Canadian leftist lays out strategy for institutionalizing polygamy

Ken Hechtman, my leftist correspondent in Canada who likes VFR for some reason (here’s a wikipedia article on him), seems to want Canada to legalize polygamy. Be sure to see Tom S.’s reply to him below. Mr. Hechtman writes:

Ever since we passed gay marriage, I’ve been following the polygamy story. In just two years, I’ve seen the discussion move from the college press to the indy press to the mainstream press.

We’re going to win this one and it’s going to happen in two or three years. We didn’t get to be first to legalize gay marriage (we were the fourth country to do so) but I’m guessing we will be the first Western country to legalize polygamy.

If it was up to me, here’s how I’d set up the test case: We pick the Ontario Family Courts as the venue. The fathers’ rights guys call them the “Feminist Occupation Government” and with good reason. Even with the federal Status of Women report on our side, the strongest opposition could still come from the feminist movement. We need them to own this decision from day one.

We pick a very poor Muslim immigrant family as the poster children. These idiot baby-raping Jack-Mormons out in the Rockies can’t be allowed to be the public face of this thing. We need a respectable Muslim family where the second wife was legally married in her home country and “divorced” under Sharia law here. She then petitions for alimony, child custody and a share of the minuscule family property.

There’s no way in the world these feminist judges will send a woman like that away empty-handed. If there’s nothing in Canadian law that allows them to recognize her marriage and subsequent divorce—they’ll invent it.

Tom S. writes:

Why on Earth would Mr. Hechtman regard the legalization of polygamy as a victory for “our” side (i.e., the Left)? Does he really believe that the slow-motion institution of sharia in the West is actually going to be good for Leftists, or their cause? I thought that Leftists were against “patriarchy”? Or is his position that anything that hurts the West is good for the Left? If the latter, he is dreaming a dream from which he will awaken when the Religious Police come for him. If he thinks religious fundamentalism is a problem today, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

Seriously, Leftists and Rightists ought to be together on this issue, if no other. The dispute between Left and Right has historically been over the destiny of Western Civilization, and that becomes immaterial when that civilization no longer exists. I despise Christopher Hitchens, unreconstructed Communist that he is, but he at least is serious enough in his politics to understand that simple fact. One would think that Mr. Hechtman would, as well. Or does being a “Leftist” now mean nothing more than hatred of the West?

Gintas writes:

Hechtman thinks polygamy is a victory, because he has a death wish for his civilization. Any other will do, thank you very much.

LA replies:

While we’re waiting for him to reply, here is my speculation as to what his reasoning is, based on previous conversations with him. Mr. Hechtman’s basic view, which has been discussed at VFR before, is that as a result of the demise of the USSR, it’s no longer possible to believe in the “big truth” of Communism. But at the same time he doesn’t want to come under the power of any other big truth, such as conservatism or Christianity, because such a big truth by claiming all authority for itself would impede his freedom. Having lost the big truth of Communism, he doesn’t look for another big truth. He instead distrusts all big truths. Thus his post-Communist disenchantment comes down to standard left-liberalism, which aims at keeping any belief system from dominating society, except for the belief that there is no truth. Right-liberalism or neoconservatism believes there is a big truth, the universal truth of equal individual rights. Post-Communist left-liberalism says there is no big truth and we have to be equally open to all truths.

Now for Canada to exclude polygamy would involve the assertion of an authoritative truth over Canada, namely that Canadian society is based on monogamy, not polygamy. And behind monogamy rests the more threatening specter of Christianity. As a liberal who opposes any authoritative truth, Mr. Hechtman must oppose the rule of monogamy. He doesn’t support the legalization of polygamy because he likes polygamy, he supports it because he must prevent the anti-polygamy forces from dominating.

Now we have a good guess as to why Hechtman supports polygamy. But that still leaves unanswered Tom S.’s question: why does Hechtman not fear polygamy? Surely he knows that Islam is a threat to everything in the West. And the answer is that he doesn’t fear it, because, as a left-liberal, he is not worried about the requirements for the continued existence of his society and its basic freedoms. Liberals never care about preserving the society, they assume its continued existence, the way a child automatically assumes that his parents will take care of him and he doesn’t have to think about that. So it does not really occur to Hechtman that polygamy represents the growth of a radically anti-freedom ideology which is commanded by God to take power and destroy Canada as he knows it. He believes that all those problems will work out somehow. He has any number of rationalizations as to why we don’t need to worry about Islam and its power. Much of the mental life of left-liberals is absorbed in finding ever new ways to convince themselves that a manifest threat to society is not a threat after all.

As was said in the previous thread, liberals must NEVER allow themselves to feel that their society is threatened, because if they did, they would have to defend it, and once they became the defenders of their own society they would lose their position of being superior ot it. Their feeling of being superior to their society, to all societies, is more central them than existence itself.

Gintas writes:

A common motif I see (not that I’ve come up with this, just really understanding it) is that liberals and leftists want to be free of all constraints. Any constraint is a problem. This seems to derive from nihilism, once God is overthrown, the field is free for man to will reality as he likes. (Mark Richardson at Oz Conservative explores this angle at length.)

Since Hechtman grew up in the West, he chafes at all the constraints of the West, and sees any “other” as somehow liberating. Yes, they are liberating from the West, but not absolutely liberating. He cannot see alien systems as being constraining, nor does he even care—his complaint is with his home constraints. But that shows the shallowness of his desire for freedom. He just wants to be free of his parents, so to speak, and straight away rushes into an authoritarian sect or cult.

Miss Jessel writes:

Legalizing polygamy would be the death of the West and not just because it’s a direct assault on a 3,000 year-old cultural norm. Imagine a Western country where a Muslim “immigrant” could legally import four brides from the “old country” instead of just one (or more than four, once you factor in the easy divorces that are available to Muslims under sharia). Then, with family reunification laws, each of those brides’ parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, siblings etc. Just one Muslim immigrant man could result in bringing in hundreds, perhaps thousands of Muslims. Canada would be swamped in no time—already Europe is swamped, and that’s just with family reunification involving ONE imported bride. Child marriage would also become common—the pro-polygamy people would say, no, the law would stop child marriages, but after Muslims become politically strong enough to vote in large blocks, we know that they would legalize marriage with nine-year-olds per the requirements of their sharia.

It would not only be the death of Canada, but also the death of the U.S. when Bush’s North American Union plans come to fruition.

This Mr. Hechtman is simply breathtaking in his fanaticism for destroying the West. His glee at the prospect of ending his civilization in “two or three years” is frightening.

Miss Jessel continues:

Hechtman also displays his ignorance of sharia here. No “second wife” getting a divorce under Muslim law would be able to “petition” for alimony because the rules of sharia forbid it. Under sharia a divorced wife automatically gets one month of alimony (if she brings the divorce case) or three months alimony (if she is the “innocent” partner). That’s it. If she’s the wronged party, she also gets to keep her “mahr” or dowry which in many Muslim countries can be as little as a few dollars. If she is the one bringing the divorce suit, she doesn’t even get the dowry. Sharia doesn’t allow for joint marital property, probably because of the difficulties involved in dividing it due to polygamy. As for child custody going to the wife, assumed by Hechtman, forget that too. Under sharia, women get custody of children until age seven and then she must give them up. Custody belongs to the man. If the woman remarries she must forfeit even the limited few years of custody she gets and if she converts to another religion her children are also taken away from her.

These leftists always assume that our secular laws are going to stay the same way despite importing millions of people who don’t believe in secular laws. But the kind-to-women divorce laws customary in the West would be eliminated under sharia.

Ken Hechtman writes:

Nice to know I’ll never need to explain myself since so many people already know what I think …

You got it partly right. In general, I don’t much like one-size-fits-all authoritative truths. So I have no more use for a law that says “everyone must be monogamous” than I do for a law that says “everyone must be heterosexual.” The truth is we already have more different kinds of families than you’ll find in a Norman Rockwell album. The laws should reflect that.

But that kind of abstract ideology is rarely my main motivation and never my only one.

You also presume too quickly that polygamy equals Islam, and only Islam. If you read through the Maclean’s article, it surveys all the different groups in Canada who practice polygamy. There are the swingers (do a search on the buzzwords “polyamory” and “polyfamilies” to see what they’re all about). There are the Jack-Mormons. The TV series “Big Love” is about a Jack-Mormon family in suburban Salt Lake City. There are even Christians who aren’t Mormons and don’t live in the woods. They have a literal reading of the Old Testament that says polygamy is divinely ordained. This is something that only really started in the last ten years and since I don’t move in those circles I know less about them than any of the others. From what I can see, they seem to be growing fast. The buzzwords to search on here are “sisterwives” and “Christian Polygamy/Christian Polygyny.”

In my notional test case, I picked a specifically Muslim family for tactical reasons. It’s a smaller step to recognize another country’s legal marriages than to move immediately to performing our own. When it’s time to write our own legislation, I want the lifestyle-left to dominate the process and get input from the Muslims. Not the other way around.

Since I don’t live in a polymarriage myself and don’t plan to, I can’t say that I “like” polygamy. But I’ve always known people who did live that way. Most of them have been from the lifestyle-left or the swing scene. One group who wasn’t was my grandparents’ three best friends from back in Warsaw. They lived in what the swingers would call an “MMF triad,” starting in Poland in the 1930s and lasting 60 years until they died over here. Officially, two of them were legally married and the second man was introduced as their “tenant.” Only their closest friends knew different. Otherwise, they were such proper and respectable Polish Jews that in 30 years I never learned their first names. I never heard anyone call them anything but Mr. and Mrs. Rzmeniak and Mr. Wolowczyk.

These were people whose personal choices never harmed anybody that I could see and yet for 60 years they couldn’t tell the truth about the single most important fact in their lives. Mrs. Rzmeniak died first, leaving the two men living together. All the same legal issues that affect old couples came up—pensions, next-of-kin status at the hospital, etc.—and they had no legal standing to claim any of it. As it happened, the hospital chose not to give them a hard time about next-of-kin. But it could have and they wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.

LA replies:

All this adds up to is, “People like lots of different things, we should let people do what they want.” There’s no serious thought process here, just an emotional attitude of casual live-and-let liberalism believing that it can allow and legitimate every kind of behavior and that the society will survive.
Ken Hechtman replies:

I won’t disagree with you here. I need a very good reason—and generally that means real people getting hurt directly and in the immediate term—to respond with anything other than live-and-let-live and there’s-more-than-one-way-to-do-it. That IS my default answer and it IS more of an attitude than a rigorous philosophical position.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 21, 2007 05:30 PM | Send

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