Friday, December 28, 2007

More Than Kissing Cousins.

While I think the world of most of my cousins, I never, ever considered marrying a first or second cousin. I don't think most of us would have considered it and it is now fairly rare in America, though it does happen from time to time. An occasional marriage between first cousins probably isn't that big of a problem, but . . . if it happens generation after generation after generation, then problems can and probably will occur.

Jokes are told about the American Hillbillies and their inbreeding, and it is based on fact, but it is probably due more to isolation than to any other cause, and it seems to be a problem that has largely faded in Appalachia.

However, it is very common in much of the Middle East, and is detrimental to both society and the individuals. While I was quite aware of the genetic problems of repeated, multi-generational Consanguinity, I never considered the societal implications that are also a major problem. If your Mother and Father are cousins and virtually your whole social setting is one big family, then family ties become so important that national ties become difficult.

By fostering intense family loyalties and strong nepotistic urges, inbreeding makes the development of civil society more difficult. Many Americans have heard by now that Iraq is composed of three ethnic groups -- the Kurds of the north, the Sunnis of the center, and the Shi'ites of the south. Clearly, these ethnic rivalries would complicate the task of ruling reforming Iraq. But that's just a top-down summary of Iraq's ethnic make-up. Each of those three ethnic groups is divisible into smaller and smaller tribes, clans, and inbred extended families -- each with their own alliances, rivals, and feuds. And the engine at the bottom of these bedeviling social divisions is the oft-ignored institution of cousin marriage.

The fractiousness and tribalism of Middle Eastern countries have frequently been remarked. In 1931, King Feisal of Iraq described his subjects as "devoid of any patriotic idea, ? connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil; prone to anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatever." The clannishness, corruption, and coups frequently observed in countries such as Iraq appears to be in tied to the high rates of inbreeding.

Muslim countries are usually known for warm, devoted extended family relationships, but also for weak patriotism. In the U.S., where individualism is so strong, many assume that "family values" and civic virtues such as sacrificing for the good of society always go together. But, in Islamic countries, loyalty to extended (as opposed to nuclear) families is often at war with loyalty to nation. Civic virtues, military effectiveness, and economic performance all suffer.
Link (Actually the whole article is worth the read.)

The importance of family in society cannot be underplayed and neglecting the family is disastrous to society at large, but it still must not be allowed to become a "our family" against the world mindset.

Then of course there are the medical problems of marriage between cousins for many generations.

It needs to be noted that this is not an exclusively an Islamic problem as it also exists amongst other religious groups in the Middle-East.

Come to think of it, I once did fall hard for a young woman who had the same last name I do, but we were not close relatives


Blogger Goat said...

Did you know Rudy's first wife is his second cousin? I thought that was going to be the point of this post. I had a couple real hot cousins but that was when I was a kid.

1:04 AM  

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