With no more important problems to address in the world, the European Community and even some Americans have attempted to focus public attention on what some claim to believe is the biggest human rights abuse on the planet right now: Jews circumcising their eight day old sons.
Many will recall a venomous campaign against brit milah attacking the ritual as, among other things, unhealthy, complete with cartoons showing leering, fang-toothed rabbis wielding blood-drenched knives, which circulated for a while in San Francisco — the city universally regarded as the world capital of healthy sexual practices.
A new study published by the highly respected Mayo Clinic, however, just may add enough actual facts to the discussion so that a rational result can be attained.
In the Mayo study, Dr. Brian J. Morris explains that “over their lifetime half of uncircumcised males will contract an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin.” As a result, Morris concludes, the health benefits of infant male circumcision outweigh the risks by a factor of at least 100 to 1.
Dr. Morris and his co-authors argue that the health benefits of milah – not only for the male who undergoes it but also for any future sexual partners — are so great that doctors should be required to offer the procedure to parents. Morris explains: “circumcision might be seen in the same light as other interventions that parents must choose for their child. It is the duty of states to create conditions necessary for the fulfillment of rights to good health by facilitating the availability of interventions that are beneficial. Logically it can be argued that should include male circumcision.”
The study also disproves the suggestion that benefits from circumcision can be obtained if it is delayed until the male is old enough to decide for himself whether to undergo it. Dr. Morris demonstrates not only that there are effectively no detriments to the procedure, but also that its performance in infancy dramatically reduces the risk of urinary tract infections during childhood which may lead to kidney damage. In addition, in a conclusion which will no doubt calm some of those who characterize the Jews’ ancient practice as child abuse, the study also concludes that there is “no adverse effect of circumcision on sexual function, sensitivity, or pleasure.”
All of Morris’s evidence should make a big difference to those who oppose infant male circumcision by analogizing it to female genital mutilation, claiming for themselves the mantle of “intactivists.” We are not aware of anyone —anyone sane, anyway — who even claims that that barbaric practice has any positive medical effects, for the woman victim or anyone else.
The Mayo study concludes with what can only be described as a tongue-in-cheek recognition of the Jew-hatred that really animates the movement against infant male circumcision, but which often tries to hide its face. Morris sums up as follows:
Many nations that condemn childhood male circumcision are not as quick to condemn other comparably invasive and dangerous procedures that have no medical benefit, eg, cosmetic orthodontia, correction of harelip, surgery for tongue-tie, growth hormone injections for treatment of dwarfism, and removal of supernumerary digits. Thus . . . it seems odd that neonatal male circumcision is regarded by some as controversial.
Odd indeed — my goodness, whatever could be motivating such people?
Dr. Morris’s conclusion brings to mind the exchange in doggeral between William Norman Ever, a now-happily unknown British journalist, and Ogden Nash: “How odd of God to choose the Jews,” Ever opined; but “it wasn’t odd,” Nash answered, for “the Jews chose God.”