In the days and weeks following the West Nickel Mines Amish school murders, hegemonic U.S. cultural discourse largely fetishized the Amish response of forgiveness in revealing ways. Within this discourse, the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 were referenced in articles and commentaries which sought to weigh the moral value of forgiveness in response to extreme violence. In this way, understandings of Amish forgiveness were largely “strip-mined” from the Nickel Mines community and “transported wholesale” to other counter-cultural settings. In dominant U.S. capitalistic and consumeristic culture, Amish forgiveness quickly became a fluctuating material commodity that was fetishized in ways which revealed the destabilized moral consciousness of a nation. Dominant cultural discourse exposed this destabilization while it also worked to interrogate it. I conclude that the fetishization of forgiveness following the Amish school murders reflected collective concerns that reached far beyond the immediate context of the Nickel Mines Amish community. The U.S. cultural fetishization of forgiveness revealed, instead, a cultural consciousness that desperately sought relief from the chaos and confusion of what it means to be a citizen of nation that exists in and by the normativity of extreme violence.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited