (an image shamelessly ripped off from an actually great artist, Maynard Dixon, whose 1934 painting “The Forgotten Man”, shown right, has inspired generations of people with a conscience to improve themselves by looking around them and lifting up the downtrodden among us), a Viking, Aragorn-esque Jesus Christ complete with white tree of Gondor emblazoned on his chest holding up the United States Constitution and sorting society as wheat and tares or sheep and goats, with people or professions that McNaughton stereotypes as “liberals” naturally appearing with Satan at his left, to name a few. These have merited merely a humorous response such as a couple of fun rounds of haiku creation here at BCC (e.g., Karen’s “Come Ye Poets of the Bloggernacle” post from September 29, 2009, updated on April 26, 2011 and Matsby’s post about the discovery of “Jon McNaughton’s Idea Journal”).

Artistically, this picture is laughable too. Now, however, Jon McNaughton is suggesting concentration camps. The disease metaphor is a real concern — it is a staple of totalitarian dictatorships. I believe that most such regimes on record have used this metaphor in their goal to gather up and isolate or eliminate “undesirables,” whether in the given context such “undesirables” are liberals in fascist totalitarian dictatorships or religious people/political traditionalists (i.e. “conservatives”) in communist or other utopian dictatorships.

This is a real concern because McNaughton creates these pictures to satisfy a particular demand. My impression is that his pictures enjoy some level of popularity in his local Latter-day Saint community (i.e. the Wasatch Front, which includes his home in Utah County but extends far along the reaches of the “Mormon Corridor” from Southern Idaho down through Southern Arizona) and even among a certain demographic nationwide in the United States. Thus, these pictures say something about us as a people that is not flattering. It was not very long ago that we as Mormons were the politically undesirable element in society and subject to an “extermination order” meant to expel us from the boundaries of civil society. (“Nits make lice” — commonly repeated by Mormons as a quote from one of the perpetrators of the Haun’s Mill massacre, and not too different than the disease metaphor.) Now McNaughton wants to put us as Mormons on the side of people designating others as a “disease” afflicting society, therefore deserving to be rounded up and put into concentration camps.

McNaughton posted the following essay explaining his new picture:

What Do You Mean Liberalism Is A Disease?

My name is Jon McNaughton

I like to paint pictures that express how I feel about what is happening in America.

We have a disease. It’s infecting every aspect of our society and it’s time we did something about it.

Some of these people I really like and some I don’t, but for the sake of our health, our children and our sanity, we need to take drastic action quickly.

What if we could bring them all together, put them on a desert island and quarantine them for say a hundred years?

They believe they have all the answers to everything. But every liberal idea I’ve ever seen has led to total failure. If they were right, their new island home would be a utopia before long.

Let’s look at the most liberal communities in the country. New York City, Detroit, Chicago . . . how are they doing?

Yes, I say let’s quarantine them and let nature take its course.

McNaughton asks, “How has any liberal idea ever ended well?” The Declaration of Independence was a profoundly “liberal idea”; in fact, it was outright radical. Politically, it placed the colonies in open Rebellion against the long established political order of Great Britain, a monarchy buttressed by the most conservative religious ideologies imaginable. Philosophically, it collected the most liberal political theories of government and the rights of man into a cohesive statement of self-determination. The “conservative” establishment in both politics and religion were outraged by it, though the “liberal” factions of society, both in all societies of Europe and in the then existing world of letters, almost uniformly rejoiced. The Constitution of the United States of America was another such “liberal idea” when it was drafted in the 1780s. Though we can all find things to criticize in the resulting polity it created, I think that the United States of America has been a beneficial result of a “liberal idea.”

Jon McNaughton is free to express his ideas — even dangerous ideas such as that people with certain philosophical opinions and political views are like a “disease” and that it might be a good idea to round them up and put them in a concentration camp — precisely thanks to the rights abstractly identified in the Declaration of Independence (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) and guaranteed more specifically in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights (as interpreted and applied by the Supreme Court in the intervening centuries). Freedom of religion, conscience, speech, the press, and assembly are among those addressed first in the Bill of Rights. In other words, Jon McNaughton owes his living — earned by feeding off the political malaise among the demographic to which he caters — to the “liberal idea” behind the Bill of Rights. Setting aside the priestcraft concerns that his pictures arguably raise within our religious community (commodifying the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a prop in such political pictures and using it to help him sell those pictures), he is completely free to do this in American civil society. But if the demand for McNaughton’s pictures essentially indicates that he “speaks for” a particular demographic through these pictures, it reveals the existence of truly alarming and dangerous ideas.

Thankfully, people who do not share McNaughton’s views that politically undesirable citizens (whether on the left or right) should be regarded as a disease, rounded up, and put in concentration camps are guaranteed the same freedom to oppose such harmful views. And they should argue against them forcefully.

In the comments, rather than showing off brilliant haikus in response to McNaughton’s new picture, please provide examples of totalitarian regimes or other despotic powers that have used the “disease” metaphor to dispose of elements of society that they have deemed undesirable, unhealthy, or evil.

Please also respond to McNaughton’s descriptions of the depicted individuals in his picture. A mouseover appears for most of the images depicted in the picture. If you have a response to one or more such descriptions, I would suggest copying McNaughton’s description into the comment and providing your response.


  1. True art is so rarely recognized as such in its own time. . .

  2. Aden Van Dish says:

    I didn’t see a link to the picture (with McNaughton’s mouseover texts) in the post, so here it is:

  3. has his full descriptions, since his symbolism can sometimes be too opaque;)

    I love the evil liberal spotted owl. Also, Stephen Colbert is a “closet liberal?” Wow, he hides his liberalism well. Also, I suspect someone needs to inform Brother McNaughton of the definition of satire. Also Carville is a “nice guy, but may be a shape shifter.”
    McNaughton is always good for a laugh.

  4. Let the contemporary kitsch be known for what it is.

  5. “My name is Jon McNaughton.

    I like to paint pictures that express how I feel…”


  6. Bad timing with the tornado.

  7. Publius says:
  8. Appeals were made for Hutu unity against a common Tutsi enemy, and Hutu were imparted a moral and social obligation to eliminate the inyenzi (literally ‘cockroaches’, a derogatory name for the Tutsi rebels) and the ibyitso (their accomplices within Rwanda).
    RAVI BHAVNANI. 2006. From Ethnic Norms and Interethnic Violence:
    Accounting for Mass Participation in the Rwandan Genocide. Journal of Peace Research 43, no. 6, 2006, pp. 651–669.

    McNaughton is the most anti-American critic I know. He understands neither its history or purpose. Yes, of such are hate crimes born. As we all know diseases are to be eliminated, as the pest infestation referenced above was to be eradicated. A pity his brand of ignorance is spreading.

  9. it's a series of tubes says:

    “priestcraft”? Puh-leeze. As other commenters have noted in recent threads on other topics, using labels too broadly trivializes the actual instances when the label applies.

    McNaughton is a space cadet, but this isn’t priestcraft.

  10. observer fka eric s says:

    McNaughton’s style is to present a realism of personalities, but then he throws in distracting surrealist features and confusing icons. Apocalyptic tornados in NYC? He has the Grim Reaper in there as a liberal. Why is the running-immigrant family sign in there? I don’t get that reference, as it is typically associated with ultra conservative groups like the Minutemen Project. Last time I checked, the major cities he suggests are decaying and diseased are actually centers of cultural, explosive creativity and a wealth of the humanities.

  11. Capozaino says:

    “Satan: Number One Liberal, everyone knows that Satan is an advocate for control and less freedom for the individual.”

    Wikipedia: “Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and private property.”

    I’m pretty sure that McNaughton doesn’t know what the word “liberal” means, or he wouldn’t have applied it to someone who is an advocate for less freedom.

  12. truly shocking ignorance

  13. It’s always troubling when people take the position that anyone who doesn’t share their particular group’s views is somehow less righteous and should either be forced to go along with those views or else be exiled altogether. This can obviously afflict individuals on all sides of political, social, and religious debates. But I can’t help thinking of D&C 84:110. “Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.” As children of God and fellow citizens on this earth, we need to make room for each other and find ways to heal each other’s pain, not cut each other off from the body.

  14. “priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Nephi 26:29)

  15. .

    radical program to purify and perfect mankind . . . must be done in a scientific manner. The inescapable sequence of scientific steps is as follows, some of which will be further discussed in more or less detail:

    1. Destruction of the Capitalistic System, the root of all evil, by a violent revolution.
    Institution of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
    2. Liquidation of those classes of society incurably diseased by capitalism and considered dangerously infective.
    3. Segregation of those diseased but capable of useful work in conditions of isolation.
    4. Hospitalization of the diseased but curable in “corrective” labor camps. . . .

  16. I’m reminded that purity is a matter of totality, and hence a matter of expanding inclusion.

    It is not a matter of cutting out the supposedly sickened parts.

  17. I recently read a book on the Holocaust (sorry for quickly violating Godwin’s Law here). As many know, homosexuals and those with mental illness were rounded up and sent to camps. Many were subjected to horrific “scientific” experiments and killed. Suggesting that a certain group be sequestered based on political affiliation or ideals mocks the very constitution McNaughton seems to love. There would be no quicker way to defile the Constitution than to persecute any individual based on political persuasion. I could have told you that in the second grade.

    Reading the artist’s explanations of each of the subjects is a pretty good time. I’ll just comment on one. He refers to Steven Colbert as a “closet liberal”. If anyone has watched his show for more than 1/2 a second they would know that there is nothing ‘closeted’ about his political views. That’s what makes his show so derned brilliant…it’s satire, people!

  18. .

    Well said, Thomas.

    (just noticed the new layout doesn’t number the comments—how’re the long threads going?)

  19. it's a series of tubes says:

    “priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Nephi 26:29)

    Exactly, John. Looking at this definition, together with the related instances from the BoM (Alma 1, 3 Nephi 16 and 30), what McNaughton does isn’t priestcraft, even by a very liberal stretching of the word. It’s usually a good idea to exercise restraint when using such loaded words against a fellow saint, even when that fellow saint shows no such restraint himself.

  20. Whatever this artists aims and intents, he has succeeded in poking a stick into your beehive John F to solicit this much hyperventilating. The Left and the Right have loonies – and water is wet.

  21. oh, and I think the artist is very opportunistic – he knows his target market very well – probably looks to see who is buying Glenn Beck’s books, gold, and prepper supplies and knows that he’s got a sure-fire winner.

  22. In line with your request to “provide examples of totalitarian regimes or other despotic powers that have used the “disease” metaphor to dispose of elements of society that they have deemed undesirable, unhealthy, or evil”:

    Quite likely no group within our western experience has been more identified as a “disease” to be removed from the body politic than the Jews, especially in eastern Europe. Their experience has even given us the word for the violent destruction of an unwanted population: pogrom. That’s a word perhaps unknown to McNaughton, but he’s certainly nailed the concept it represents.

  23. “truly shocking ignorance”

    Yup. Couldn’t say it better with 100 times the words – but . . .

    How about the Pharisees in the time of Jesus and their practical isolation of people based on the broadest, most subjective terms imaginable – including those, like Jesus, who associated with them? If we are going to categorize McNaughton’s work accurately, we would have to do so in a way that is akin to Godwin’s Law, since his attack on liberalism (as he defines it) would include Jesus of Nazareth on that island (and Joseph Smith, as well).

    I’m not equating Jesus with Joseph or anyone in the picture – or making any broad political statement, but I am saying McNaughton has no clue about the subjects he addresses. He is an ignorant buffoon.

  24. In his definition of Satan, Jon McNaughton inveighs that Jesus was not a liberal.

  25. MDearest says:

    I ran across this this the other day. My only thoughts were “my goodness, how he sucks as a painter!” and a vague recognition that the content was an expression of his sense of humor; he thinks he’s being witty.

    Otherwise, I’m in agreement with Mandy, we need everybody on board, and we need to heal our political discourse to make room for everyone. Sometimes I’m conservative, but not so much that I agree with the crackpot idea that liberals like James Carville, Harry Reid, and Matt Damon (snort) should be quarantined from the rest of society. At other times I’m liberal, but not so much that I feel outrage when I see McNaughton’s latest effort at self-promotion. Most times I feel politically schizophrenic, that there’s no comfortable place for me. My guiding political ethos is that the majority in power, instead of throwing their weight around to have everything their way, should bear the responsibility of helping to assure that those in the minority have their needs considered as well. I haven’t yet found a political party that espouses that.

    I have family members who would love his work, if only I’d expose them to it. (I won’t) One in particular often expresses their position that they are looking forward to the second coming when all godless sinners, heathens, and liberals (read Democrats) will be cleansed from the earth. Like any trollish notion, I don’t engage or otherwise feed that. It’s likely more useful to examine myself for sheep vs. goat tendencies.

  26. I just can’t get worked up over Jonny McNo right now. That’s a clown painting, bro.

  27. Am I the only one who had to check it out to see if my favorites made the cut? Can we start a list of “Liberals” he missed? ;)

  28. I’ve always thought he’s a terrible painter. But he’s really a terrible human, too.

  29. The cheery wikipedia article on genocide informs me that there’s a theoretical model of the 8 stages of genocide, with number one, “Classification,” and number three, “Dehumanization” being particularly relevant. “One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects, or diseases.” Hm.

  30. I’ve only spent three of the last 15 years in Utah, so maybe I don’t know anymore, but isn’t McNaughton a niche within a niche kind of guy? I personally don’t know anybody who would buy or even likes his stuff, and I know some pretty conservative people.

    Although on second thought, I have known a few people who would probably be McNaughton fans. But even when I lived in Utah, other conservatives treated the kind of people I’m thinking of as “crazy uncle” types who were to be endured more than listened to.

    My guess is that McNaughton is far more marginal than this blog gives him credit. Crazies do crazy things. I’m sure he loves all the attention he gets and feels all the more justified for the outrage that he provokes.

    Almost everyone else in the church is ignoring him, why not BCC? Don’t feed the trolls.

  31. “Almost everyone else in the church is ignoring him” — Are you sure? I am not so sure. FB provides evidence to the contrary. His pictures exist because there is a demand for them. My sense is there are many Latter-day Saints who share his views — and those are his audience. That is why there is cause for concern.

  32. I think you’d be surprised, Lorin. More conservative than the average Mormon corridor Mormon, sure. But the same group that supports Mike Lee and the tea party isn’t exactly marginal, although they should be.

  33. BYU at one point sold his paintings, and I’ve certainly seen them (both seriously and mockingly) on Facebook.

  34. How about the World War I era Committee on Public Information (Creel Commission) and its efforts to demonize the Germans to grow support for America’s entry into the war. Whoever did that poster on Wikipedia is ten times the artist that McNaughton is. John Bro should take some lessons.

  35. Al Gore looks more like Jon Stewart than Jon Stewart does.

  36. *groan…my HTML tag FAIL is right up there for everyone to see.

  37. richard caldwell says:

    Ok, I agree with most mindsets in the comments section, except for, what? We can’t handle someone having a different political view from ours? So what if he is radical? We have all kinds right here in the church. Let him paint. If people aren’t liking what he paints, they won’t buy. I bet he might be upset with how I view things politically. I don’t care. I bet he doesn’t either and why should he. Political discussion should be accompanied with good manners and the understanding that the next guy isn’t seeing things your way.

  38. It sounds like you think that a blog post like this arguing against McNaughton somehow implies that he can’t have that view or that people who don’t share that view can’t handle it. But in truth, it’s the opposite; acknowledging that he has every right to that view, and that in expressing it he might perhaps persuade more people of his perspective (especially because he tries to get traction out of Mormon teachings and tries to equate the Restored Gospel with the extreme political provocations of his pictures), focused counter-argument is the only legitimate response. That is what this blog post is — a counter-argument to the poison that he sells.

  39. Mark B. says:

    I don’t think he painted Al Gore fat enough. But maybe he assumed that Al would lose some weight on his new concentration camp diet.

    They weren’t treated as a disease, but Japanese immigrants on the west coast (and their U.S. citizen children) were assumed to be disloyal and were rounded up and put in concentration camps in 1942. And the Supreme Court, that last bulwark against tyranny, upheld the action as a proper exercise of the war powers in Korematsu v. U.S. So, given the right circumstances, it could happen here.

  40. Last Lemming says:

    Where’s Hillary? Where’s Jane Fonda? Where’s Joe Biden? I guess they don’t even make it to the island.

    (Heck, where’s Bob Bennett?)

  41. Justifications for the way the Edmonds-Tucker Act was enforced included depictions of Mormons as reprobate and diseased.

  42. He couldn’t paint EVERYONE he has deemed part of the disease of Liberalism. He says on his website that he took representatives of different fields. So I guess the Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi horror fest he’s conjured up count for the politician aspect of the disease.

  43. Totally agree with Casey about the painting itself: “I just can’t get worked up over Jonny McNo right now. That’s a clown painting, bro.”

    The essay that goes along with the painting is a little more seriously unsettling though. Couldn’t be a more textbook example of eliminationist rhetoric.

  44. There are many liberals who should feel really sad they didn’t make the cut. Bernie Sanders–come on the guy is an actual socialist! Gavin Newsom? Occupy Wall Street and Code Pink? Think of all the blood, sweat, and tears they have put into the liberal cause, only to get bumped in favor of the likes of Anthony Weiner, who is not very notable except for tweeting photos of his junk. Hard day for all those not included.

  45. PUBLIUS:

    (1) You’re going to have to do a lot better than an obscure piece on Daily Kos that generated almost no positive feedback (as measured by comments and “Recommends” by the community, relative to what popular pieces get on that site). You are aware that anybody can register a free account on Daily Kos and then start posting posts, right? So you have to look at the reception of the piece to see if it really represents an accepted view. You’ll also notice that there are lengthy rebuttals posted in the comments–more evidence that even the notoriously rabid Daily Kos community was not very supportive of the rhetoric being used in that post (ex: “The person who left the “liberalism is a disease” comment obviously badly misrepresented liberals, but, in my view at least, this diary seems to be doing the same thing to conservatives (full disclosure: I’m a moderate, so I’m sympathetic to, and critical of, both sides). For one thing, it paints conservatives with a broad brush when there are actually various kinds and degrees of conservatism. In addition to neo-conservatism, there is paleo-conservatism, traditionalist conservatism and even a new movement called crunchy conservatism (conservatism with a focus on simple and eco-friendly living, which has been embraced by some traditionalists), as well as conservatism with a more libertarian bent. It is unfortunate that they all get lumped together…”

    (2) You won’t find any fans of Richard Dawkins at BCC. Precisely because of that kind of rhetoric that he uses.

  46. “Fight a war against terrorism without identifying who the enemy is because of political correctness and then allow illegal aliens to cross the border by the millions.”

    Who declared war on terror? Wasn’t that the Bush/Cheney collective?

    “McNaughton Fine Art”


  47. GSBartholomew says:

    Disgusting, incendiary, embarrasing!

  48. Fun Joseph Smith quote: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.”

  49. MDearest says:

    These comments restore any hope for humanity the McN may have inadvertently destroyed.

  50. To follow up on Cynthia’s comment (2:47 pm), the Wikipedia entry she linked provides the following definition of “eliminationism”:

    Eliminationism is the belief that one’s political opponents are “a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation”.

    This cites to Goldhagen’s 1996 book on Germans’ complicity in the atrocities against the Jews in WWII (Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust) and to his more recent 2009 book studying Genocide more broadly in the 20th Century, Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity:

    In his 2009 book Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity, Goldhagen argues that eliminationism is the root cause of every mass murder perpetrated in the 20th and 21st centuries, including:
    War rape in Darfur (2003–2010)
    Suicide attacks by Islamic terrorists
    Rwandan Genocide (1994)
    Ethnic cleansing and genocide during the Yugoslav Wars (1991–1995)
    Cambodian Genocide (1975–1979)
    Operation Condor in Latin America (1973-1985)
    Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945)
    Death marches from the Auschwitz concentration camp (1944–1945)
    British concentration camps for the Mau Mau following their uprising in Kenya (1952–1960), and during the Boer Wars (1880–1881, 1899–1902)

    So, thanks, Cynthia, for providing numerous examples as requested in the original post by virtue of your link to this list.

  51. By the way, we can look as far back as the 1500s for examples of this. Phillip II of Spain used the disease metaphor in justifying his fanatical crackdown on Protestants in the Netherlands. Thousands at a time were put to the stake or otherwise killed by the work of the Inquisition in routing out Protestants (who by virtue of their different faith were also viewed by the Spanish crown and his governors as political opponents).

  52. Capozaino says:

    Paul of 2:59pm: It’s not the war on terror that he objects to, per se. Rather, war on terror is no good if you can’t identify who the enemy is because of political correctness and then prevent illegal aliens from crossing the border by the millions. War on terror is just fine if you’re fighting people with brown skin and then keeping them out of our fine Christian nation.

  53. robrunning (11:46am), so true. This picture seems to imply that the Oklahoma City tornado was sent by God as a punishment or consequence for “Liberalism.”

  54. Kevin Barney says:

    Reminds me a bit of the Japanese characterizing the Chinese as the “Sick Men of Asia.” Here’s a scene from the classic Bruce Lee movie “Fists of Fury” in which the Japanese school brings a banner with those words to the Chinese school and tries to goad them into a fight. (Spoiler: The Bruce Lee character will later go to the Japanese school alone and literally make them eat their words.)

  55. oudenos says:

    john f. I appreciate your seriousness, but I can only respond with silliness. To wit:

    An Ode to McNaughton as Bad as his Art

    You can’t come dance at my Party
    Unless you bring a McNaughty
    Don’t even think about getting down
    If you voted in that man ’cause he’s brown!

    Like that symbol? With your mouse go roll over it
    Constitution? Black man took a stroll over it
    Each symbol so damn didactic
    You can buy them all ’cause he takes plastic

    His next work of art? It’s apocalyptic
    Mormon chapel altar piece, it’s a tryptich
    Obama on the left and Skousen on the right
    Tea Party Jesus in the middle with skin so white!

    Put a McNaughty on your mantel and feel the Spirit
    You’ll learn the government is bad and you should fear it
    You don’t like his art? Yo, that’s a fib, girl
    Unless…you’re a Commie-Social-Femi Liberall!?!?

  56. Mark B. says:

    I know this is a threadjack, but Goldhagen is an idiot to include the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in that list. Of course, in my opinion, there are a lot more reasons to conclude that Goldhagen is an idiot, but if he’s going to add Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the list, he’d better subtract from death toll in those two cities all the lives, both Japanese and American, that were saved by the atomic bombs.

    Maybe we can send him and McNaughton off to a desert island together.

  57. These aren’t “examples of totalitarian regimes or other despotic powers,” but I think they are apropos:

    “The Mormon disease is a desperate one, and the rope and shot gun is the only cure. … The time has come when every man should declare how he stands on the Mormon question. If he wants an office, let him define his position thoroughly. No half-way cowards need apply. Nobody but out-spoken, true-blue anti-Mormons will hold an office in Apache Co. …”

    Attributed to Apache Chief (St Johns, AZ), quoted in “Opposition to the Saints in Arizona,” The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 46 (no 29, 1884 Jul 21 Mon): 457 (456-458).

    “Utah is rich enough to pay for all the costly and expensive surgery of taking out this dripping cancer of Mormonism.”

    T. De Witt Talmage, sermon preached in the Tabernacle, Brooklyn, 1880 Sep 26, as reproduced in William Jarman, USA: Uncle Sam’s Abscess, or Hell Upon Earth for U.S. Uncle Sam (Exeter: H Leduc, 1884), 171.

    “You, as a good American, should watch narrowly the Mormon Church. It is a national cancer, and if you would have the nation live you must set about its cure. …”

    Alfred Henry Lewis, “The Viper’s Trail of Gold,” The Cosmopolitan 50 (no 6, 1911 May): 832 (823-833).

  58. Perfect, Edje. Thank you for providing those sources.

    Mark B., I agree that Hiroshima and Nagasaki don’t belong on that list. I had to do a double take when I saw that. And believe me, his Hitler’s Willing Executioners book is not without controversy.

  59. Lisa O. says:

    I vote “clown painting.” BCC is giving it way more substance that it deserves. True liberalism (small “l”) lets everyone express their views – even the embarrassingly crazy uncles. Cooler heads choose to reject or accept them.

    From where I sit, his point of view is pretty universally rejected in any sort of literal interpretation. In fact, I’d say most conservatives just blow off this sort of thing as embarrassing hyperbole.

    Yup. Clown Painting.

  60. jsfueston says:

    The way he expresses his ideas are childish and inflammatory. But lets not forget: he’s a lousy painter. I’ve seen better art in Las Vegas hotel rooms.

  61. Fun to see all the liberals on this site get their panties in a wad.

  62. McNaughton makes enough $$ from his terrible paintings to pay rent on a prime commercial space in the University Mall in Provo.

  63. Peter LLC says:

    While not despotic or totalitarian, the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party opposes immigration for several reasons, one of them being that foreigners spread disease(!). When it was revealed earlier this week that this talking point remains in the officials’ party handbook, the chair unapologetically responded that his party is just “relentlessly highlighting truth and reality.”

    Far from a fringe group, this is the third largest party in parliament with 19% of the seats and ruled from 2000–2005 as part of the coalition government.

    I’m sure Americans could hardly care less what goes on elsewhere, so it’s all well and good to pooh-pooh liberals for “getting their panties in a wad” and dismiss Jon McN. as a clown. But these ideas unfortunately still have currency among (potential) policymakers of advanced democracies in the 21st century, and the consequences can be real and regrettable.

    John is right to urge “people who do not share McNaughton’s views [to] argue against them forcefully.”

  64. Brent C says:

    His “Obamanation” is featured on the website as well as in the latest exhibition at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, “Mondo Utah,” which “consists of succinct artistic statements, collections, artifacts and positions that celebrate the diversity of Utah’s cultural landscape. Cultural lore, forgotten icons and parallel art worlds . . .”

  65. I know who I am going to be for Halloween.

  66. Is this really any different from Dan Savage’s neologism for Rick Santorum’s name? Or the sorts of things you’ll find here Or most of the performance art in NYC circa 2005-6? It’s just people and politics. I don’t find any of it particularly appealing, but it’s not all that new or disturbing, either.

    Fwiw, the communists (USSR, CCP, Cambodia) were also very good at eliminationism and disease metaphors. It’s not particularly a right or left phenomena. It’s mostly an indication of relatively unsophisticated propagandists.

  67. Fwiw, the communists (USSR, CCP, Cambodia) were also very good at eliminationism and disease metaphors. It’s not particularly a right or left phenomena.

    Exactly, as the original post and several comments point out.

    Eliminationist rhetoric might satisfy the basest instincts of an ignoramus like McNaughton but for someone with even a modicum of historical insight, its inherent danger is obvious.

  68. Publius says:

    Here’s an idea that might help curb your sense of outrage: Think of McNaughton as a political cartoonist. Do political cartoonists depict persons with whom they disagree as ugly, diseased, subhuman, etc.? Yes, yes they do. Do Mormon political cartoonists refrain from depicting their fellow Mormons thusly? Not if Pat Bagley is still a Mormon, they don’t.

  69. Publius,
    I’m willing to see McNaughton as political cartoonist, but the question is does he self see himself as such?

  70. Peter LLC says:

    “Do political cartoonists depict persons with whom they disagree as ugly, diseased, subhuman, etc.?”

    Please. Jon McN. paints “realistically.” No exaggerated noses here–just poorly executed ones.

  71. Mark Brown says:

    Holy cow I cannot believe people are really making these kind of arguments, but I guess it’s about what you would expect from people who cannot figure out the difference between The Restoration and the RNC.

    When your stake president has McNaughton art on his walls, and when you can buy framed Pat Bagley cartoons for $125.00 at Deseret Book, then your argument might hold water.

    The kind of brain-dead, reactionary conservatism on display in these comments is a problem in the church, believe it or not. Yes, brain-dead reactionary responses come from the Left as well, but take a wild guess and try to figure out which one is a bigger problem in the church, Left or Right?

  72. Left Field says:

    Why is Thomas S. Monson in the painting? And why is he labelled “Jon Stewart”?

  73. Was McNaughton involved in the joke about how Satan in the History Channel series looks a lot like President Obama? Seems to me McNaughton is using more deep symbolism by not including Obama by name but making Satan look a lot like the History Channel version.

  74. Publius, you’re right that from an aesthetic/artistic perspective, this picture is virtually indistinguishable from a Mad Magazine cartoon. But this post is about what is depicted and McNaughton’s essay describing his ideas about the picture and about politics in general.

  75. Dave K. says:

    Big mistake including Colbert in the picture. A cornerstone of his schtick is egomania. He has to comment on anything about him. Add in the fact that Colbert has previously lampooned McNaughton (–nation-under-socialism–artwork) and it’s 100% guaranteed Colbert will do some segment about this. Heck, he probably already bough a copy of the painting.

  76. Dave K. says:

    Hey, can someone with better knowledge of NY geography tell me where this island is? At first I thought maybe Brooklyn, but there are way too few beards in the picture. Manhattan? No, Al Gore has a soda larger than a thimble. So all I’ve got left are Liberty Island (Statue of Liberty), Ellis Island, and Rikers. Any of those makes sense, I guess, but …. oh wait, it’s Jersey. Obviously Jersey. How could anyone miss that?

  77. Dave, surely nothing aside from the eradication of liberals would make McNaughton happier. If Colbert makes fun of this, then he gets further street cred among his audience as a persecuted white man for his sincere conservative beliefs, a further sign the country is in deterioration because a guy like him can’t express a sentiment such as the elimination of all liberals without getting criticized by said liberals about it.

  78. I see a sign to the effect of no fast food but it looks like McNaughton actually forgot his own bug-bear of halogen lights. I would have expected to see a sign forbidding old fashioned, inefficient lightbulbs, which served as a rallying cry for true Americans like McNaughton a few years back.

  79. Publius you’re a dolt and a disingenuous troll. Caricatures in political cartoons—even very mean ones—are not remotely the same as openly advocating, with utter professed seriousness and self-importance, the removal of people from the body politic while explicitly depicting them as a disease on said body.

  80. Brad, that was not called for.

  81. Steve, just think of my comment as the blogging equivalent of a political cartoon.

  82. Maybe they are supposed to be on Rat Island:,_New_York

    I’m not aware of any wind turbines in the vicinity, however.

  83. Left Field says:

    The island has to be Pier C Park in Hoboken.

  84. “A loathsome ulcer on the body politic” that should be cut out by Congress. — Stephen A. Douglas, speaking of … yes, the Mormons.

  85. I thought for a second there that David Letterman was flipping the bird.

  86. Central Standard says:

    Abolitionists were liberal so the anti-slavery movement was a total failure and something that Bro M could not support.

  87. MarkinPNW says:

    In regard to the comments by Mark B. and John F.; In August of 1945 my father, a Navy Pilot, was on orders to Alaska to participate in the final invasion of Japan when the war ended. I used to have the opinion as these two, and specifically that the bomb saved my father. Well, further study, research and prayer has led me to a different conclusion. First, most military leaders who were not directly involved in the decision were mostly opposed to its use, and thought that it was unnecessary, wrong, or grossly immoral.


    And finally, from the October 1946 Conference by the First Counselor of the First Presidency, J Rueben Clark we have the following statement:

    ” Then as the crowning savagery of the war, we Americans wiped out hundreds of thousands of civilian population with the atom bomb in Japan, few if any of the ordinary civilians being any more responsible for the war than were we, and perhaps most of them no more aiding Japan in the war than we were aiding America. Military men are now saying that the atom bomb was a mistake. It was more than that: it was a world tragedy. Thus we have lost all that we gained during the years from Grotius (1625) to 1912. And the worst of this atomic bomb tragedy is not that not only did the people of the United States not rise up in protest against this savagery, not only did it not shock us to read of this wholesale destruction of men, women, and children, and cripples, but that it actually drew from the nation at large a general approval of this fiendish butchery….
    Thus we in America are now deliberately searching out and developing the most savage, murderous means of exterminating peoples that Satan can plant in our minds. We do it not only shamelessly, but with a boast. God will not forgive us for this.”

    My own study, prayer, and pondering has convinced me that this is one time that a prophet, seer, and revelator was actually speaking the word of the Lord, by the Holy Ghost, as in 2 Nephi 28:31, and in this case, Goldhagen has got it exactly right.

  88. That’s a powerful quote by J. Reuben Clark, Jr.. Thanks.

  89. it's a series of tubes says:

    MarkinPNW, thanks for the quote and link. One clarification that I think is worth noting – the last three sentences quoted are JRC commenting on reports of US research in biological and chemical weapons.

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