Monday, April 07, 2008
YFZ Compound Raid
It's finally happened. The State of Texas has done what Arizona and Utah should've done years ago. They've listened to the cries of child abuse coming from inside the heart of the FLDS and responded.
The YFZ Ranch (Yearning for Zion) is just outside of El Dorado, TX. The land was purchased back in the 90's under the guise of being used as a hunting retreat by Warren Jeff's family. A few years ago, people started disappearing from the strip of land on the Arizona/Utah border formerly known as "Short Creek" (made up of the cities Hilldale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona). Shortly after these disappearances, a pilot noticed some development occurring on the Texas prairie. At first, a few homes were built and it was thought that they could've been hunting lodges (for their size was immense). But, soon after, a granite structure began to appear on the horizon. To those who knew anything about the FLDS, it resembled a temple and the message boards went aflutter. Warren Jeffs, the man who wrestled power in the 80s...the man who pulled every FLDS child under his jurisdiction out of school, the man who banished books, radios, television, and contact with outsiders...this man who lectured on the sanctity of a little known LDS ritual of blood atonement now had the temple in which blood atonement becomes a sacrament. Those of us who knew the FLDS knew that dark days were around the corner. But, the rest of the world kept ticking. The FYZ Ranch eventually created their own sanitation system, water treatment facilities, gardens, livestock, security towers, and power generator. The number of people leaving Short Creek increased right along with the growing population of FYZ. Families were removed in the dead of night. Wives taken from husbands and given to knew husbands on the FYZ compound. And, all the while, those of us who knew drew comparisons between David Koresh and Jeffs. It was almost as if Jeffs took a play straight out of the Branch Davidian play book. Countless times, I've looked at my husband and said, "If people keep ignoring that place, there's going to be a stand-off and you're going to lose more children than you ever did in Waco." I firmly believed that that was the way things were headed. And, maybe if Jeffs hadn't been arrested, that's what we would have seen.
Still, it emerged that a child has called 911, from the compound. No small action since, as far as I was aware, there were no land line phones in the FYZ compound. How did this child get to a land line phone that would trace back to the FYZ compound? Or, did she use a cell phone? I don't know. Maybe we'll never know? And, so...the raid began. Woman were taken from the FYZ compound on buses from a local baptist church. And, on the Texas Polygamy blog (frequented by Creekers' and FLDS), the uproar was "Can you believe that they took these faithful people on a baptist bus?" No, really! If you tried to suggest that the bus was the least of the problems and that it was about time someone rescued those children, then you'd hear things like, "It's an honor to be a polygamous wife and have a baby at 13." Whisky Tango Foxtrot?!!!
The polygamous of this country are up in arms. They're comparing this to the Branch Davidian raid. But, really... they've been through this before. In the fifties, Governor Pile of Arizona raided Short Creek. The women and children were bused to Phoenix and housed in barracks. The men were charged with unlawful cohabitation and served jail time. But, when their time was up... back they went. And, no one blinked an eye. In fact, after the raid, people called for the immediate dismissal of the man who ordered it and made emotional appeals regarding the pictures of children being taken from their fathers. Americans closed their eyes on polygamy.
We pretended to care about those children instead of actually caring for them. Sure! It's heart-wrenching to watch a toddler scream for her father or mother as that father is led away in handcuffs. But, I guarantee you it's ten times more heart wrenching to see a thirteen year old girl beg not to be married to a fifty year old man and watch her polygamous father hand her over like chattel. It's twenty times more heartbreaking to watch a mother choose between getting out of the compound or staying with her children. The children become the property of the father and his eternal family at birth...mothers are granted few rights among the FLDS. It's devastating to watch girls as young as twelve be raped and beaten and see boys as young as twelve chased out of the compound because they're competition for the pretty girls. And, yet... most Americans didn't even know this place existed. They had no clue that there was a group much more insidious than conservative Islam right in their own backyard.
This group isn't dangerous because they choose to practice polygamy. I, actually, have no problem with polygyny (one husband, multiple wives) or even one wife and multiple husbands. If three consenting adults decide they want to live together and create a family (unorthodox though it might seem), then I say more power to them. But, the moment you marry CHILDREN to OLD MEN and DEMAND that CHILDREN enter into polygamy, then you've lost any and all right to live your unorthodox lifestyle. The moment you use threats of hell or death or excommunication to get a fourteen year old to sleep with a seventy year old, you've crossed the boundaries of human decency. Now, some will say that that is what these girls want. To that I say, "Bullshit!" Humans have a tendency to be attracted to those within their age group - it's a survival tool. If you have sex with the newest model, who attracts you physically, then you're likely getting healthy sperm/DNA. I have never ever known a teen age girl who says, "You know...I dreamed of marrying a man as old as my father." That's not saying these girls haven't been brainwashed or programmed to accept this inevitability. I know they have. But, coercion is not consent. Consensual sex between a twelve year old and a fifty year old is not consensual. These girls have been told that these men hold the key to their eternal salvation. They've been told that to deny these marriages is a direct affront to God and their prophet. You don't get to claim ecclesiastic supremacy and priesthood blessings and then suggest that these girls could've walked away. It's too much like a Catholic pedophile priest claiming that the children they abuse could've told on them. The deck is stacked against the child.
There have been interviews, now, with some of the caregivers tapped to help care for the hundreds of children that have now been removed from the YFZ Ranch. They talk of how children don't know what Crayola Crayons are. They talk of seeing 13 year old girls cry for a baby...only it's not their sibling: it's their child! One custodial guardian said that she took a girl in who started whimpering three hours after she was placed with her. The woman tried to comfort the girl. The girl sat stoically as breast milk started to stain the front of her dress. In an effort to try to hide the fact that she'd born a child, she denied being the child's mother and had handed the baby to a sister wife. Again I'll say...WHAT THE FUCK!?
And, the stories get worse every time I turn on the television to a point where I can't watch any more. Just as much as anyone, those who dismissed the FLDS as "Just another religion..." are responsible for the abuses that were allowed. There have been reports of child abuse for years. And, we knew that men were shuffling girls around for marriage. We knew that they were in violation of the Mann Act. But, somehow... the abuses and marriages continued. We turned our eyes to Iraq and radical Islam while we ignored the injustice in our own back yard. It's time for that to end.
This isn't about religion or religious freedom. It's about rape. It's about child neglect and abuse. And, it's time to end it.
Posted by Atheist in a mini van. at 3:51 PM