Custodians of their own morals
I usually disagree with Cristina Odone, but she makes a reasonable point here.
In our romantic vision, these bearded men and apron-clad women offer the possibility of etching out a distinct path, removed from the ugly materialist world of big business and commercialism. The families’ tragedies is unbearably moving, yet the way this community is dealing with a gunman killing five young schoolgirls (and then himself) is disturbing…It’s not just TV and iPods they reject: it is schooling beyond 14, the emancipation of women and scholarship that questions a single interpretation of the sacred texts…Given their uncompromising ways, the Amish live in an apartheid of their own choosing. This can be dangerous, as we have seen with Catholic paedophile priests: when community leaders become the custodians of their own morals and are not subject to scrutiny, all kinds of wrongs can take place and all manner of fundamentalist tendencies thrive.
It’s interesting to note that pretty much all the comments on this piece indignantly reject her criticism – which is unfortunate, because she’s right. Amish isolation does protect for instance domestic abuse. There was a long article about just that in Legal Affairs in January 2005. I commented on it at the time. Odone for once absolutely nails it: when community leaders become the custodians of their own morals and are not subject to scrutiny, all kinds of wrongs can take place. Indeed they can, which is why isolated patriarchal groups should not be given an automatic free pass and exemption from scrutiny. Not Jonestown, not David Koresh’s setup, and not the Amish.