I've been spending the morning reading some of the news and opinion on the murder of Benazir Bhutto. And now I have to run out the door, without time to say more to announce our weekly Thursday Covenant Zone meeting, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, in front of Blenz Coffee. Look for the guys in the blue scarves if you want to join us and discuss how Canada and the West can protect its covenants and freedoms from the threat of Jihadist violence. And how can we grow our covenants to bring more of humanity into the modern world? I am reminded, as I review some of Stanley Kurtz's essays on Pakistan, how much this is a problem not simply of Islam but of Islam as it buttresses a particular form of kinship and tribal society:
What D’Souza can’t see is that, far more than America’s secular Left, it is the distinctive nature of Islam itself, and of Middle Eastern social life generally, that forces this all-or-nothing choice. A non-creedal religion whose jurisdiction extends to vast areas of social life; a communal religious identity that punishes disloyalty with death; and a marriage system that generates (and harshly polices) a pervasive ethos of in-group solidarity: these are the real sources of the all-or-nothing choice between Muslim tradition and modernity. This is why the current alternatives in the Muslim world sometimes seem to be boiling down to an untenable choice between Iranian theocracy, on the one hand, and Turkish secularism, on the other.
If we want to change any of this, it will be impossible to restrict ourselves to the study of religious Islam. The “self-sealing” character of Islam is part and parcel of a broader and more deeply rooted social pattern. And parallel-cousin marriage is more than just an interesting but minor illustration of that broader theme. If there’s a “self-sealing” tendency in Muslim social life, cousin marriage is the velcro. In contemporary Europe, perhaps even more than in the Middle East, cousin marriage is at the core of a complex of factors blocking assimilation and driving the war on terror.