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Blood Should Not Marry Blood

khin's picture

Crossposted on ZBlogs

It's pretty hard nowadays to find mainstream arguments in favor of anti-miscegenation laws and against interracial couples like the ones mentioned in this article. But you can always go to white supremacist sites. Check out Stormfront for example.

These people aren't very eloquent, so for greater literacy I turn to Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.

Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

And you know what? He's absolutely right--blood should not marry blood. Interracial marriage is totally disgraceful. The truth is that the article above about interracial couples is shocking and scandalous. It is wrong on so many levels.

I simply cannot imagine how the family of anyone who married interracially, like the couple below, can take it.

Good grief. It is wrong in the eyes of God. Plus, it could seriously damage the dynamics of the family of the person engaging in it. Miscegenation is definitely weird and disturbing stuff.

People who favor racial mixing are bigots. In fact, they are just trolling, because few really care about the issue enough to write about it.

If they do care about it, it means they're guilty of hate. They're trivializing more important issues by taking up our time with this. What shenanigans! Get out your broomsticks. It's just right wing bullshit.

That this isn't obvious to others is disturbing. Some shit is just nasty. And it's prohibited under Canon Law, Mosaic Law and Roman Law.


By this point you are probably itching to beat me with a brick. But in fact, every one of these inflammatory, vile and scurrilous comments were stated very recently on large and mainstream message boards and were pretty much not called out. The caveat? They weren't about interracial marriage and anti-miscegenation laws, but rather about another issue that is nevertheless mostly equivalent morally: cousin marriage.

For those for whom this issue is completely alien, read Wikipedia:

Cousin marriage is a legally or socially recognized marriage between two cousins, or persons sharing a common ancestor.

In some jurisdictions and cultures, such marriages are legal and actively encouraged, while in others they are regarded as incest and prohibited. Still other cultures merely tolerate marriages between first cousins, but at the same time these unions are not encouraged.

Any random two people have a common ancestor and are cousins to some degree, but most people don't know their common ancestor. Usually, unless otherwise qualified, "cousin" means first cousin, someone with whom one shares one pair of grandparents.


The text before the picture above was compiled from, reputedly a "user-driven social media web site that serves to help users submit or find content by peers based on interest and location." It was founded by Chris McGill, a former head of strategy at USA Today.

The text after the picture was compiled from none other than our friend Daily Kos when I posted a diary there advocating legalizing cousin marriage. Because my diary made some comparisons to same-sex marriage, I was accused of deliberately trolling and trying to trivialize gay marriage by comparing it with the odious cousin marriage topic. The tip jar got hide rated.

My comparisons in that post between cousin marriage and gay marriage might easily have been seen as fine, though--provided they had gone the right way. After all, I could have framed them like this article does in a California student newspaper. It's written by a girl about the romance between her two cousins:

Sometimes it makes my stomach curdle thinking about the romance they have, which is neither natural nor socially acceptable

The goal of the article is to show that same-sex marriage should be legalized by comparing it with cousin marriage.

If California can go so far as to say that first cousins can marry, then same sex marriages should soon have equality too.

But just in case anyone should doubt her humane intentions toward her cousin,

my family is not going to disown her — even though they may plot against their relationship.

So we're not going to disown you, just try to interfere in your personal life. How tolerant!

In retrospect, I don't think the analogy between gay marriage and cousin marriage is particularly close. Sexual orientation is partly innate, whereas no one is innately predisposed to marry a cousin. So instead of gay marriage, a better analogy is to anti-miscegenation laws. No one is predisposed to marry someone from another race.

The big issue that motivates the ban on cousin marriage in the popular mind is genetics. However, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the average risk of a serious birth defect for first cousins is only 1.7-2.8% higher than the base risk of 3-4%. This risk is comparable to the average risk of a mother who gives birth at age 41. Hence, it's hard to see why a couple's consanguinity should be an important legal distinction. One might also compare that risk to, say, the far higher one for mothers who drink heavily throughout their pregnancy: 45% of them give birth to a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome.

One can argue that the cousin marriage issue is relatively insignificant. But if we measure importance strictly by the numbers of people affected, this isn't true: the proportion of all interracial marriages was 0.4% in 1960, the date of the last census before Loving v. Virginia struck down the laws. The most universally targetted form, black-white unions, represented 0.13%. By comparison, what little data we have on cousin marriage suggests a rate of 0.2% for both first- and second-cousin marriages. So the figures are well within an order of magnitude, even though the first-cousin marriage rate is the smaller one. And the US rate is quite tiny by global standards.

It's true that measuring importance by numbers alone probably isn't very smart. Anti-miscegenation laws were usually criminal in nature and were often enforced, apparently unlike criminal cousin marriage laws. The latter do not seem to have reached the appellate court level in any of the nine states where they exist. (There may well have been district-level cases or cases that never went to court at all, though.) But still, the logic cited by the Supreme Court in deciding Loving v. Virginia ruled out mere prohibitions as well as criminal penalties, so it's hard to see why this is fundamental. Anti-miscegenation laws today would hardly be less repugnant for lack of criminality.

To conclude, let's look at some pictures of these deviant, disgraceful, decadent cousin couples.

They're clearly evil.

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