I don’t know what the percentage is, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but, uh, there’s hardly a kid who comes to a yeshiva, to a program, that hasn’t been molested.(Manis Friedman as transcribed from his tape recorded broadcast)
Incredibly, he does not follow-up that observation with a cry of outrage, a demand for change, or even a gentle advisory about how something has to give. He has just declared that the frum world is Sodom and he moves into telling victims to adjust to this reality instead of whining about their psychological pain.
I am going to speculate about his motives. Most orthodox spokespeople deny or minimized the extent of child abuse. At most, they admit it happens but it is no worse than in the secular world.
Friedman is smart enough to know that things are bad, real bad. He also realizes that the cat is out of the bag and more and more victims are speaking up and going to the police. As this trend intensifies orthodox institutions will be hit with bad publicity and expensive lawsuits.
Manis Friedman is trying to get ahead of the curve by saying, “Yeah, but…” Yeah, even if they were molested we should not allow the victims to bid for our sympathy and ask us to support them in seeking justice through the courts. Instead he is doubling down on the old Haredi strategy of minimizing the significance of abuse, using new-age pseudo-psychology. In effect he is saying, with the miracle of religious thinking, you can manage trauma by minimizing its significance and shifting attention back to guilt about inadequate religious observance.
This approach has the added bonus of separating victims from their potential supporters by using a religious litmus test. Victims who are not observant enough can now be ignored. Victims inside the community can be guilt-tripped. Most of the more vocal victims have left the community and are no longer inhibited by communal pressures. Still, some of these victims have important supporters within the community who believe that molesting is what drove the victim away. Manis Friedman seems determined to eliminate that rationale.
Manis, your reasoning and agendas are revolting, but thank you for conceding the pervasiveness of molesting.
Hat Tip to my anonymous transcriber