Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Hah, hah — aren't those Amish quaint?

Joel Stein: What’s Next … With The Amish.

I wrote this letter to Time:

I’m fairly appalled at the patronizing tone Joel Stein takes in his column ‘What’s next…with the Amish,’ as posted on-line Oct 17:

Stein could have chosen to ask how the Amish go about making decisions about new technologies rather than making fun of them or assuming that many are looking for ‘loopholes’ that would allow them to use cell phones and Rollerblades. He might have learned something about how a community can choose how and why to deploy new technologies. But he preferred to ‘taunt’ the Amish with his ‘little bit of reporting.’ (And I would emphasize the ‘little bit’ rather than ‘reporting;’ as far as I know, for example, Amish groups don’t forbid drinking Cokes or require ’28 layers of clothing.’)

Instead, the Amish are played for easy laughs. Sorry, Mr. Stein; ethnic and religious stereotyping is not “What’s next.” It’s an old, old story.

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4 responses to “Hah, hah — aren't those Amish quaint?

  1. Daniel Lemire October 17, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    To be fair, Will, there is rather little information on the Amish: these guys ought to setup web sites (yes, it is a joke). I don’t think there are any Amish in Quebec or Atlantic Canada which are the only places I lived. While watching an (American) movie about the Amish, I decided to read up on them and was disappointed at what I found.

    Now, I just found this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish

    and it was pretty useful.

  2. Will October 17, 2005 at 6:37 pm

    There’s actually a wonderful Canadian Mennonite resource:

    http://www.mhsc.ca/encyclopedia/search.html

    with some good articles on the Amish. I know there are Amish in Ontario.

  3. Mark Fitzgerald October 18, 2005 at 6:47 am

    Ignorance, I believe lowers a person’s intellect.

  4. Natalia October 19, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    I think the author of the article was actually trying to get across that the Amish aren’t fossilized. Why he felt compelled to do it from a place that assumed a condescending attitude toward them is a little mystifying to me, though. Usually when I’m trying to refute stereotypes, I don’t do it by evoking them left and right. Great letter, Will.

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