Readers’ Forum: 9/24/19

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Christopher Columbus

In response to the article published by Professor Roni Jo Draper, which is a response to Clark Hinckley’s article in LDS living, I want to disagree and say that celebrating the day of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America is not part of white supremacist ideology.
Columbus’ coming to America connected the world together and does not mean his legacy is all about evil principles.

Professor Draper suggests that in Hinckley’s article, his claim of Christopher Columbus being prophesied of in the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 13:12 is wrong. She then follows with, “(To) indigenous peoples of the Americas, there are many ‘Great Waters’” that could be referenced such as the Pacific Ocean, and if we assume the individual cited is from Europe it “represents biases that assume the supremacy of white people.”

See 1 Nephi 13:4-5. The formation of Christian churches took place in European regions such as Rome and Greece after the first coming of Christ and led into the great apostasy. Verse four speaks of the “Gentiles” as those forming churches. Later these Gentiles are in verse 10.

Logic would suggest the same “Gentiles” referenced in verses 4-5 are those in subsequent verses. This indicates the man prophesied of was likely European and possibly Columbus. There is more context in verse 15 as well: “And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles … and I beheld that they were white.”

The individual prophesied of in the Book of Mormon was likely European and probably
Christopher Columbus. This doesn’t excuse the atrocities which happened to Native Americans prophesied of in verse 14. However, comparing Columbus’ legacy in connecting the world with racism and taking scriptural prophesy out of context is disingenuous.
Not everything is about racism. This trend of calling everything racist is not beneficial to
political discussion here at BYU nor will it improve political discussion as a whole.

—Thomas Stevenson
Rexford, New York

Forget the Mrs. Degree

Getting married seems to be the first thing on the majority of people’s minds when they arrive at BYU. However, despite the pressure to get an Mrs. degree, college is about discovering yourself, not a significant other.

I’ve heard this advice about finding myself before marriage my whole life. My grandma lives by the motto “carpe diem,” or “seize the day.” My grandma was 18 years old when she got married. Her husband was deployed in Germany. She soon found herself living in a foreign country with a small child. Sadly, her marriage ended in divorce. Because of this experience, she’s spent my whole life telling me she wished she would have discovered herself before she decided to settle down. She always encourages me to seize my day and any opportunity that follows.

Seizing my day, while following my grandma’s advice, means I need to find myself. Finding myself does not mean I have my whole life figured out. Rather, it means I need to develop as an individual — separate from another person. I’m not saying don’t go on dates or develop relationships. In fact, dating teaches you about yourself. Marrying at a young age isn’t inherently wrong, but before you marry, you should discover what makes you you. Learn to embrace yourself.

Discover your passions and what makes you unique. Take that study abroad trip to Europe, weekend getaway with friends or internship for your dream job. Decide to go for it because you might learn something new about yourself along the way.

—Georgi Wilson
Dallas, Texas

Polynesian Studies

BYU offers an impressive number of languages: 62 regularly and 30 on-demand, to be
precise. Many of these languages have their own major or study track, which allows students to acquaint themselves with cultures different than their own.

Overall, BYU does a decent job of providing non-Western language courses, but the majority of language majors that are offered are Euro-centric. I appreciate that BYU does not currently offer an African studies program because to do so without expanding the language choices would conflate the vast differences found over the continent — a practice universities are prone to doing.

While BYU should expand studies of the various countries within Africa, we lack a program
that we clearly have the resources to provide: a Pacific Islands/Polynesian Studies major.
We have the ability to take Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian and Tahitian with advanced cultural courses offered in all four languages. While we need to expand course offerings in
anthropology and archaeology to accommodate this as well as include further courses on the oral literature of these cultures, this major gives BYU the chance to spotlight cultures that many Americans are ignorant of outside of the Disney movie Moana.

After studying Classical languages for over ten years now, I decided to study Samoan for a
variety of reasons. If my limited experience has taught me anything, it is that the Western
civilization, specifically America, imposed much on Pacific Island cultures. Perhaps BYU
should step back and join the very few universities that study these cultures for their
beautiful, complex, unique and seldom recognized contributions to our universal experience.

—Hanna Seariac
Boston, Massachusetts

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