Monday, November 10, 2008

Amish Country

I met someone new at work today, and we started talking about a trip that she had just returned from to Amish country in PA. I got retardedly excited about this topic, because I grew up in that area. So when I get to the Big City and the City-folk want to discuss things like this, I'm all LET'S TALK ABOUT RUMSPRINGA AND FASNACHTS.

Man, the Amish piss me off. I know, it's not nice to say. But I can't help myself. They make me really angry. And it's not because they're Christians and I'm a godless heathen. It's because they are a FUCKING BRAINWASHED CULT and yet, they are revered for it.

The Amish live in isolated communities (no shit). They rear their children with little to no exposure to the English world. They stop educating their kids at an eighth grade level (and prior to that, the quality of education that they give is questionable). And then, at fucking 16 years old, they give their kids a couple of years to go crazy and experience the English world (Rumspringa). Eventually, the kids have to decide whether they want the English life or the Amish life.

Okay, so let's think of another scenario for a second. Imagine that for your whole life, you were only allowed to eat wheat bread. Your parents tell you that eating anything other than wheat bread is bad for you, will fill you with cholesterol, and kill you.. Your teachers say the same thing. They point to non-wheat-breaders and tell you how sick they are and how they are going to die. Suddenly, at 16, your parents say that you can try bacon. You try it. It tastes good, and you sort of like it, but you're uncomfortable. Isn't wheat bread the only thing that is good to eat? Won't eating bacon kill me? Then, to top it off, your family makes you choose: wheat bread or bacon? If you want to keep eating bacon, you can't have your old life. You have to leave your family and go out into the world. If you pick wheat bread, you can go back home. So: health, home, and wheat bread; or sickness, strangeness, and bacon?

It doesn't seem like much of a choice. That's what the Amish kids basically get. They aren't educated outside of their community, so when they have to choose what life they want, they almost always pick Amish.

Furthermore, some kids do pick the English life. But guess what happens to them? They have to go out into the world WITH AN EIGHTH GRADE EDUCATION. You can imagine how successful they will be.

So I don't really have much respect for the Amish, because they brainwash their children and deny them a lot of opportunities. Also, they have a lot of genetic problems from inbreeding (bilirubin problems in particular), and that's not cool either. Oh, and did I mention how they treat their women? LIKE SHIT. Amish women can't do shit except cook and clean and squeeze out more Amish babies. Because they have vaginas. Oh, and because some bitch named Eve gave some dude named Adam an apple. So, you know, if you have a vagina you should really just stay in the kitchen and cover up, for god's sake.

But what kills me is that for some reason, people fucking WORSHIP the Amish. They take special trips to Amish country. They go crazy over photographing buggies and hitching posts. They buy books that paint the Amish as a noble and admirable people. They lose their fucking minds over quilts. Enough with the fucking quilts. Boyfriend's mother makes quilts and you don't see a bunch of people acting like jackasses to get one.

I'm not saying that the Amish aren't nice or whatever. The Amish people that I've met are so damn sweet they'll make your teeth rot and fall out. But I don't think any group of people that purposefully denies its children educational opportunities or keeps its women so subservient deserves that sort of hero-worship.
I realize, of course, that the elder Amish are themselves lacking in educational opportunities, and don't know any better themselves. But it's still not okay that they shame and guilt their kids into following their religion. Or that they keep their kids stupid so that they don't know any better. Or deprives their women of choices and careers (A documentary on the Amish called Devil's Playground profiles a 42 year old woman who uses anorexia as her only means of birth control; she didn't want more than eight kids). For crying out loud, they don't even want their people to get treatment for mental disorders.

That's just how I see the Amish. They aren't monsters or anything, but they aren't much more than a group of people whose religion keeps them ignorant. So I don't get the reverence.

But, to be fair, I do enjoy Fasnachts, so I guess I have the Amish to thank for that.


White Trash Academic said...

I have a friend who grew up in Ohio in Amish country and he HATES them. If you mention the Amish, he is likely to go on a 20 min. tirade about how they like to play the isolationist game until it comes to things like using our roads and not paying taxes. Apparently, the relationship between the locals and Amish is more contentious where he grew up then places in PA.

Phoebe Caulfield said...

Ha! Funny. I recall similar grievances from a college roommate who grew up even closer to the PA Amish than I. The locals are rarely happy with the Amish, is my understanding.

jeremy said...

A good friend turned me onto your blog. You rock! Thanks for representin'.

Phoebe Caulfield said...

Thanks Jeremy!

Anonymous said...

I like the Amish, and I grew up around them.

Phoebe Caulfield said...

Thank you for your insight, anonymous.

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