“Don’t Bunch”: FLDS and Intentional Communities
First, the good news of the day: The Supreme Court of Texas has ordered that the FLDS children be returned to their parents. Thanks again to the tireless efforts of The Common Room’s “Headmistress” for such thorough coverage and commentary.
But this comes amidst a tidal wave of bad news for Anglo-American civilization in the Year of Our Lord 2008. In addition to the kidnapping of 464 children by the Texas CPS, we learned that Great Britain is creating animal-human hybrids for research, Catholic agencies in England are being forced to end adoption services (as happened in Massachusetts in 2006), a California appelate court has banned homeschooling, the California Supreme Court has invented a constitutional right to same-sex “marriage”, and today we have news that New York will be recognizing same-sex “marriages” as well. The euthanasia movement continues to pick up steam, the popular media continues to degenerate into a hideous facsimile of Hell itself, visible manifestations of Christian belief have all but disappeared from our public places, the homosexualist agenda seems to be victorious everywhere, the old traditional songs at West Point Academy are going “gender neutral”, and for the first time since Ronald Reagan we do not have a viable presidential candidate who even pretends to be a social conservative. According to commenter and fellow Californian Mark Butterworth at What’s Wrong With the World:
“People, America is over. Buy guns. Practice shooting. Think about moving and starting businesses in remote places with like minded folks. Turn your ploughshares into swords. If you want to be free again, that is … There’s no fixing this country within its present structure.”
I’m inclined to agree, though I hope he is wrong.
But if there is anything to be learned from the FLDS debacle it is that certain kinds of counter-cultural communities – “intentional communities”, as they are often called – will not be tolerated by our new masters.
Dr. Thomas Fleming, a Catholic, surmises that the underlying hostility of the state towards the FLDS was the latter’s commitment to marriage. The teen pregnancy rate on the YFZ Ranch was no higher than an average American neighborhood: the main difference seems to be that pregnant FLDS teens were married, or at least believed themselves to be, and were committed to remaining married. I don’t believe for a minute that Texas CPS was morally outraged at polygamy or teenagers having sex. Polygamy, once correctly understood as morally licentious, is now seen by most as uber-traditional and repressive. That is how far we have fallen. No one who is saturated in the culture of American television sit-coms and popular entertainment – and that means just about everyone these days – is going to be prudish about something as old-fashioned as polygamy. No one who scarcely blinks at Bratz dolls or celebrity fundraising concerts is going to be particularly worried about teenage girls having sex.
I think Dr. Fleming is on to something, but he misses the mark slightly. It is true that the new regime is permeated with feminism, and it is also true that feminism is traditionally hostile to marriage, but today’s feminism has reconciled itself to marriage because modern marriage puts few restraints on the power of female sexuality. So it isn’t a commitment to marriage, necessarily, that upsets the feminist men and women who dominate the culture of Child Protective Services and, indeed, all government services at every level. What upsets them is anything that restrains, restricts, controls, inhibits, represses, or coerces the world’s most powerful social force:female sexuality. That is what lies behind their militant advocacy of divorce, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality – and their opposition to anything that stands in the way. Feminist men have long acquiesced to this arrangement because the liberation of female sexuality confers on them certain … benefits … which they very much enjoy.
That’s why the state of Texas does not remove children from highly promiscuous teenage mothers who are, after all, only exercising their sexual freedom. In stark contrast, the FLDS teenage mothers have sacrificed their sexual freedom for the vocation of motherhood and domesticity, which is the worst of all possible fates in the eyes of feminist women like Judge Barbara Walther, who saw nothing wrong with forcibly removing infants from breastfeeding mothers because, as she put it, “every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave.” The problem is not that teenage girls were having sex on the FLDS compound, but that these particular teenage girls were not given the option of leveraging their sexuality in the larger marketplace.
Back to the topic at hand. If we are to learn anything from the great “El Dorado Roundup” of 2008, it is that traditional, socially conservative communities which are thought to inhibit female sexuality will always be under the microscope and suspected of “abuse”. Individual families scattered about are not a threat because they can’t effectively isolate their children from mainstream cultural influences. They become a threat only when they form communities which are successful at keeping the influence of the world at arm’s length. This must not be tolerated.
There is something of an evangelistic, missionary spirit to modern ideologies, particularly feminism: their adherents must proselytize, and they are deeply offended when anyone is deprived of their liberating message. They feel compelled to bring this gospel of liberation to all children – to your children – because they fervently believe that “choice” is the essence of freedom and personhood, especially the choice of losing one’s innocence, and that having choices is the only thing that makes people fully human, and that the natural family is all about limiting the choices (and the humanity) of children. To such people there is truly nothing more scandalous, or more intolerable, than the presence of a person who has not freely and consciously chosen his own circumstances and is nevertheless happy.
Paradoxically, then, the regime of choice and sexual liberation will not look favorably upon the choices of traditional Christian communities. Such communities will be deemed abusive by definition. A few like-minded families might live together in close proximity without raising many eyebrows, but that is because they still breathe the same toxic air as everyone else; it is insularity that threatens and offends.
Therefore let Waco, Ruby Ridge, and El Dorado serve as warnings to Catholics who dream of rebuilding Christendom somewhere out on the prairie. Lydia McGrew summarizes the unmistakable message:
“It’s like they say about avoiding being a victim of a terrorist’s bomb: Don’t bunch.
These people bunched. They looked odd. They did odd things. (And polygamy is wrong, I want to add unequivocally.) They did them all in one place together. So they came to the notice of the state. And when a report, possibly a hoax, came in about a forced marriage of a teenager going on there, the entire group was torn apart and 400 children thrown to the winds.