Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Of Masonic political correctness and hissy fits

Verily, it is written, that I am a bad Mason for having endorsed a political candidate here on The Burning Taper.

"There are even some who feel they can take public political positions as masons on candidates and issues. This is a practice that is totally anathema to true freemasonry," the Grand Pontificator and Self-Proclaimed Champion of "True" Masonry wrote in the midst of his recent hissy fit.

"Hissy fit" is what Middlesex-Fire blogger Bro. Ben Rowe, of London, England, called Bro. Theron Dunn's silly rant today about flying monkeys and Masonic anathema.

Hissy fit. I love that term. I haven't heard it since my mother used it when I was a wee lad crying over broken cookies and spilled milk. I thought it was an American colloquialism used only by southern belle mothers; I'm pleased to hear it's a phrase used in the UK, too.

Anyway, Bro. Dunn has reposted his hissy fit all over the Net, in all those seriously somber "Masonic forums" where, I suppose, it's politically incorrect to talk about politics.

It's ironic that the recent "dust up" on the Taper, as Bro. Chris Hodapp called it, over freedom of speech is regarding the mention of a candidate whose platform is about protecting and restoring American freedoms.

Masonic blogger and author Bro. Hodapp sent me the photo captioned "Let's End All the Discontent, Elect a Mason President" that you see above. It was a recurring campaign poster used by Republican presidential candidates Bro. William McKinley. Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, and Bro. William Howard Taft in 1900, 1904 and 1908. All three men were elected president.

Politics and Freemasonry have been married a long time.

Some Masonic background on the three brethren who became president:

  • William McKinley joined the Union Army as a private and rose quickly to become a major during the Civil War. At the age of 22, near the close of the war, he was impressed by the interaction he saw between Union and Confederate Freemasons. He petitioned Hiram Lodge No. 21 in Winchester, Virginia, and took the three degrees on three successive days, May 1, 2, and 3. A Confederate chaplain, J.B.T. Reed, presided in the East. McKinley later took the full degrees of the York Rite. He became an attorney, a congressman and governor of Ohio, and President of the United States. Upon his death (by assassination in 1901), his casket was accompanied by 2,000 uniformed Knights Templar. We see here that politics and Masonry go hand in hand, and that some Masons have always been more equal than others. I don't think 2,000 Masons will come out for your funeral. I know they won't for mine.

  • Theodore Roosevelt was initiated in January, passed in March, and raised by the Grand Master of New York in April of 1901. He was governor of New York. In May, he became Vice President of the United States for McKinley's second term. By September of that year, he would become President, after McKinley's assassination. Roosevelt was a hearty, active man, and often attended lodge meetings, large and small, and was always given the floor to speak and entertain his brethren. Again, politics. I mean, he was raised by the Grand Master while he was governor of New York. Bully for him!

  • William Howard Taft was a big and happy man, but terrible at being a politician, it's been said. He gave an eloquently humble speech to a joyous assembly of brethren in Massachusetts during the 1914 Feast of St. John the Evangelist while he was president. His father and older brothers were Masons. He became an entered apprentice on Feb. 18, 1909, and was "made on sight" a Master Mason in 1909 or 1910 (records indicate it was 1901, but perhaps the "09" looked like "01," or maybe it was reversed into "10." My guess would be it was in 1909, just before he became president on March 4, 1909. He served until 1913). If my speculation about him being made on sight quickly to become a Mason before his inauguration, then again, we see politics and Freemasonry having a special relationship.
I'm not being critical of these brethren, nor of the fraternity, and not even of "politics as usual." Politicians and political leaders have always been given special treatment. It is what it is.

And what it is, is this. These men didn't stop thinking politically or acting politically because they were Masons, and neither should we.

If you favor a candidate, or have an opinion on an action taken by Congress or the President or your local mayor, feel free to say so. As Bro. Hodapp pointed out, you don't have to hide your Masonic ring or Masonic belt buckle or Masonic tattoo before you talk politics with your neighbor, or with your brother. Speak up. The only taboo is talking about it during a tyled lodge meeting.

And if we run the right guy in 2012, I might even hang that "Let's Elect a Mason" poster in my window.

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  1. This has been my favorite article from W.S. to date. (I'm new to The Taper ).

    I enjoyed reading it and can certainly appreciate his perspective.

    Thanks for the Masonic history lesson, and I like the "Elect A Mason" the poster too.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I believe that if one is a bona fide "hissy" that one has the right, if not an obligation, to have a "fit", if that one sees fit to have one!


  4. Wonderful post!

    Notice carefully that the subject then takes on the role he espouses is wrong. Then further accuses you of doing exactly what he is doing in the process.

    Its almost like watching wild kingdom.

    "Here we have the hissy, native of the California flats. It is a bold and furry creature with a tendency towards throwing fits. Lets watch as he stalks his prey."

    Br. Arthur Peterson

  5. I am somewhat stunned by Br. Dunn's comments. There is absolutely nothing in the Masonic obligations, or in Anderson's Constitutions, that prohibits us from both identifying ourselves as Masons and endorsing a political candidate.

    What is prohibited, by long tradition, is the endorsing of a political candidate by the Craft itself. A given lodge or Grand Lodge must not do that.

    Thus, it is one thing to say that 'This Mason endorses that candidate,' which is permissible. It is entirely another thing to say that 'Masonry (as a fraternity, or within a given jurisdiction) endorses that candidate,' which is utterly forbidden.

  6. I don't mean to imply that it is a bad thing to be a Hissy! The world in general, and Masonry in particular, could do with a few more Hissies in my opinion. Why is it that when one criticizes the establishment one is treated like some sort of hero, a champion of progress and the underdog but when one calls for the preservation of the principles that are at the very foundation of the organization, one is labeled a "hissy"?

    Just because one can produce a "poster" from the past does not mean that the idea behind the poster is a correct one. G_d knows that just because one is a card carrying Mason does not guarantee that he will be a good President! Would anyone here vote for the Grand Master of West Virginia JUST because he is a Mason?


  7. "Would anyone here vote for the Grand Master of West Virginia JUST because he is a Mason?"

    I know I would not vote for anyone 'just because' they are anything. I would be proud to vote for an upstanding Freemason I agreed with politically, and I'll admit to preferring a Freemason over another candidate if all other things are equal. Given that, I have voted against a Mason before in a run for public office in preference to a non-Mason whom I agreed with more.

    I do think that Brother Dunn has been mis-characterized here. Perhaps he made an error in judgment, but he has NEVER threatened to talk to anyone in regards to W.S., and has never threatened to.

    It is strange that his words are deleted from this thread by the administrator (according to the blog). Any reason for this?

    Obviously W.S. has the right to support any political candidate he wants and identify himself as a Mason while doing so.


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