Commentary | Conservatives across America are up in arms over yesterday’s 12th Annual National Polygamy Day. The little known event, held every August 19 since 2001, attracted hardly any attention yet inspired outrage among America’s self-appointed moral guardians.
Polygamy Day is described by its promoters as follows:
“On August 19, 2012, consenting adult pro-polygamists throughout America are celebrating Polygamy Day 12. The annual celebration grew into a widespread and religiously-neutral individual celebration around the country among all forms of consenting-adult pro-polygamists.”
Despite the fact the Polygamy Day had virtually no press coverage and it represents a tiny fringe group made up of anti-government types and aging 1960s hippies, this has not stopped the major conservative news websites such as WorldNetDaily (WND) and other right wing bloggers from blasting out ‘Breaking News” alerts on Monday to warn Americans about the evils of polygamy.
WND lead the charge, with their 4500 word tirade against polygamy, complete with graphs and photographs, and followed by a 20 choice questionnaire. Scattered throughout the long article were the photos of smiling Imams, scans of advertisements from Muslim websites, and constant references to Islam and Muslims.
While the organization behind Polygamy Day goes out of its way to stress that it is non-denominational and even makes mention of the fact that they have no ties with any religious organizations, WorldNetDaily and their followers have taken a basically unknown event and used it to launch a harsh assault on one of their favorite targets: Islam.
After briefly touching on the Warren Jeff’s case and his outcast Fundamentalist Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, WND devotes the bulk of the article to taking Muslims to task for polygamy. Here is an example of the sort of stuff you will find in WND’s feature entitled “Love, American style: Polygamy gets sizzle”:
“Under Shariah law, a Muslim man may marry multiple wives, but he must provide for them equally. The prophet Muhammad is said to have had dozens of wives.”
“Since polygamy is against the law in the U.S., NPR explains how Muslims still manage to have multiple spouses. “Here’s how a man gets around the laws: He marries one woman under civil law, and then marries one, two or three others in religious ceremonies that are not recognized by the state. In other cases, men marry women in both America and abroad. Many women keep quiet for fear of retribution or deportation.”
“Because the religion only allows men to have sex in a marital relationship, marrying multiple wives can be a way to legitimize sex with several partners. In some cases,men seek wives for temporary marriages called Mut’ah marriages or “pleasure marriages,” that can last for years – or merely hours.”
“What is the problem? If he is not happy with the first marriage, why he stay all the life like this?” asked Mona, a Palestinian woman with six children who divorced and remarried into a polygamous relationship in Patterson, N.J. You know, my religion is good because it gives man and woman another chance to be happy.”
The article goes on to tell us that 50,000 to 100,000 American Muslims live in “polygamous families.” We are even shown ads from Muslim dating websites in which married Muslim men are looking for a second wife. Out of 300 million Americans, we are are not exactly being overrun by Muslim polygamists, but you wouldn’t know it from WND’s exposé.
There are plenty of reasons to condemn polygamy as unworkable, destabilizing, bad for the economy, and even as a cause of welfare fraud. Once again, we see where the fringes of the American Right are headed with their constant assault on Islam.
We are not so naive that we are blind to the differences between a Democracy and Islam. There are certainly disagreements over the treatment of non-Muslims, women, gays, and the separation of church and state. Sharia certainly has no place in America. Immigrants of any nation or religion must eventually assimilate to fully participate in American society. These are issues that need to be addressed, but bitter hatred, and demonization, is not the answer.
While many may disagree about the role of religion in American society, using a fringe group’s slightly amusing event to attack Muslims is beneath the dignity of the Conservative cause. The country is broken and bankrupt. Americans are about to have their health care taken over by a law that 65 percent of the population opposes. We have a sitting President who has been accused by opponents of showing open disdain for the Constitution. Poverty is at an all time high, and real unemployment is probably closer to 15 percent than 8.5 percent. Certainly we have more important things to discuss less than 90 days before the most important presidential election in American history than polygamy.