To warn his audience, Elder Peterson starts out by quoting a black politician who indicates that there should be no law against interracial marriage, and even states they're prevalent in... any guesses?
That's right. Europe, a region, according to the last LDS press release supporting Prop 8, now being troubled by the anti-family effects of gay marriage (pff, as if).
After he's done with the quote he goes on:
I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the oppor[t]unity of sitting down in a cafe where white people sit. He isn't just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. From this and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that, we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that they used to say about sin, "First we pity, then endure, then embrace."Isn't it striking how the issues change, doctrine changes, but 50 years later the tools of justification remain the same? Today, gay people don't want equal rights; they want special rights, and they want to marry right along with us and for us to embrace them and their sin. By tolerance and love they mean for us to embrace sin.
You can see the modern conservative LDS reaction to people like Carol Lynn Pearson at the end there. It takes such tactics to get people to excuse away the Golden Rule, harden their hearts, and do wrong to their neighbors--family even--against their conscience. Every abrahamic faith doing harm, from the inquisitions to modern killings of gays by Islamic governments, has ironically used something like Isa 5:20 to justify their cruelty, and we see such used here to justify racial segregation and anti-miscegenation ideas.
The same old message is that you can hurt those others, and their families; it's okay, good even. God approves. Elder Petersen even goes on to say it's for the children, as they do today with gay marriage. Oppose marriage for the children cursed, literally in this case, by living under their parent's union.
Elder Petersen then talks about the Chinese and how good they are for not wanting to marry white people, unlike black people. A similar tactic is used when people argue it's okay to hurt gay and lesbian headed families because they've convinced some LDS gays to be celibate or single. Why can't you be good, like them? Like the Chinese, they obey supernatural law, and that means you should too.
In this speech we, of course, see a lot of declarations about how the supernatural works, the plan of salvation, and the use of eternity to justify injustice. God segregated the races and His law "is eternal" and He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" and He is "fair to all" and "will meet us according to what we deserve". Familiar, right? Just do what we men teach you; it's the only right way; it'll work out.
Elder Petersen quotes Joseph Smith to prove some races, like those coming from Africa, were sinners in the preexistence (we know this because we treated them as slaves) and thus our cruelty and laws of segregation are justified. God made people with certain attributes, based on the indelible quality of their spirit, and placed those spirits in certain races (or sexes), justifying our poor treatment of those who'd violate His segregation in interracial union (or not violate his segregation in same-sex unions).
The best thing about claiming and believing you have evidence from the supernatural or know what God really means has to be that you can justify about anything with magical thinking. Some people, including yours truly, can trigger that special spiritual feeling for just about anything in the freedom of their own mind. You can pose laws and use complicated worldviews that rival any book by Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. Black people can be segregated because of some great ethereal war, spirits are either boys or girls, and Xenu killed a bunch of people in a volcano making some feel depressed and others feel same-sex attraction (if you're a Scientologist :-)). Opponents who value skepticism and evidence are powerless against your authority and faith. How frustrating it must have been to be a black man in Utah back then.
Elder Petersen even goes on to say black people should be grateful and thankful. "In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life" God still lets the black man have some chance, even though they are "cursed as to the priesthood". "He will go there as a servant, but he will get a Celestial resurrection".
Similarly, gay men should feel grateful, not sad or upset with church leaders. Gays are bound by the same rules as everyone else. Black men are too and are facing the consequences for their pre-existent sins in Petersen's day, sins for which white men would be equally punished. Gay men can have a celibate life, and get their reward by marrying a girl with whom they'll have that sort of purposeful intimacy afforded by orientation, later, in heaven. Be grateful for what the leaders offers you in this life, and for what they promise in eternity. And, really, who can beat eternity? It's the infinite trump card and there's no doubt why most every faith picks it up and promotes it, and why most every skeptic of most every faiths is at a disadvantage for their epistemological restraint.
To top it off Elder Petersen uses the old "some of my best friends" tactic. He isn't hateful to black people; he feels love for them; he feels good about how he treats them and that matters (if only to him). He would even "be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it", just as you'll hear some express their generosity for letting gays even have freedom from incarceration, or capitol punishment (I last heard that one from a local LDS radio host). We should be grateful for such love, right? Elder Petersen even has a black friend, brother Hope. Just like LDS author, Orson Scott Card, who, because he works in the arts (of course...), has a lot of gay friends, friends he regards as defective and fights to keep their families from equal rights.
I'm sure, though, Elder Petersen may have had such a friend, and maybe Mr. Card does too. I'm sure some black friends back then meekly forgave such men; they, after all, had faith they and others like them deserved it. Personally I'd not choose even "to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car" with such a friend, but to each his own.
Now what is our policy in regard to intermarriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro.On the upside, magical thinking is not based in the stark facts of an outside world; only the mind needs be changed. Nevertheless, a supernatural worldview does best when it feels like an assuring, comforting, and immovable foundation, and so they are notoriously difficult to change on a scale smaller than a generation. But it doesn't have to actually be immovable. In fact, it can't be immovable or the worldview will fade away with all the thousands of other dead faiths of human history, as the LDS faith would likely have if it did not change with regards to race (or maybe even polygamy). They can change by generations and do; adherents will forgive and membership will grow.
Today, it seems the LDS church only advises against interracial marriage, here:
“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred)...”(Though, "some of those are not an absolute necessity"? If only some aren't then which ones are necessity? Is there still an "absolute necessity" to keep from marrying some races, as Petersen claims, or is it class?)
But now look at how long that change from absolutely against to advising against and granting the priesthood took on race, and then consider how quickly the LDS church is moving on same-sex marriage in comparison. Just 4 years ago they were against any legal recognition of same-sex unions. Today they are still against "marriage" but now "The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights..." That's not yet equal rights for our families, but I couldn't have imagined the LDS church of my youth ever taking such a liberal stance on gay rights and so quickly.
Still, sure, there's a good ways to go and a lot in the way. I've mixed feelings to find the same tools repeatedly used to block that path to equal rights. It's annoying that such tactics still live on to have any effectiveness in the hearts and minds of people today, but, to the credit of the LDS people, it's comforting to know such tools have eventually failed, as they should.