[BearwWthoutBorders] Zane Grey, Mormons, and Wobblies (a popular writer's hateful stuff)

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at hunterbear.org
Wed May 16 13:09:30 EDT 2012

This is an excerpt from a much longer website post of ours:

One of the most venomous Western writers was Zane Grey ["no relation" as a
prominent Mississippi journalist named Salter always indicates when
discussing me].  Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1872 and, in due
course, settled in North Central Arizona, under the Tonto Rim.  He lived in
that general region for a very long time [before returning to the East and
dying there in 1939] and wrote a myriad of Western novels -- some dimensions
of which reflect capable observation of the cattle culture and the rough

But, a puritan in the most narrow and rigid sense, he was venomously
anti-Mormon and anti-Industrial Workers of the World -- all of these fine
folks frequently found in the region where he pitched his tents. [It's also
much around the area where I grew up.]  In RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE,
written many years after the LDS church had formally abandoned polygamy, and
first published in 1912, Grey provides the full package of anti-Mormon
bigotry undergirded and pervaded by massive and sensational falsehoods:
e.g., "closed towns," "captive women," Mormon "enforcers."  If this was
puzzling to the local "Gentiles" [non-Mormons] who failed completely to
recognize their pleasant and hospitable Mormon neighbors in these lurid
accounts, it played well -- as the poison still sometimes does -- in the
East and West coast bastions of Liberal America.

Zane Grey's viciously [and I don't use the word lightly], best known
anti-IWW novel, THE DESERT OF WHEAT, written and published [1919] during the
worst of the Red Scare, depicts the Wobblies as torch-carrying,
field-burning saboteurs.  Since some members of my mother's family were
involved in large wheat acreages and flour mills in Kansas and Oklahoma, I
was interested [but not surprised] in their comments after I read this tract
when a very young man.  None of my kin on that side of the family had the
slightest awareness of IWW "sabotage" -- and some of the old-timers, indeed,
had been Populists and Debs Socialists, while a well known close cousin of
Mother's, Chris Hoffman, who was known as the "millionaire Socialist of
Kansas," had dropped dead of a heart attack while addressing an IWW rally in
Kansas City.  Even the old Republican relatives in Kansas remembered the
Wobbly harvest hands as good, dependable workers -- a sentiment shared by
other kin in North Dakota.  In his classic and highly detailed A HISTORY OF
Hopkins Press, 1939] -- a good copy of which I have right here -- Professor
Eldridge Foster Dowell can find nothing in IWW practice involving
destructive sabotage and he states categorically on pages 34-35 that "The
three great Federal trials of the I.W.W. and the state criminal syndicalism
trials yield, in the writer's opinion, no reliable evidence of the
commission of sabotage by the I.W.W. . . ."

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk 
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´ 
and Ohkwari' 
Member, National Writers Union AFL-CIO
(much social justice material)

I have always lived and worked in Borderlands.

See the Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child [My Father]:
(expanded May 2012)

For the new, just out (11/2011) and expanded/updated
edition of my "Organizer's Book," JACKSON MISSISSIPPI -- 
with a new and substantial Introduction by me.  We are close upon
the 50th anniversary of the massive Jackson Movement of1962-63:

Personal Background Narrative (with many links):

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