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Open AccessArticle

The West Nickel Mines Amish School Murders and the Cultural Fetishization of “Amish Forgiveness”

Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, LA 52242, USA
Religions 2019, 10(9), 524; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090524
Received: 29 July 2019 / Revised: 4 September 2019 / Accepted: 10 September 2019 / Published: 11 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Beliefs and the Morality of Payback)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: Amish; forgiveness; revenge; Fetishism; violence; September 11; Religious Ethics Amish; forgiveness; revenge; Fetishism; violence; September 11; Religious Ethics
MDPI and ACS Style

Metcalfe, D. The West Nickel Mines Amish School Murders and the Cultural Fetishization of “Amish Forgiveness”. Religions 2019, 10, 524.

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