“Educated” has me shook. Jesus Christ, I can’t remember a book that hit so home and was so disturbing to me.
I was raised Mormon, served two years as a missionary, and gradually found myself out of the Church after learning about Church historical inaccuracies and the November 2015 LBGTQ policy. Between that time that I attended BYU-Idaho, lived in Ogden, and started a fledgling militia with about 60 Idahoans. I know these people: Idahoans, Mormons, and Survivalists. I still identify a little in each. It’s in Idaho that I first became associated with ideals for small government, and fell in love with American history. I also became skeptical of the US government. It was after the Sandy Hook massacre that I dived into prepping. My mother has always been a staunch adherent to the Church’s pleading for each member to have preparations for harsh times, and I began to follow suit. The Boy Scout in me craved preparedness, the Mormon in me wanted the prophets’ predictions to be true, and the libertarian in me was suspicious that the government would take my weapons away. I thought the crime in Connecticut would be the catalyst. About a year after I started putting feelers out for likeminded people, and formed a militia. This is how I familiarized myself with people like Tara Westover’s family.
The militia was an utter failure, but through it I truly discovered how distrustful people are of the American government. I had no idea these people existed. But I was convinced of their thinking too. I interned at a magazine directed at this audience, and grew to know the readership base as well. The owner of the magazine told me that he initially wanted to aim it at activists in the Three-Percent movement, but, from what I remember, he said it was too tainted by racism and lunacy. This is sadly too common for much of the prepping world.
(Trust me, I’m getting to my point.)
Since graduating from BYU-I, I’ve moved to Washington state, and it could be said I’ve become corrupted by the liberal agenda. My values have explored, and I’m definitely open to more liberal ideas. I don’t feel like I’ve betrayed the ideals of government protection of life, liberty, and property, and I’ve thought that government should give enough rope to people for them to metaphorically hang themselves. While that quip is somewhat funny and maybe trite, this book has really made me question it. The family is the smallest social unit in society. In it, people should have the most amount of freedoms possible, unless it infringes on one of the three prior mentioned. However, the freedom the Westover family wielded also permitted—nay, fostered—intellectual and physical violence! It’s with this superstition and paranoia that members of those families question reality and suffer from mental illness for their entire lives!
It is not the duty or even the permission of any group of people—formalized as a government or even a mob—to tell others what is right or what is wrong. Indoctrination must be voluntary, or else it won’t be genuine and will eventually lead to rebellion. What is the solution here, then? Is it right to let parents rule as patriarchal and matriarchal tyrants, using religion as a propagandist tool? It happens everywhere in the world, from Idaho, to Afghanistan, to the Philippines. Region can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be dangerous. There is no way to prevent anyone from using it as a crutch for their extremism. There can only be incentives that draw families to volunteer themselves away from it.
But what? Am I just convincing myself?
This book has moved me. It has me asking deep questions. The prose is fine, maybe even a little basic, and less than what I would think I doctor would write. However, more prosaic text would probably limit the audience it would speak, and this is a message that everyone should read. No question: 5/5 stars.