The Polygamy Files, a blog at the Salt Lake City Tribune written by Brooke Adams focused on "the plural life," describes that incident 55-years ago and relates it to the raid in Eldorado:
I feel I am watching history unfold -- and repeat itself.Adams is right that, from the perspective of the kids, what Texas has done in Eldorado won't seem kinder or gentler than the Short Creek incident 55 years ago. In Utah the Short Creek raid was seen as an iconic mistake that violated people's rights based on overhyped charges of child abuse. In the end, backlash against overzealous tactics made it more difficult after Short Creek to prosecute real incidents of child abuse among polygamists. That could easily turn out to be the case in Eldorado, given the scale of the overreaction.
Allegations of child abuse/neglect and underage brides were raised way back in 1953 when Arizona authorities took over 250 women and children out of Short Creek, the community now known as Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
They're being raised again now.
In 1953, Arizona authorities monitored the people for a few days in the community, feeding them in a chow line set up in a field, and then loaded them on buses for a long drive to Phoenix.
Women were allowed to stay with their children, but the men were separated out.
The women and children were kept in state custody for two years.
Can't say ''ditto'' yet, but it appears no one is going home any time soon. A spokeswoman said today that Child Protection Services has 30 days to finish its investigation.
And the state has already taken legal custody of 18 girls -- exactly why, no one is saying. Are the teens in danger of being married off? Are they pregnant? Have they been abused, neglect, deprived of an education?
The media corps, me included, are getting restless for specifics -- particularly from law enforcement.
Some people are describing this as a kinder, gentler action than happened in 1953.
I don't think that description works when you're talking about young children -- and there are hundreds of them involved here -- who've been taken from their homes and made to stay in a church hall or civic center and then military outpost, all in the space of three days. And they face the prospect of other moves to strange locales, too.
It's been said that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, and that saying IMO so far applies in this case. If history recalls the Short Creek raid as "tragedy," the Eldorado raid seems destined to be remembered as farce, albeit a tragic one.
Like Adams, whatever the authorities find as a result of the raid, "I hope it justifies all this."
- "The Lonely Men of Short Creek," Life magazine, September 14, 1953
- "A brief history of the polygamists in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale Utah," Rick Ross, April 2002
- "The modern raid on polygamy," Brooke Adams and Pamela Manson, SLC Tribune, Aug. 21, 2005
- Photos from the Eldorado raid, Trent Nelson, photojournalist