Greg Wilcox’s article on the George Wythe University and Casey Anderson’s campaign for the U.S. Congress in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District (Five Spot, Sept. 10, City Weekly) is one of the laziest and worst pieces of journalism I’ve ever encountered in City Weekly’s pages.
My curiosity was piqued because I’d never heard of Wythe University. In this Google Age, it took me all of a minute or two to pull up the relevant information in Wikipedia. For those who are or were unfamiliar with Wythe, he was a legal scholar, credited with mentoring Thomas Jefferson. Although a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Wythe left that august body early and did not sign the final version of the Constitution.
I discovered that the Cedar City institution bearing his name was “a private, unaccredited, liberal arts university” founded by a certain Oliver DeMille. Wiki identified DeMille’s motivation as being “his own desire for this kind of education after reading the account of Jefferson’s tutelage under Wythe in W. Cleon Skousen’s book, The Making of America, and DeMille’s subsequent relationship with Skousen as his own mentor.”
What’s the matter, Wilcox? Were you unwilling to mention Skousen’s name? Shoot, Glenn Beck isn’t, but then as soon as Beck’s name surfaces, those of us with more rounded world views immediately recognize him as one of Keith Olbermann’s regular finalists in his “Worst Person in the World” nominations on MSNBC.
For readers who can stomach Beck’s right-wing lunacies and his relationship with Skousen, I recommend a recent Salon article on the two; Beck wrote the foreward to the new edition to The Five Thousand Year Leap, Skousen’s presumed “answer” to the Durants, with the title apparently referencing the 50 centuries that have passed since Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden.
Longtime citizens of Salt Lake City also remember Skousen as the chief of police here in Salt Lake who was summarily fired by then-Mayor J. Bracken Lee because he was too out-there even for the tax-protesting and conservative former Utah governor.
Skousen then migrated to Brigham Young University and Happy Valley, ending his days teaching religion and publishing anti- Communist manifestos decrying fluoridation and hollering that the end was nigh.
I recall a story about him following the 1999 tornado here where he approached LDS Church leadership and insisted that horror was “God’s punishment” to Salt Lake City since it had targeted the “gay neighborhood,” presumably Marmalade Hill. On that one, I would’ve given a full month’s wages to hear the late Larry H. Miller’s reaction to that claim, since the maelstrom seriously damaged Miller’s Delta Center.
Anderson’s campaign for Congress is a joke, but not nearly as absurd as Wilcox’s attempt to afford it some legitimacy.
Editor’s note: The Five Spot is a 400-word Q&A column that gives one person (in this instance, Casey Anderson) the opportunity to answer a few topical questions. Given its size and scope, the Five Spot can hardly be thought of as an investigative news feature. That a short Q&A spurred you to action, causing you to click your mouse on a few Wikipedia articles, would suggest it served its purpose. And as for City Weekly including the views of third-party candidates in our pages, Google “marketplace of ideas.”