FLDS, Texas and Double Standards

I don’t want to talk about the actions of the Texas police. I’ve made my opinion known on the various other posts elsewhere. Basically I just don’t think we have the facts one way or the other. There’s way too much uninformed speculation by all sides in the matter. And once again the media shows that they are about sensationalism and not news.

Having said that though I want to ask the question of double standards.

Consider how the media talks about two candidates seeking the Presidential nomination. Mitt Romney’s past polygamous ancestors are discussed endlessly. Barack Obama’s father, who is praised by Obama, was a polygamist as was his grandfather. None of this is discussed much at all. Almost no one talks about how weird Obama’s relatives were the way Romney’s were. (Yeah, there was a little bit of anti-Islamic vitrol by a few radical right wingers and some hints of a whispering campaign by the Clintons – but how did the media react?)

FLDS polygamists who broke off from us Mormons more than a century ago are discussed endlessly. They are often conflated with LDS. Yet African immigrants often bring polygamy with them. It’s all done in secret. It’s even described as slavery. The community is described as “very private” and “not really ready to trust us” – this by the department of Women’s Housing and Employment. And look how living conditions are described:

More typical, many immigrants said, are cramped apartments in the Bronx with many children underfoot, clashes between jealous co-wives and domestic violence. And if the household breaks up, the wives’ legal status is murky at best, with little case law to guide decisions on marital property or benefits.

Men, too, can end up in polygamous marriages reluctantly, driven by the dictates of clan and culture.

Sound familiar?

And arranged marriages? Check.

Their match, like many African marriages, had been made by their families before he left for New York.

How about underage marriage? Check.

Wed at 15 in Ivory Coast, over the telephone, to a New York City taxi driver thousands of miles away, Ms. Kante was delivered to her groom on a false passport. She said she endured his abuse for years, bore three children, turned over her paycheck from work as a health aide, and tried harder to appease him when he sent two of the children to Africa.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not justifying in the least the FLDS. Certainly not the abuse if it is as has been reported. All I’d like is a little consistency by the media. So here’s my question. Will the police be charging in to immigrant African housing the way they did the FLDS compound?

13 thoughts on “FLDS, Texas and Double Standards

  1. It is very surprising to see how closely the media identifies mainstream Mormons with FLDS. I just heard Chris Matthews on HardBall say that the events at the “Mormon” compound in Texas will hurt Mitt Romney’s chances to be VP.

    It would be nice to be able to “own” our polygamous past, as Obama has. In my opinion, it’s the only way to go. But, as your post has pointed out, we are placed in an unfair position by the media, compelling most Mormons to jump to the defense.

  2. Clark, it amazes me to this day that when I talk to somebody about the Church, in 80 percent of the cases the first thing that comes up is: “aren’t you guys polygamists?” President Hinckley did a great job on public relations, and President Monson hopefully will do even better. I really don’t see any other solution than to continue to get our message out as much as possible by each individual member talking to friends, neighbors, co-workers and through the missionaries and through Church public affairs.

    I don’t want to get into a persecution complex, but I would like to point out that as a former journalist I can tell you that there are certain things that are “fair game” in the world of journalists and certain things that are not. A bunch of weird white guys doing stuff in a compound is definitely “fair game.” The editor will tell you to investigate and go for it until the story peters out. A group of non-white immigrants or a sympathetic presidential candidate who is non-white simply is not fair game. Those issues must be treated with kid gloves lest anybody pull an “Imus” on you and accuse you of even a hint of racism.

  3. Cool Words of Wisdom box guys!

    On topic, I can’t help but think that racism is coming into play. If Africans were white and immigrated to the US, it is quite possible that their underage and polygamous marriages would get much more attention. The fact that they are black seems to accentuate any differences that exist culturally, and America’s underlying racist attitudes leads the media and law enforcement to ignore the ‘African outsiders backwards ways’ and ignore that their children and women are human also. White people are held to a different standard, a higher standard. Black members of society are not expected to do better.

    It is interesting to note too that

  4. In our PC world, whatever blacks, arabs, asians and other races do is just culture and it is okay. We only enforce cultural norms on other whites.

    I think that the FLDS are diabolically crazy and evil and I would like to see them stop it. I did some web searching on the story and find out that HBO’s Big Love series is causing non-religious whites to think about polygamy. I even saw posts from women that seemed to romanticize it.

    I am not embarassed about our LDS history on this score (no more than I would be about our Old Testament history) but it is clear to me that that we have grown beyond this and I am grateful for that.

  5. BTW, I meant to say that our unwillingness to enforce our cultural expectations on other races is an example of our racism of diminished expectations. We expect more of whites because (you know well, anyway)…..

  6. What Joseph Smith and Brigham Young hath wrought…

    I think many Americans are amazed that in this day and age a rather large community can live in such a closed and isolated way and institutionalize pedophilia.

    The Mormon Church has long since denounced the practice, but it’s clear that many are accepting of it and take the words of D&C 132 to heart. It is doctrine, after all.

  7. Just to be clear, I hope you are not suggesting that D&C 132 has anything to do with underage marriage. (Because obviously it does not)

  8. Clark, I agree with you on the comparison of Romney and Obama. For months we read worries about a presidential candidate whose great-grandparents were polygamists and whose church is considered racist by some, but those kinds of things just can’t be mentioned about Obama. I first heard about the Rev. Wright last summer, yet it wasn’t until very recently that any standard newspaper would touch that issue. Few people are aware yet how communist Obama’s background is, and the New York Times and CNN sure aren’t going to tell them.

    The migration-slavery thing, though, gets a fair bit of attention in the Washington Post. The D.C. area has a particular concentration of the upscale immigrants who are capable of this abuse.

  9. The condition and practice of polygamy correlates strongly to underage marriage, sexual exploitation, pedophilia, and other socially (and morally) repugnant outcomes.

    Not including Joseph Smith’s own well-documented marriages to under age women as indicative of this correlation would be turning a blind eye, to say the least.

    And to watch in living color the natural progression of polygamy as practiced by the FLDS and not draw the connection to Joseph’s doctrine is willful ignorance.

  10. Furthermore, how anyone can read this language:

    “…if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse aanother, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
    62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified…”

    …and NOT see how it designates young women as chattel, and justifies, in its practice, child rape, is simply hiding behind their own mental-burqa.

  11. Randall that’s just ridiculous. You can claim that but it isn’t true. The fact is at the time of Joseph Smith marriage was viewed differently than today. (And yes that’s a fact – modern marriage is the result of a fairly significant rethinking near the turn of the 20th century.)

    To say that women are treated as mere chattle is ridiculous especially given that the place in the US where women were first given the vote was Utah in the 19th century. Long before the rest of the country caught up. Likewise Utah had some of the most liberal divorce laws at the time. It was very easy for women to leave their husbands or polygamy entirely if they wished to in the 19th century. (See this BCC thread for instance)

    It’s fine if you believe those things. Clearly you don’t have historical facts or reasoning for what you are saying.

    Now I suspect everyone reading this blog is glad there isn’t polygamy in our culture. But to say that Joseph Smith introduced what you claim is simply demonstrably false.

  12. I heard Joseph Smith is responsible for our current economic problems too.

    Randall, this blog is for believing members of the Church. You may want to take such comments elsewhere. Please see our comments policy.

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