What caused the Czar’s intense skepticism about the simplicity and gentleness of Amish culture was the simple observation that the Amish sure do an awful lot of online marketing. Go to Google, type in amish furniture and look what pops up. Admittedly, a lot of these folks are probably not Amish at all, but are middlemen capitalizing on the name and reselling stuff made by hand. But not all of them are.
In fact, can there be that many middlemen? The Czar suspects that a lot of this furniture is real Amish furniture…and that leads him to wonder about order fulfillment. How can a small community—only some of whom actually build furniture—produce such amazing quantities of furniture? They use an awful lot of automation to do so.
But demand is high, and so they need an exemption from child labor laws to meet demand. Or, they just want the law to look the other way on dangerous treatment of children. Keep that in mind, as we will come back to that in a second.
The Czar is aware of Nappanee, Indiana’s Amish community. This link says it all, from the shop online section, to the upcoming announcement that the Amish Acres Musical Theatre [sic] is putting on High School Musical on May 9th and 10th. Reservations are highly recommended, and you can book that by phone or over the web.
See where the Czar is going with this?
The whole image of the simple farming life, of barn raising, slow-moving carriages, and home-baked goods is a stunning marketing ploy.
Could it get worse?
Absolutely. Let us return to that exemption on child labor law. Actually, we can move right past that because there are worse things under the surface of that idyllic, holy life: systematized child sexual abuse, rape and incest, and domestic violence as well.
Of course, these things exist in every culture, religious or not. But what makes this especially heinous is the crafted culture of silence that knowingly restricts any legal involvement, intervention, prosecution, or protection of innocent victims because it would be detrimental to the marketing image. Bad for business. This more than hypocrisy: it is outright injustice.
This news story asks if there is a dark side to the Amish. The Czar has himself concluded that it is beyond dark: it steps into evil.