Saturday, December 06, 2008

Small-Town Ugly

Tragedy struck our greater community while we were out of state: A little Amish girl was run over and killed on her way home from school, in whiteout conditions, by a driver who'd become disoriented and pulled onto the shoulder to wait out the windstorm.

What should be happening is an outpouring of sympathy for everyone involved -- for the child and her family and for the driver as well. I don't think any of us who live in the Upper Midwest can hear a story like this and not see ourselves in similar driving conditions, becoming involved in a similar accident.

What's going on instead is the blame game -- focused on the Amish community. Although the Amish have, I understand, been in regular contact with the driver involved, offering forgiveness and comfort through what must be a horrible time, I've heard grumbling around the local cracker barrel about "Oh, yeah -- those people talk a good game about forgiveness, but I heard that they'll just sue them in civil court." I've heard non-Amish citizens blame the children walking home from school for not walking against traffic: "Why were those kids over on that side of the road anyway?" (Maybe because little Amish children have the same degree of critical thinking skills as "English" children the same age?) Today I heard a store clerk speak approvingly about a town cop coming down hard on an Amish woman whose buggy horse had defecated at its hitching post in the large parking lot next to the store -- something not at all uncommon in an area with a large Amish population -- warning her that he was going to keep driving past that spot in the parking lot for the rest of the day, and if the mess wasn't cleaned up by then he was going to write her a ticket.

We don't have a lot of visible minority groups in our area. You kind of have to work at finding someone "different" enough to pick on. So, especially in anxious times, the Amish are a handy target.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

This is sad all around. Usually a small community pulls together when there is a tragedy. If fact, I was just reading in our local paper about the funeral of a 12 year old boy of a minority group/culture in the town just east of here and the letter to the editor said such good things about the funeral ceremony and the pulling together of the people.

But I suspect that with the Amish, there is the difference that they keep themselves separate, so the majority people don't consider them to be part of "their" community. I don't condone the negativity, but there is the "fact" that if you aren't part of a community conversation in good times, the community isn't there for you in bad times (as much.)

No Amish here; we've got too short of a growing season, but they are common in areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota where my relatives live. People are always intrigued and suspicious of differences.

Anonymous said...

I agree "how Sad" Don't the Amish shop in the local stores? Don't the Amish pay property taxes? Aren't they good sober law abiding citizens? We only have a small number in our area but I do see them shopping in the local stores.
Cheers. Naomi

LutheranChik said...

If the Amish in our community packed up and left -- which historically they are willing to do -- many of our local businesses, especially supermarkets and hardware/farm stores, would take a profound hit.

Rev Scott said...

One bone to pick with you, LC - this is ugly wherever you find it. Yikes. Why do we do this to each other?

Crimson Rambler said...

I am so sorry and... taken by surprise -- people have to be hard-up for somebody to pick on, to settle on the Amish. Prayers for the community, for the child and her family, and for the driver, too.

southernbooklover said...

This is heart-breaking. Prayers for all involved. Why do people look for ways to create distance and anger?