Image copyright of Sarah Campbell (©SarahCampbellLtd2014). Used with permission.
With the recent posting of an article in Jezebel that highlights the Natalie Greenfield case, Doug Wilson has brought out the big guns. His broadsides are firing everything he is apparently legally allowed to do in order to damage Natalie’s credibility and witness. I’m not going to touch what he said about Gary Greenfield. Natalie has done that, perhaps in anticipation of something like this happening, in the most thorough manner possible via the witness of those closest to the case.
First off, simple housekeeping:
Turner says that all NSA students and Greyfriars live with families. I don’t know who made that up, but somebody did. It is not true at all. And there are many other things I could say about the article, but we don’t have all night.
It’s possible I missed this in my reading and re-reading of the article, and in my searching for key phrases, but I can’t find where Turner writes this at all. Here’s what I found:
Like many students at New St. Andrews and Greyfriar Hall—which is to say, like Jamin Wight—Sitler boarded with a local family.
Yet at no time has he made changes to the policies at his schools that placed young boarders in local family homes, nor did he take responsibility for the fact that asking community members to trust him about the fitness of these young men has backfired. As far as I can tell, in Moscow, students and families alike are encouraged to live with each other in order to foster community and avoid the kind of social stratification that often occurs in college towns.
That is a far cry from stating that all NSA and Greyfriar students live with families. What is stated, or even implied, is no more than what is stated on the official New St. Andrew’s Website:
Students are responsible for their own housing arrangements. Costs for boarding with local Christian families vary considerably, depending on the living and meal arrangements.
Students are encouraged to live and to work as responsible members of the local community. As a result, the College offers no on-campus housing or food services. Many students board with Christian families in the community or live in apartments in or close to downtown.
New St. Andrew’s explicitly encourages, as part of being a responsible member of the community, that students board with Christian families in the community, yet somehow stating that many students do board with Christian families, or that the school advocates this is lying. That is the sort of man we’re dealing with in this issue. Someone who will baldly and obviously lie about what an article critical of him states to score a cheap point before moving in for the kill.
Wilson is very keen on giving dates in this post, but there’s one missing that catches my attention. Wilson writes this:
In 2005, I received a phone call from a woman in the Tri-Cities whose daughter was engaged to Jamin. She told me that Natalie had called her daughter, Jamin’s fiance, and told her about what Jamin had previously done to her. That’s how I found out about this.
The Tri-Cities in this case probably refers to the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, three cities in Eastern Washington with a community of various Reformed Churches.
The Greenfield family filed a complaint against Jamin and I reported what had happened to our board of elders (8/18/05).
Here’s where the dates start, but the first quote has none. Did Doug Wilson notify the board of elders what he had learned at that time, the Heads of Households? It’s possible that the phone call took place on 8/17/2015 or some other close date and the notification of the board of elders took place soon afterwards, but the omission of the date seems unusual to me. This is a post where Wilson is offering the strongest possible defense of his actions, and offers many dates to show how quickly he responded, but we don’t know one of the most important ones: how quickly he learned of what had transpired and had informed the elders and his congregation.
Wilson also brings up a few letters that Natalie wrote about trusting him and his judgment in this case, but as she wrote recently, “In 2006 I professed health & happiness but in truth I was dying internally” Hasn’t everyone been there? Putting on a smile and feigning faith in the establishment in a desperate attempt to prevent more conflict, to bring everything back to the way it used to be? I have not suffered one tenth of one percent as much as Natalie has, but it reminds me of my own behavior. As time progresses we gain understanding, not just of the world around us but of our own selves. Does anyone like the selves the way they were 10 years ago? I know I don’t, I hate that guy. To dismiss what Natalie says now because of what she wrote then is dismissing what she’s learned through her healing process, both the trials and the triumphs. It trivializes her growing understanding of herself and her situation in favor of whatever benefits Wilson best.
Finally, and this is how you know that Wilson is writing for the True Believers, he brings up videos that Natalie’s husband has made that he considers distasteful. He says:
this is not retaliation, and it is not provocative. It is not gasoline on the fire. This is the kind of thing I have been laboring to prevent, not for my own sake but for the sake of others. I told Natalie in an email a while ago that it was not possible to dig up half a corpse. But if you insist, if you demand, if you keep it up, if you finally get your story on Jezebel, the rest of the corpse comes too. So this is where we now are. You wanted the whole story, and we are almost there. Unfortunately, for all you angry Internet personnel out there, this is just one more instance of you swinging at one person like me and hitting Natalie instead.
Except that is exactly what doing that is. He is trying to use something her husband made to dismiss her testimony, her voice, her experience. You can be a Reformed, conservative Christian like myself and understand that the video has no relevance to Natalie and her story. It is craven pandering to his legion of followers to show what a messed up person Natalie and her family is and you better believe we don’t tolerate that sort of thing. He fails to understand that you can not like what her husband created (Like myself) yet see that it is being used as nothing but a red herring to distract from the actual issues that Wilson helped create. To hearken back to my very first post, The Gospel for Shepherds, people like Wilson need to understand how they can bear the responsibility for a fallout like this through their own mishandling of a case of such a dire nature. If Natalie was of such sound mind in 2006 like he says, if she was properly under his shepherding and healing, how did she fall in such a way that he now feels the need to dig up this “corpse” to display to his followers? No matter which perspective you look at it from, he blew it.
Wilson’s defenestration of the Greenfields will be persuasive to his followers. It will be persuasive to people who are just now learning about what is happening, read his post, say “ick” and thus trust Wilson’s handling of the whole fiasco entirely. As Christians, we must acknowledge that sin, in all of its forms, does not excuse other sin. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted, to mute Natalie and her testimony because you think what Wilson posted is gross. It is a red herring to distract you from his own misdeeds, to get you to focus on something you know you don’t like instead of figuring out the conflicting testimonies between the first hand parties and his own. Don’t be focused on the Turn, don’t fall for the trick.
@stansminion brought to my attention that Jezebel may have updated/modified their article on Doug Wilson on the topic of all students of NSA/Greyfriars boarding in family homes before I reviewed it and Wilson’s Jezehellsbells article. Unfortunately, by the time I was able to review this (It’s the holidays people), Jezebel’s internet cache was already updated with the version of the article I had used. But still, I have no reason to doubt the screen capture that @stansminion has provided.
So it looks like I was wrong about claiming that Wilson lied about the article claiming that all students board at family homes, but I would also like to bring up something about this, and that is that this is a nitpick. I’ll try and make this quick. When Rod Dreher of the American Conservative brought in his critique of Wilson’s Christian Empire, Wilson had this to say:
A few years ago, New St. Andrews was profiled in a piece that was published by The New York Times. Molly Worthen wrote the article, and afterward someone from the Times called us to fact check every detail. The American Conservative does this hit piece, and clicks publish within a few hours of even hearing about the slander. No fact checking, no inquiries to find out if there were more to the story, no reasonable caution at all.
Alright, let’s look at the New York Times article and see what was stated there:
In the student directory, a note on the first page explains the absence of street addresses of the homes where students board (the college opposes dorms on principle). “It seems there are people in the community who make a hobby of causing trouble for local Christian families who extend hospitality to N.S.A. students,” reads the disclaimer.
There is no mention of students living in apartments or rented houses, just living in family homes as NSA “opposes dorms on principle”. So how did this lie, this lie that baffles Wilson as to who conjured it up, make its way into the New York Times which was apparently fact checked for every detail?
Moreover, when USA Today wrote on New Saint Andrews it stated:
New Saint Andrews takes a vehement stance against a residential campus, choosing to have students live with families in the Moscow, Idaho, area. Dorms, the college argues, “breed immaturity, immorality and irresponsibility,” and were originally intended to foster socialism.
I doublechecked Doug Wilson’s blog and couldn’t find anything calling USA Today or the author, Libby Nelson, on lying about this. The conclusion is obvious. Though Wilson was not lying about the claim, it was another red herring meant to distract the reader in the middle. He will nitpick the tiniest minutiae if it will serve his cause but when it comes to mainstream press that serves him he’ll let the same errors pass with no comment. Isn’t this also a kind of lie?