No one votes extreme (like Americans)
By Avery Walker | RAW STORY COLUMNIST
I have long taken for granted the fact that, while
religious extremists in America were savagely repugnant
human beings (especially dictators-and-diamonds Pat,)
their more extreme views were largely ignored by the
American masses. I took comfort in this. I took even
greater comfort in the fact that they weren’t
as radical as the religious extremists produced by other
nations. They didn’t openly advocate political
violence, and occasionally apologized when they knew
they’d crossed the line. America has always had
more than its fair share of extremists, but they didn’t
run the show, and they never approached the heights
of fanaticism reached by some of the world’s more
notorious religious leaders. Then, I looked at the numbers.
In Pakistan, a terrorist
group previously banned from the polls is hoping to
win local offices in a tried-and-true tactic that’s
become downright red white and blue: They’re trying
to sue their way in. Of their 370 candidates in Punjab,
170 are challenging their losses legally; 90 of their
190 candidates in Sindh are contesting results there.
They face an uphill battle, though: Many of their leaders
have been arrested in a post-7/7 terror crackdown. How
this could have happened to an organization with a name
like Millat-e-Islamia is beyond me.
The important thing is that they wouldn’t have
to challenge results if they hadn’t lost the elections
to begin with. The party, simply, can’t win at
the polls. In the last regular election, the Millat
party joined with two others in a coalition that captured
under 5% of the vote. This is a little difficult to
track, however. For some reason, they keep changing
Now, compare that to the 27% of the vote that Alan
Keyes received. Against Barack Obama. In the very blue
state of Illinois. After calling his opponent’s
positions, “wicked and evil,” the Vice President’s
daughter a “selfish hedonist” (much like
Keyes’ own, unfortunate daughter,) and referring
to the President as “Massah Bush,” in criticism
of the tax code. To be clear here, I’m not saying
that Keyes’ positions are as extreme as a terrorist
organization; I’m saying that 27% of Americans
will vote for anybody who says God tells 'em to.
The same cannot be said of nations in regions dominated
by religious extremists. Voters generally reject religious
extremists more overwhelmingly than we defeated Alan
Keyes, or they would Jerry Falwell. For heaven's sake,
people; can't we do a little better than Pakistan? Time
after time we see this pattern in world elections.
The 62% hardliner win in Iran is certainly alarming,
but it does seem there is just cause to doubt the validity
of the run-off election. Hamas made major gains in elections
earlier this year, but they had the advantages of Tehran
corruption scandals and conflict on the Gaza strip.
Even with all that on their side, they still couldn’t
win a majority. Generally, the bad guys are in charge
because there weren’t fair elections. We get to
choose which bad guys get the big guns, here.
About five years ago, a growing number of westerners—left-wing
women’s groups and European journalists, mostly—began
to focus the public’s attention on the largely
ignored plight of women in Afghanistan. In 1998, Clinton
had ordered strikes on Afghanistan, yes, but these were
aimed at terrorist training camps, and had nothing to
do with the bizarre and rising level of oppression Afghan
women were subject to. The world was outraged by a BBC
program and film documentary on the subject, and worldwide
protest came as a reslult of the Taliban’s March
2001 destruction of the 1,500 year-old Buddhas of Bamiyan.
Still, there was no U.S. intervention. Some feminist
leaders claimed that all of this was tolerated by the
United States in order to secure a pipeline deal. Then,
when things hit home on 9/11, we were finally forced
to take action. And the pipeline still happened.
Under the Taliban’s version of Islamic law (very
little of which was derived from the actual Koran or
any prior form of Islamic law,) women were forced to
wear oppressive clothing and spend most—if not
all—of their time in a home, usually with black
painted windows. This, leaders claimed, was justified
“protection”. And it is true that the women
of Afghanistan were no longer subject to the systematic
rapes that ruled the land before the Taliban, and came
to be once again under “coalition” (read:
warlord) rule. But, this is clearly not sufficient cause
to “lock yer women away,” as they say, let
alone bar them from receiving an education, or allow
them only to work in the health care industry. (Try
to reconcile those two thoughts for a moment, and you’ll
see why average life expectancy in the impoverished
and war-torn country was a youthful 43.)
But, these decisions were hardly made democratically,
and women weren’t the only ones suffering. Men
had to enforce these deranged rules, under
penalty of death. And, if you think they liked it, you’re
not really considering the realities of the situation.
Not every man can channel his repressed sexuality into
a sadistic game of domination. It takes a special type.
Although, I will admit that to get that sort of thing
in the States, you do generally have to pay extra.
Men were also subject to another set of barbaric rules.
Their beards had to be a certain length, they weren’t
allowed to play sports, and were subject to forcible
conscription in the Taliban. It wasn’t exactly
the sort of ol’ boys environment we associate
with sexism. Extreme forms of female oppression are
never the will of the male population as a whole.
One British journalist held by the Taliban for daring
to roam the streets without a husband actually described
most of her captors as sympathetic. She even called
them “too nice.” Stockholm Syndrome? Unlikely,
since she had nothing good to say about the Taliban
To put it simply: No people as a whole, and very rarely
as a majority, want to live under the rule of an oppressive
fideist. Not even Afghanistan, a feudal society as backward
as any other on planet earth, wants that kind of leadership.
So how is it that Americans in this day and age will
still, from time to time, buy into it?
I can’t think of a better example of “sexism
gone wild” coming back to slap the asses of a
male population than the “lost boys” of
the FLDS church. The cult itself is an offshoot of the
mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(Mormon) faith, which splintered away in the early part
of the 20th century over some minor philosophical issues.
What are these subtle, nuanced differences between the
faiths? The FLDS church believes that women are spiritually
inferior to men, and that a man must then have at least
three wives to get into Heaven. Mainstream Mormons disagree.
(Also, at least one of the church’s four US sects
teaches that black people are the "rude and filthy…
seed of Cain," but that’s another story entirely.)
Now, in a sexual sense, three women to every man is
some people’s idea of a good time. Many people’s,
in fact. But only in that sense. Three wives is a fairly
unappealing thought to anybody who isn’t frenetically
obsessed with the subjugation of women. This system
has serious, negative consequences for men, as well.
All of this, of course, is in service of a system
that aims to mistreat women. And in order for the girls
to play along, it either requires a great deal of force,
or women who are convinced that they aren’t a
man’s equal. Reports from ex-members imply that
this is done through not only theological teaching,
but psychological and sometimes physical abuse. It also
requires a lot of women—which drives members of
the church to marry girls off young (meaning, in their
These three offenses mixed in a horrifying way in
the head of Allen Rex Harrod, a self-described “Mormon
prophet” living in the Sacramento area. Harrod
allegedly took his fascination with early FLDS polygamist
writings to a disturbing end: He stands accused of ritualistically
raping and molesting three of his daughters and a stepdaughter
for over 25 years. The stepdaughter he was known to
refer to as his “second wife.” Scholars
have long believed that while it was common for teen
girls in polygamist sects to be assigned marriages to
much older men, child abuse was unheard of.
In 2003, however, a police officer and FLDS church
member Rodney Holm was convicted of statutory rape and
bigamy. His wives were re-assigned to other men. During
the upheaval that followed, two teenage girls, Fawn
Holm and Fawn Broadbent, fled the community in Arizona,
shedding more light on the church’s treatment
of women. As if the fact that between the three of them
they only had two first names and two last names wasn’t
enough to confirm suspicion of incest, the girls were
also eager to talk about their experiences with reporters
and authorities. They helped confirm claims that girls
within the church were forced to marry, often at an
early age. Church leader Warren Jeffs is now in hiding
over charges stemming from all this and welfare fraud,
So, with the women down at heel, the men must be living
it up, right?
Time to test your math. The birth ratio of males to
females is very roughly even, with minor variations
from generation to generation. Females generally survive
longer, but this hardly changes the nearly 50/50 ratio.
Now, assume that in order to get into Heaven, each man
has to marry three women. How are you going to achieve
this? Answer: Get rid of 2/3 of the men, as soon as
they show interest in women.
In recent years, about 400-1,000 teens (brought into
the spotlight through a series of news reports in June,)
have been expelled from the church, driven outside of
the community, and dropped on the side of the road.
This was most often for offenses as grievous as wearing
short-sleeved shirts, listening to music, or having
girlfriends. The vast majority (if not all) of these
children are male teenagers.
As a result of one man’s psychological deficiencies,
and inability to do simple math almost a hundred years
ago, boys are being abandoned outside of communities
in Utah and Arizona at an incredible rate. They are
deprived of contact with their family after essentially
being told that they’re going to hell by the church
they’ve bought into. And, since the church exists
within communities it controls entirely, the boys are
expelled from the world as they know it.
Once again, we see that oppression of women destroys
the lives of men, as well. And once again, a community
buys into it. But this time, it’s happening in
America, today. It took a long line of gullible, dimwitted
Americans to carry this movement to the 21st century.
Can we really say that our culture is safely out of
the reach of hellfire-wielding despots?
Are we really any more progressive, all things considered,
than Pakistan? I wonder: If Warren Jeffs ran
for office in his home town, would he receive Millat
Party’s 4.6% of the vote, or something closer
to Alan Keyes 27%? And, would he win?
Avery Walker is a Managing Editor for Raw Story,
and can be reached at [email protected].