I’ve come to think of the Duggars as America’s favorite Muslim family. Not just any Muslim family; a very conservative Muslim family, operating under traditional, strict, patriarchal control. I thought of this last night while watching Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar spin their way out of any responsibility for their son’s sexual crimes against four of his sisters plus one girl who was a friend of the family visiting them on their set – oops, I mean their Arkansas home where they live and film 19 Kids and Counting. Last night’s interview was with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, which proved to be a very congenial environment for conservative, beleaguered Christians like the Duggars. I’ll discuss at the end of this article all the striking parallels between the Duggars and a typical, conservative Muslim family, but first let’s see what they had to say on Fox News. The interview was scheduled to be all about their son Josh Duggar and his admitted sexual molestation of four of his sisters plus one neighboring girl. The youngest victim was age 5, Joy-Anna Duggar.
In the end, the interview wasn’t about Josh Duggar, admitted sexual offender and pedophile. It was all about Jim Bob, and his attempts to exonerate himself and his wife for allowing a sexual molester lose in his house for over a year. His history is quite clear. He was a state legislator in Arkansas and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002, using his wife and his cute kids as campaign props. His kids turned out to be more fascinating to the public than he was, including the fact they were all home schooled, they were incessantly polite, and Jim Bob and Michelle trained them up under some weird Quiverfull cult doctrines. Interview requests began coming in even though Jim Bob lost, and when he eventually left politics, he began working on television show ideas. The Learning Channel did a documentary on the family that proved popular, and a reality show was formed, geared off the fact that Michelle kept popping out children every year. 17 and Counting! More kept coming, and the public was fascinated with how Michelle kept doing it, feeding such a large family, running a full time classroom, all the time dealing with pregnancy.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Jim Bob was puppet-mastering everything, arranging for the TV network to build him a new house, for corporations to give him free stuff as product placements, and for viewers to contribute to an on-line gift program at Wal-Mart for any of the girls who got married. When the cameras weren’t around, he would beat his children with a rod if any got sassy or refused to smile happily at all times. Oh yes, while he was running for the Senate, telling voters that pedophiles should be executed, his eldest son Josh was sexually molesting four of his sisters and a visiting girl, and his youngest victim was little Joy-Anna, age 5.
“But they were all asleep,” assured Michelle to the audience last night. And Josh really gave them love taps of a sort on their vaginas, while they had their clothes on, and only a few times did he remove their panties. Besides, said Jim Bob, Josh confessed to us three times, and we just felt we were such terrible parents, added Michelle. Jim Bob said they watched him carefully, and prayed with him after each confession. When he persisted in making “the wrong choices,” they had no choice but to turn him over to the police.
About the only thing in this tale consistent with the police report, which has now been officially destroyed at Jim Bob’s request, through a legal petition filed by Joy-Anna who is still under age and has that right, is that four of the sisters were molested and one visiting girl. The police report makes it clear Josh did not confess at first if at all; one of the girls who was molested “four or five times” finally went tearfully to the father complaining about Josh. Jim Bob did nothing meaningful, and Josh was caught again three months later. This time Jim Bob “disciplined” Josh, meaning he beat him with a rod, which is what one of the girls testified was the normal punishment that all of them received from time to time. Still, Josh persisted, and it took a full year before Jim Bob sent him away to work during the summer at a friend’s construction company.
We can begin to see what really happened in this dysfunctional family, where Jim Bob and Michelle, even back in 2002 and 2003, were absentee parents who had devolved their parental authority onto their children in something they called the “buddy system.” Each elder child was completely responsible for the behavior of a younger child, and could spank them if they wished. You could just see the older girls, during Josh’s year-long reign of terror, telling the younger girls, “pretend you’re asleep when Josh comes around. Don’t move and maybe he’ll go away.” It’s very clear now that all the girls in the family were forced to deal with a situation where a sexual predator was let loose in the house for over a year, because their parents had long ago given up actual parenting.
The Absentee Parents
This is the tragic reality of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar – they are terrible parents who let horrifying abuse continue in their house, and I’m referring to the fact that elder children can beat younger children whenever they want. The sexual abuse that Josh Duggar perpetrated was on a whole other level of depravity and criminality. Either way, these people should never have been entitled to parade themselves on television as perfect parents with perfect children.
Now they are into damage control, and you can see Jim Bob’s manipulative mind at work, telling us that they weren’t mandatory reporters under Arkansas law, requiring them to report Josh to the authorities. That does not explain why the church elders Jim Bob had interview Josh, and to whom he confessed some element of his crime, did not report him, because they were mandatory reporters. Also, Josh is not a pedophile, Jim Bob corrected Megyn Kelly, because he was under the age of 17. In most states, pedophilia is defined by the difference in ages, not the absolute age of the perpetrator, but Jim Bob wants to get the public to drop this notion that his son is a pedophile, when he clearly is. You could just imagine Jim Bob counting down the days until the statute of limitations passed, and he was safe to let his family out on national television because Josh could no longer be charged with anything. All that was necessary, should the news leak out about what he did, was for Jim Bob to do a bit of damage control.
And that was what the interview last night on Fox News was all about. It was the Duggar parents whining about the terrible time they had while this was going on for a whole year, and how they did everything they could by keeping it within the family and not letting the authorities know anything about Josh. Megyn Kelly gave them ample time to be victims, so they took the opportunity to complain about how evil the public has been to the poor girls, who have suffered so much and must now relive this horrible experience that had been dead and buried 12 long years ago. And how did this report get illegally released, Jim Bob wanted to know? Why isn’t the media looking at that?
The report was legally released, through a Freedom of Information Act request from a gossip magazine. No doubt Jim Bob was pleased to see a state legislator – perhaps a friend of his – demand that the person who released this report be fired for doing their job.
This is how rape culture within fundamentalist Christian families works. The rapist is exonerated if not exalted, while the victims are forced to forgive him to avoid their bitterness eating them up inside. Everything is kept hidden and forgotten, with nothing ever made public, so that criminal behavior is never subjected to civilian review and punishment. The Josh Duggar molestation fit this pattern exactly, with complete help from his parents, who to this day say nothing about the trauma their girls experienced other than to complain that now they must relive it, which always happens if the truth should ever leak out.
Every step of the way, Jim Bob has worked to suppress public knowledge of what happened, including recently having the full report destroyed. This is all about him doing whatever is necessary to impede any outside effort that might endanger his tyrannical control over this family of 19 children, some of whom are now adults, and who still remain under his control. This is also about sustaining the enormous amounts of income he derives from his family franchise, and it is about the political power he was beginning to build within the Republican Party, a power far greater than any he could have wielded as a senator. He has every major Republican candidate for president begging for his endorsement or just the chance to be filmed next to his precious family of perfect children.
Now he is trying to rebuild all that. So far he has some local judicial and legislative allies helping him, he has Mike Huckabee praising him the minute the news about Josh came out, and he has millions of followers of his television program pressuring TLC to keep the weekly episodes coming. He has Fox News giving him a puffball interview where he and Michelle can play the real victims here, fighting off the terrible liberals who are persecuting Christians. He has TLC saying virtually nothing in public, obviously trying to figure out a way to keep the Duggar money machine going (it’s their most profitable franchise), by maybe excising Josh out of it and focusing more on the adult girls who are starting to fulfill their roles as breed mares. Money, money, money! There is a lot of money down the drain if the Duggars are forced off television, so we will now be able to witness how the media will be able to play its role in whitewashing criminal sexual behavior for a price.
And just so you know, Fox News gave a teaser to the television audience last night, informing them that Jill and Jessa, the two married Duggar daughters who have already begun giving birth annually, will be interviewed Friday night to tell their side of the story. There will be tears, leavened with plenty of forgiveness for Josh, and implicit reminders that he has made his peace with God. Everybody needs to move on, the girls will remind us, preferably to more television shows about them. Don’t be surprised when their newest babies make a heart-tugging appearance as well. If only these babies could talk, they would plead with The Learning Channel to bring them back on so they can be displayed for the public’s voyeuristic delight, just as God always intended.
Understand this: everything that will be said Friday night has already been rehearsed thoroughly by Jim Bob, and the words mouthed will be Jim Bob’s words. That is how this family has always worked. And that is how a sexual molester was allowed to roam freely through the girls’ bedrooms, month after month for over a year, giving them gentle love taps on their vaginas. And how he was allowed to escape legal justice for his actions, while his father was at the same time on the campaign trail demanding that pedophiles be executed. This is conservative Christian hypocrisy at work.
America’s Favorite Muslim Family
And one final point. I view the Duggars as America’s favorite Muslim family. I’ve traveled extensively in the Middle East and other Muslim countries, from Indonesia and Malaysia, to Albania. Having met thousands of people in virtually every Muslim country, I’ve seen conservative Islam at work among a few of the families I’ve met. The Duggars are very much like a conservative Muslim family. The father is in absolute control of the family, and can and will beat his children and wife whenever he wants. The sons may get an education, but the girls definitely do not. They are destined to be sold off to another family where they will raise children and continue to lead a cloistered life. In some countries women aren’t allowed to drive a car. Jim Bob is exactly like a patriarchal conservative Muslim father, who beats his children, keeps his daughters illiterate, and passes them off to the next brutal father who follows strict religious standards for raising a family. Jim Bob won’t even let his older daughter, Jana, who refuses to get married to a Quiverfull man, leave the house. She’s not even allowed to drive a car or own one.
The final, exquisite irony in all this is that the Duggars operate within an environment of Christian sharia law. Civil and criminal justice does not apply to them. Any legal action that needs to be taken for crimes they commit is handled privately, quietly, and by church elders. Any counseling necessary is done through church organizations. The millions of viewers who watch this program, and are now demanding that it be brought back to television, are bleating incessantly about God’s forgiveness, and how humans cannot judge Josh as he has already repented to God, reported to the “authorities” (a family friend who just happened to be a state trooper who conveniently refused to file an official report on the crime), and lived a blameless life ever since. These viewers are not only complicit in the culture of silence required by sexual molesters within Fundamentalist Christian families, they are also ignorantly supporting Christian sharia law. They don’t care that Josh has evaded criminal justice, with the criminal abetting of his parents along the way. Christians may only be subjected to Christian justice through their churches, as long as they repent. Sharia law, in other words, is here already. It just hasn’t arrived in the Islamic form that terrifies conservatives, but in a friendly, domestic, Christian form that is easy to overlook and very convenient for Christians when they want to exonerate a criminal in their midst.
(Numerian writes on his own blog, In Mankind’s Image, where you can read more about the Duggars and related matters).
This post was read 359 times.