[co-written with Melyngoch]The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies, and in the end, isn’t that the real truth? The answer is: No.
–“The Springfield Files“
In his forty-two years of political power, Muammar Gaddafi has usually not been shy about owning his position:
I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level. (March 2009)
And as the unrest in north Africa and the Middle East began spreading outward from Tunisia and Egypt, Gaddafi emphasized that although not an unreasonable dictator, he was nonetheless the one in charge:
I am not such a dictator that I would shut down facebook. I’ll merely imprison anyone who logs into it. (February 2011)
“I am not such a dictator,” he says, acknowledging that he is some kind of dictator — just the benevolent kind who leaves the internet on, though he’ll throw you in jail for using it.
But around the same time, with internal turmoil and international disfavor rising up around him, Gaddafi revealed the real reason he couldn’t leave office: He never had it! He’s not a dictator — he’s not even in charge!
How can I step down? What from? I have no post to step down from . . . I don’t have any position. I don’t lead Libya. Libya does not have a leader or president or king. Libya is a state of the masses. (February 2011)
Gaddafi is a chicken dictator! Of course he’s in charge, but as soon as it becomes unsavory to be in charge, he denies that he ever was in charge, while dropping bombs on his own citizens, as only a person in charge can do.
Seem at all familiar? We couldn’t help but notice how nicely this parallels a certain shift in the rhetoric of sovereignty a little closer to home.
From Brigham Young:
And then let the father be the head of the family, the master of his own household . .. and let the wives and children say amen to what he says, and be subject to his dictates. (Journal of Discourses 4.35)
When I want Sisters or the Wives of the members of the church to get up Relief Society I will summon them to my aid but until that time let them stay at home & if you see females huddling together veto the concern. (Seventies Record, 1845)
Lest you think this its just Brigham Young shooting his mouth off:
In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine 286-287)
And, much more recently:
To the man it has been given to lead. To the woman it has been given to love and bear children. (Elaine Cannon, Ensign, March 1971)
But not long after, with second wave feminism rising up both around and (gasp) within the Church, the real reason that the Church didn’t need to re-evaluate its gendered power structure was revealed: women had been equal all along!
Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in equality for both men and women? Does it? Yes. The answer has always been yes. The Church is solid and firm and steady. Eighty years ago, when it was a very unpopular view, the Church believed in equality for women. (Beverly Campbell, New Era, April 1981)
And the husband isn’t in charge. (Master of his household what huh?) But make no mistake: he’s still presiding it up, like only someone in charge can do.
The father is the head in his family . . .
. . . Remember, brethren, that in your role as leader in the family, your wife is your companion . . . [T]here is not a president or a vice president in a family. The couple works together eternally for the good of the family. They are united together in word, in deed, and in action as they lead, guide, and direct their family unit. They are on equal footing. (L. Tom Perry, Ensign, May 2004)
Despite the father’s being the head and leading, the family, much like Libya, is perfectly democratic, with nothing but unity and equal footing and the masses to govern it.
It’s not too hard to recognize the lunacy when it’s a semi-coherent megalomaniac pulling this about-face in a matter of days. When it’s the rhetorical habits of a whole institution veering off like a chicken over the course of decades, it’s apparently much easier to disguise.