Thursday, June 28, 2012

No, opposing infant circumcision ≠ Medieval anti-Semitism

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Brendan O’Neill
Brendan O’Neill

Oh, look, it’s another goober arguing that preventing parents from lopping off parts of their babies’ genitals is an affront to their religious freedom. This time, it’s Brendan O’Neill at The Telegraph, last seen comparing skeptics who criticize “psychic” frauds to Medieval-era witch hunters, now declaring that a German court’s recent decision to ban religious circumcision as “child abuse” is somehow reminiscent of the “ugly anti-Semitism of medieval Europe”:

Many secularist campaigners are cock-a-hoop about the ruling. They believe their description of circumcision as “child abuse”, as a cruel operation that ignores the UN-guaranteed “rights of the child”, is radical and caring. But in truth it echoes centuries’ worth of nasty anti-circumcision posturing by people who hate certain religious faiths. In Medieval Europe, as pointed out in the book The Covenant of Circumcision, Jew-baiters often depicted circumcision as “cruel and grotesque”. The “barbarous and cruel Jews” were slated for callously snipping off their own boys’ foreskins and for secretly desiring to do the same to Christian boys, too. These “merciless” creatures were described by one English writer as “foreskinne-clippers”. The modern atheist’s description of circumcision as “child abuse”, though used to attack both Jewish and Muslim communities, is only an updated, more PC version of the old anti-Semites' description of it as “cruel and grotesque”.

You know, for all the cries of “religious freedom!” and “intolerance!” that arise at the mere mention of limiting what kinds of permanent physical damage parents should be allowed to perform upon their children, this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone go the extra mile and try to equate the notion of children having the right to intact bodies with Jewish persecution in the Dark Ages. Because the two are just so alike, really; arguing that your religious beliefs don’t entitle you to put a knife to little kids’ penises, versus centuries of smearing, degrading and violently oppressing millions of people on the sole basis that they derive their religious beliefs from a different book (or from a different section of the same book) than you do. I mean, who can tell them apart?

Oh, wait, I know who can: Every single humane person on the goddamned planet. It’s such a shame that O’Neill apparently doesn’t belong in that group. Then again, the fact that he ends his absurd screed with another outrageous comparison – this time to the FBI’s famous clusterfuck in Waco, Texas – really makes it more of a relief that he’s so keen to distance himself from the rest of us. Honestly, I’m only surprised it apparently didn’t occur to him to slip in some sort of witty remark about the history of Jewish persecution in Germany.

I’d close this post in the same manner as with my last one about him, but I try not to repeat myself.

(via @RichardDawkins)