Thursday, December 20, 2018

Newsflash: Wealthy Mennonites Throw Their Weight Around!

This time in South America — Paraguay, in fact.

Graeme Wood, on behalf of the Weekly Standard, seems bemused that Mennonites can wear ink, play electric guitar in church, race cars professionally and develop somewhat unsavoury reputations during their only-recently-acquired leisure time. In Paraguay, of all places!

Quaint Manitoba is also treated with an off-hand smirk — “There's a motto the Manitoba Tourism Council won't be promoting anytime soon: 'Mennonites come here to clean up their act.' O-ho-ho — please, my sides.

Even a (relatively) robust periodical like the Weekly Standard has a limited budget for fact-finding journalism, I realize. Here, for free, is some of the low-down Wood missed. One reason a former Supknust Schürtzenjäager like Rees-Koa Penner can clean up his act in Manitoba is the Mennonites in Manitoba acquired affluence and influence — and all the vices that attend this condition — several decades before their brethren in Paraguay.
Next: the snows of Manitoba!
We've jumped into the political fray, swung local, provincial and national policy via the usual capitalist levers — and through these and other behaviours we have spread for ourselves a wide smear of notoriety as a result. So it would be fair to suggest Manitoba Mennonites have also acquired some experience in “cleaning up” and returning to first principles a decade or two ahead of the Chaco Mennonites as well.

Wood's reportage of Chaco shenanigans strikes me as fairly lite stuff when contrasted with, say, Mexican Mennonite collusion with the Juarez Cartel. But I am nevertheless grateful for his piece. He's got me meditating on my own history with Paraguayan Mennonites (more later, perhaps), and on the history I was not aware of until I read Alfred Neufeld's outstanding account of the Mennonite Experience in ParaguayPart 1 over here and Part 2 over here. Read Neufeld. That is all.

h/t: thx, pdb!

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