Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Face of Polygamy

Lisa Schiffren comments on this story of a polygamous African family living in New York:

Whatever the current feelings of the participants, such marriages are not love matches. According to the Times story, the women do not come to them freely, nor is any wife an equal partner with her husband. She has, at most, one-third the status that he does — usually much less — and little or no bargaining power. Given the customs of their culture, even when these women are allowed to work outside the home, they are often forced to turn their earnings over to their husband, leaving them essentially working as slave labor.

And those nine children, at least some of whom are American by birth — what do they learn of being free citizens in a democracy from the values they imbibe in this familial structure? The boys become autocrats; the girls become servants. They will never be free men and women, equal and responsible. It’s a longer argument for another day, but allowing this barbaric import to thrive in the U.S. will undermine all the advances that women have made in the past 150 years with regard to education, financial independence, and political and sexual equality. Polygamy, like slavery itself, cannot co-exist with true democracy.

What Schiffren champions here -- democracy and equality for women -- could be championed by liberals; indeed, they should be so championed, were liberals not morally paralyzed by their own multicultural devotion to the third world. As things stand now, not only do liberals fail to criticize the treatment of women by our African imports, but they attack those who do as being, by some weird paradox, the real sexists.

Schiffren continues:

It’s time for the Magassas to be sent home, and for an example to be made so we can avoid the situation the French find themselves in. France has so many people living in polygamous families — somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 — that politicians are powerless to rein in the practice, since the polygamists can vote and riot, and they have the critical mass in their own neighborhoods to elect their own representatives. Nor do they assimilate. If we allow the same thing to occur here, the next thing you know, parts of the United States will live under sharia law. Failure to prosecute is an invitation to just that.

Well said. And how tragic that it must fall to conservatives to uphold the best of liberalism.

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