A recent Washington Post article tries very hard to put airs on what would be nothing more than a Jewish child circumcision rite.
The only factor that would mark this one ritual different than any other one that happens is the fact that it happened after a major snow storm.
The storm would have made life difficult for thousands of other people, but somehow this story stood above the rest, making the ordeal worthy of an article on the Washington Post.
The author attempts to frame the whole situation, flights being cancelled, snow being an obstacle for the arrival of the ritual circumciser etc. as some sort of "powerful story" of "struggle" and "the triumph of the human spirit."
To some, this may be the case, but to those of us not conditioned to accept forced male infant genital mutilation as "normal," it's quite the opposite.
Perhaps it is a "triumph" in the eyes of those with a need to fulfill what they see as divine commandment to mutilate the genitals of an otherwise healthy, non-consenting child, but from the point of view of the child, who is weak, innocent and vulnerable, it can be nothing more than abandonment and loss.
The author appears to want to elicit a standing ovation and applause, and many will comply without thinking twice.
But how would readers react if, instead of male infant circumcision, the tale were bout female infant circumcision?
What if this story were, instead, about a couple, who, after a long trial of "strength and endurance," a sandstorm that posed as an obstacle for instance, were "finally" able to have their daughter circumcised?
Would it matter to readers that their family saw circumcising a baby daughter as this "long-standing tradition?"
Would it matter that they saw this as a matter of religious sacrament?
Would it matter that it was a "struggle" for relatives and the ritual circumciser to arrive "in the nick of time?"
Surely arguments that male infant circumcision dwarfs in comparison would quell disgust.
A freshly severed child's foreskin.
An infant's clitoris, barely visible, on a pair of scissors.
Surely it would be of comfort that the procedure was performed by a trained professional using sterile utensils under pristine conditions.
Surely adult women saying they are circumcised and they are "just fine" ought to justify it.
Somehow, I doubt that arguments of "tradition," "religion" and "parental prerogative" would be enough to silence the ensuing shitstorm.
The snowstorm in the Washington Post story is a diversion; merely the tip of the iceberg.
The child endured unnecessary pain, and a needless risk for herpes, infection, partial or full ablation, hemorrhage and even death.
Forget all these other challenges the child was put through, everyone let's pay attention to that nasty snowstorm.
The efforts the author goes through to beautify what is happening, the fact that there has to be an article trying to paint this story as a "success" after "a long struggle" speaks to how the author really feels about the situation.
This could have been a story about someone finally getting a much needed heart.
A doctor making it in time to perform an emergency c-section that saved both mother and child.
An actual emergency in which there were real stakes.
Where a child's life was put at stake?
Part of the most intimate part of his body permanently destroyed?
His sexual experience changed forever?
Sorry, but it's a terrible attempt at beautifying a sick, disgusting tradition.
The author in the Washington Post article strives to make this a beautiful story about parents who "struggle" but "finally made it," but strip away the "tradition," "endurance" and religious mumbo-jumbo, take away the blizzard and you're left with nothing more than ritual child abuse and genital mutilation.
It is nothing but sick, disgusting, self-serving opportunism on the part of this Washington Post author, and it's deplorable.
Some may yet defend ritual genital mutilation as "tradition," and I find this ironic.
For one, the fact that "religious tradition" cannot justify female infant circumcision demonstrates that it fails as an argument.
And secondly, the fact that the child's mother is a rabbi, and she doesn't have to undergo some sort of genital cutting ritual, not to mention the fact that the ritual mutilation was performed by a female mohel, exposes the hypocrisy in invoking "tradition" as an alibi; this goes to show you that traditions can and do change.
Ritual male infant circumcision is one of those traditions whose time has come.
The time has come to condemn this tradition in male children, as in female children, for what it is; ritualized child abuse and forced genital mutilation.
Beyond the Bris: News and Views on Jewish Circumcision
Stories That Didn't End So Triumphantly: