PEEK

More Clarity About Abuse, Intermarriage, Child Breeders, and the Fundamentalist Church of Later Day Saints

Getting past the titillation of government raids.
So far, the wall-to-wall news coverage of the state of Texas's raid on the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints compound in Eldorado, TX has been focused on just a couple of narratives. The first, of course, is the state's dogged and thorough -- and long overdue -- attempt to prove that the church's young women have been systemically sexually abused by the men of the group; and that this abuse is not just rare, but rather an inherent and accepted feature of the group's social order.

The other is the cultural curiosity of the sect's women in general. We see them, looking like they just walked out of the 1890s in their bizarre high hairdos, pastel prairie dresses, and sturdy shoes, and wonder how such a group of fossils (let alone tens of thousands of them) could still exist in modern America. It makes for great TV; but I often look at these women (most of whom have never watched TV in their lives), and feel like they're lambs being dragged out in front of media wolves they've never learned to recognize or fear. In a world when all of us seem to be in permanent rehearsal for our own 15 minutes of fame, these women are so unprepared for all this that they're downright fascinating.

These are the two current storylines the media is focused on -- at least, so far. In time, though, if the reporters and investigators stick around, they might find other things to talk about. A careful reading of Daphne Bramham's excellent The Secret Lives of Saints reveals that there are plenty of other questions we should be asking about the FLDS -- and months worth of stories we're not hearing about right now, but which need to be discussed and generally understood if the country is going to deal with the group appropriately and effectively.

Sara Robinson blogs at Orcinus.
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