A group in San Francisco are pushing for a ban on circumcisions. The latest weapon in their “intactivist” arsenal is a comic book character named Foreskin Man. He’s a blond beefcake who stands for the preservation of male genitalia.
He’s ripped but he’s not cut. OK, so there’s there that.
But the real trouble starts when Foreskin Man is pitted against an evil rabbi named Monster Mohel. The rabbi is a gruesome horrible monster from whom innocent (presumably Jewish) babies must be saved.
Not surprisingly, it’s being called anti-Semitic.
Over at The Week there’s a great breakdown of the opposing opinions. One side says this is blatantly anti-Semitic: According to J.E. Dyer at Hot Air, the case against circumcision can be made “without depicting a scary rabbi named Monster Mohel slavering over a naked infant.” The battle between an Aryan-looking anti-circumcision superhero against “a scary rabbi named Monster Mohel” makes explicit that these particular intactivists think, “the Judaic religious view of circumcision as evil and repulsive.”
On the other hand, “An activist has every right to criticize religious leaders when he thinks they are violating someone’s human rights, says Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy. That’s true about Jewish views on circumcision, Wahhabi Muslim attitudes toward women, and the opinions of some Christian groups about homosexuality. Critics should be careful about how they frame their accusations, but others should likewise respect ‘legitimate hostility to teachings and actions that are plausibly seen as causing secular harm.'”
My two cents: I’ve actually heard some of the most thoughtful, nuanced discussions about whether to circumcise from within the Jewish community. Authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman have written eloquently on the topic. I know Jews who have not circumcised their sons and those who have. This is not always an easy decision. As one Jewish dad I spoke with said, “It’s not some little side-custom, it’s like, how there started to be Jews.” It’s been very meaningful to me to be a part of these conversations as I am British by birth, and it’s not customary to circumcise in my family/culture, but my husband is Jewish and American. I found conversations about circumcision with my husband and among my extended family to be intellectual, spiritual, scientific– these talks helped us form a good template for making hard parenting decisions in the future, and there will be many.
The creators of Foreskin Man do the opposite. They have closed down all of that possibility for tolerance and education. These are clearly not the people to be raising our consciousness about this issue. Also, on a purely practical note, isn’t this comic alienating one key demographic it hopes to sway? They are trying to save Jewish babies from being circumcised, but they’re anti-Semites? As a Jewish friend of mine, who found this comic completely anti-Semitic, commented, “It’s like if a bunch of Klansman got together to seriously tackle the problem of childhood obesity in the black community.”
No one is making you circumcise in the hospital these days. The American Academy of Pediatricians is neutral on the issue and recent reports suggest the number of baby boys being circumcised in America is going down. It seems that this kind of virulence isn’t necessary. We’re in such a good place to expand our idea of what’s normal. Let’s stay on that track?
Photo: Facebook/Foreskin Man