Cliff May

What's your opinion of polygamy? Many consider the practice immoral and it's illegal in this country and most of the developed world. It's probably not just coincidence that few, if any, polygamous countries are liberal democratic societies in which women enjoy equal rights. Anthropologists have noted that in a polygamous society many men end up as "bare branches"-sexually frustrated and prone to enlist in violent enterprises, especially those that bring status and glory; a jihad, for example.

But the sports section of The New York Times, in a recent profile of a member of the Jordanian royal family, gave the impression that polygamy is just another lifestyle choice. The article observes that 36-year-old Princess Haya bint al-Hussein has "long challenged what it means to be a princess" by pursuing a career as "an equestrian athlete" who drives "her horses across Europe in a custom tractor-trailer." And, oh yes, by the way, she happens to be the "worldly junior wife of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, 61, making appearances in jeans, her long hair flowing..." So it's probably for the best that, as the Times delicately adds, the Sheik's "senior wife leads a more private life."

What do you think about the niqab - sometimes also called a burqa - the veil that leaves only the eyes of a woman uncovered? Critics, not least Muslim critics such as Fadéla Amara, France's Secretary of State for Urban Policy, suggest that when a woman is forced to wear one it not only deprives her of individuality - it is, effectively, a portable prison. France recently moved to ban the niqab, as have several other European countries.

Nevertheless, a recent New York Times review of a Yemeni restaurant in Brooklyn noted in passing that the diners are apparently segregated by sex and that, next door, is "Paradise Boutique, where mannequins model chic niqabs ..."

And what do you think about the plans to build Park51, A.K.A. Cordoba House, on the edge of the crater where the World Trade Center once stood? Polls find that a majority of Americans, while acknowledging that the organizers have a right to build whatever they choose, think it inappropriate to construct an elaborate Islamic center so near the site of an atrocity carried out in the name of Islam


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.