You inspire millions in a way no modern generation has since the sixties! You’re more business savvy, you fact check everything you see, and possess a righteous indignation that fuels your idealism. Between the appearances at the Tony Awards and David Hogg urging an advertising boycott against Laura Ingraham’s description of the jail for child immigrants as ‘summer camps’, I support and applaud your presence and wish to pledge solidarity.
You faced a threat more menacing than guns or the NRA. You faced a dark network of lies and propaganda created by the likes of Alex Jones, Jerry Falwell, Jr, and even the current occupant of the White House.
This vicious network has crippled other types of activism, but you’re facing them head on! Let me tell you how this false conspiracy laden network almost destroyed the activism against abuse in fundamentalist ‘ministries’ for troubled teens..
Troubled teen facilities and religious children’s homes were the prototypes for the child internment camps.
Evangelists like Lester Roloff, who operated a string of girls homes, kept children in isolation and trained a generation of gurus who separated children from their parents and terrorized those kids with scripture, brutality, and get right rooms. Those who had the misfortune of being in jail and in Roloff homes have spoken about jail being an easier experience. You have rights in jail, but none can ever be exercised in a fundamentalist girls homes.
Survivors from abusive fundamentalist treatment centers united at a convention in Long Beach, Ca, in 2012. They previously shared their accounts online and then mass media caught on. Abusive programs were shutting down as a result of these articles. It was exciting to watch one program after another go down as stories of abuse went viral.
Arab Spring happened at the same time. The strength of social media was at an all time high.
When did it start to fall apart? Certainly when Facebook and other companies began using algorithms that limited the reach of the internet activists. But not everything is the fault of the media!
I think it began with some crazy idea that you can fight the abuse of Christian fundamentalists while still holding to the ideals of conservativism. J.R.R. Tolkein allegedly wrote, “You can’t fight the enemy while wearing the ring of an enemy lest you become an enemy yourself.”
True words, no matter who said it.
Take the reluctance of an advocate to recognize the breakdown of the barrier between separation of church and state as an issue that demands to be addressed.
“I don’t want to get into religion!” an advocate said to me.
Then there was the hesitancy to align against gay reparative centers because they were ‘apples and oranges’. Or, in the words of an advocate, aligning with the gay community would be, “Really controversial for some people.”
An article that reported the amount of child abuse was down was ridiculed by a support group leader who believed all government sponsored investigations were inadequate. Government sponsored research was trashed while anything from an NPO was embraced. There was no objective standard to measure whether we were making a positive, or negative, impact on the epidemic of child abuse.
“I never question the methods of another advocate.” This zinger said to me when I questioned the tactics of survivors in confronting the enablers of abuse at their fundamentalist girls homes.
A video had been posted on YouTube showing the survivors of a girl’s home shouting insults at the family of their abusers while the family shouted insults back (then a firearm was discharged in the family’s backyard). I couldn’t tell which group was more disturbing! The police showed up and did not make arrests.
They loved their guns and endorsed second amendment politicians whose public platforms protected fundamentalist abuse factories.
It became apparent that many of the survivors still harbored the political views of their abusers. This did not bode well for the future of their activism.
Then came Alex Jones and Pizzagate!
It was as if the lessons learned from the McMartin Pre-School trials were forgotten.
When Donald Trump brought those who accused Bill Clinton of abuse to the debates, the activism splintered. Many endorsed Trump and truly believed he was about to expose an elite group of abusers. When asked about those accusing their newfound hero of rape and abuse, they simply shrugged it off.
An invisible line had been crossed. It was now okay to question a victim’s testimony if the accused was Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was hauled off because of child abuse. Another group of women prepared to sue Trump for rape and harassment.
Who needs a secret elite group anymore?
The accusations against Harvey Weinstein brought new energy to the ‘me too’ movement founded by Tarana Burke, which united survivors of sexual abuse throughout the world. And the people being accused were in the public eye.
Secrets were shared world wide.
And now children were ripped from their parents, thrown in cages, and our leaders used scripture to justify it.
This was a golden opportunity for advocates to step up and declare, “We warned you about this! This is what happens when you give too much leeway to private unlicensed religious homes. You experimented and tortured us and, because no one complained, you are now inflicting these punishments on the children of the world!”
That didn’t happen. Not with my group anyway. We could not join in solidarity so we posted ‘sour grapes’ memes that showed we were upset that our cause was not front and center.
Was it because of racism? They all deny that. Yet, I can’t help but think of Matthew McConaughey’s jury speech at the end of A TIME TO KILL when he asked the jury to close their eyes and imagine the rape and abuse of a child victim. His final line, “Now, imagine she is white!”
Your generation stood up when David Hogg urged for an advertiser’s boycott against both the gun lobby and the misinformation network represented by Fox News. If anyone told him ‘apples and oranges’, he obviously didn’t listen.
Keep that up!
David Hogg did not just sticking to the issue of guns, because he recognized the core issue: adults treating the future like it’s disposable with absolutely no concern about the fate of their children.
Don’t let any man or woman steal your thunder! Keep fact checking. Hold on to that righteous indignation. Call out the truth as you see it.
This is your time.