In a policy shift that smacks of appeasement, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that American doctors should be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick on girls from Muslim culture in order to keep their families from imposing full "circumcision" clitorectomies.
The academy's committee on bioethics justified this stance by noting federal law "makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals" of a girl in the United States, thereby driving some families to take their daughters overseas to undergo mutilation. Presumably the ritual "nick" is a compromise to avoid greater harm.
Whatever the intention, however, this policy shift vouchsafes legitimacy to a practice that should not be permitted. How much bloodletting will satisfy parents? And at what point do compromises end?
If Muslim countries allow wife-beating and slavery, do we allow a little of these practices in the United States in order to avoid more extreme examples? Perhaps a punch or two would be acceptable?
The counter-argument states that to declare clitorectomies wrong, unacceptable, and barbaric indicates "insensitivity" to another culture. But there are humane considerations that transcend cultural practice, and that should be honored everywhere.
Currently 130 million females worldwide have undergone genital mutilation, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It is mostly performed on girls under the age of 15. Very often this procedure results in severe complications with pregnancy as well as sexual dysfunction.
Where are the feminists? If there were ever an issue that brings them to the barricades, this should be it. Moreover, a compromise that legitimates even the recognition of this monstrous practice should be seen for what it is: the thin edge of the wedge that will allow for other barbaric acts.
On a larger front, this decision by pediatricians reveals a sentiment widespread in Europe and now gaining traction in the United States: a desire to avoid conflict through preemptive compromises.
As intimidation often occurs backstage, Western nations prefer conciliation to violence even if it means undermining the fabric of society. This explains why British and Danish representatives have discussed officially acknowledging Shariah in legal matters.
Of course, reconciliation is not possible: Shariah is not capable of accommodating common law and constitutional principles. For Muslims, it is all or nothing; and, since they recognize the vulnerability of Western institutions, it is more "all" than "nothing."
That an intelligent group of doctors does not recognize the implications of their action is truly puzzling. But then again, so many are blinded by fear, and hope a "modest" compromise will satisfy demanding voices.
Rarely, of course, does reciprocity enter the equation: although what is good for the goose should be good for the gander, unfortunately this is not the way Islam is treated in most Western capitals.
This is not the end of this cultural saga; there are and will be further compromises and from many surprising sources. Where this is leading is frighteningly clear: the incremental adjustment in Western standards.
Slowly, these compromises will lead to a change in our civilization, unless the West awakens to what is really expected by extremist Islam.
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