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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post re: Adultery and Circumcision (Alain de Benoist, France)
Created by John Eipper on 07/11/10 8:05 AM - re-adultery-and-circumcision-alain-de-benoist-france

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re: Adultery and Circumcision (Alain de Benoist, France) (John Eipper, USA, 07/11/10 8:05 am)

Alain de Benoist writes:

Several posts about two obviously sensitive topics: adultery and circumcision, have been recently forwarded to WAISers. I would like to add a few comments.

Michael Margulies (6 July) sent a link to a CNN story concerning a 42-year-old Iranian woman who would have been sentenced to stoning for adultery. Iran denied the reality of this case. I do not know myself. These last years, some stonings of women for adultery have been registered, but mainly in Saudi Arabia. Any way, such stonings seem to very rare--fortunately. As I am sure there are as many adulterous wives in Iran as in the US, if stoning for adultery were the rule in that country, we would hear about that everyday.

Nigel Jones (9 July) wrote about the stoning to death of women for alleged adultery, that 'there should be no defence of them [such crimes] on WAIS.' This sentence is very strange. First, I do not see why a WAISer who would want to defend this practice, should not be allowed to do it. I only would be delighted to argue with him/her, to defend the contrary opinion. Second, writing this sentence gives the impression that stoning of women has been defended, legitimitated or approved by some WAISer. If I am not mistaken, nobody took such a position. So, why this sentence?

Nigel wrote also that 'the only answer of a tolerant society to intolerance is⦠well, intolerance.' I certainly would agree with him that tolerance must not be mistaken for indifference. But in that case, what would the difference be between the (old) intolerance of some ones and the (new) intolerance of the others? Clearly, on the whole, only intolerance would have grown. The temptation could also be great to describe the others as intolerant just to legitimate our own intolerance towards them. And by the way, where does intolerance begin? What can be tolerated, what is unacceptable? From which point of view? Do we have to be tolerant only towards people who behave like us? Nigel's sentence reminds me the famous word uttered by Saint-Just: 'No liberty for enemies of liberty!'

The problem of adultery could be taken otherwise. In the past, adultery was (more or less) severely punished in all human societies. Women's adultery was generally still more severely punished than men's adultery, for the obvious reason that the former (but not the later) could result into the bringing and raising in the family of a child from 'outside.' Question: should adultery considered as something which ought to be punished or not? My personal answer is: no. But I am sure that other (many?) WAISers would answer: yes. In that case, what would be, following them, the appropriate punishment?

It's quite surprising that people who establish a link between Islam and the stoning of adulterous women, omit regularly references to the Bible. It is in the Bible that such practice was, not only quoted for the first time, but made a religious oubligation (under the so-called Moses law). Just read Lev. 20:10 or Deut. 22:20. See also John's Gospel 8:5. The same people always speak about Jihad, but they never utter a word about 'milkhemet mitsvah' (or 'mil'hamoth mitswa'), whose meaning is exactly the same. Actually, the word Dijad ('djihâd') can have three different meanings in Islam: the fight against oneself, against our bad fondnesses or tendencies (the equivalent in Judaism is 'milkhemet hayézèr'), the fight against the 'infidels,' and the fight against 'bad Muslims.' In the Qûran, the word Jihad is never used with a violent meaning--violence being rather present through the word 'qatala,' 'to kill.'

Circumcision now. Being very happy to be uncircumcised, I have sympathy with the well-balanced and well-informed post written by Deborah Dupire-Nelson (9 July). Being very happy to be circumcised, Nigel Jones (10 July) does not share this sympathy. Well, I think this is a matter of personal choice: if some people want to cut out some parts of their own body, its their own business. The only problem is that small boys have no possibility to express such a choice (that's why Deborah spoke about 'involuntary genital mutilation').

Male circumcision was not invented for any hygienic or medical reasons, but for religious reasons. This has been many times established by ethnologists. After a while, as usual, people tried to find rational reasons for this irrational practice. Their arguments, well presented and summarized by Nigel, have been more than once contradicted by opponents to circumcision (see in the scientific literature all the specialists who consider that the so-called health or hygiene benefits of male circumcision are just non-existent). The discussion is still open, of course. For both Jew and Muslims, circumcision of boys is a religious obligation (a 'mitsvah' in Hebrew). In Anglo-Saxon countries, but mainly in the US, this circumcision is routinely performed, with or without the agreement of the families, on boys who are neither Jewish nor Muslim. In continental Europe, this phenomenon is completely unknown. Even if male circumcision and female genital cutting have not the same consequences, both of them are considered to be sexual mutilations. Outside of religious motives, male circumcision can only be performed in some particular occasions (in the case of a phimosis, for instance). Outside of the Jews and Muslims, I think that everybody in continental Europe thinks these practices are abhorrent.

Speaking about female genital cutting (removal of the clitoris and/or of the labia), Nigel described it as a 'practice of male subjugation of female sexuality,' whose aim is to render the women 'more subservient to their husbands.' Though some feminists would probably endorse this view, most ethnologists and anthropologists who have seriously studied the subject would disagree. That it is particularly pleasurable for the husbands that their wives do not have sexual pleasure with them is already questionable. Female genital cutting, which have nothing to do with Islam, but is mainly practiced in the Horn of Africa (Michael Margulies was wrong to write that 'clitoral amputation' is part of the 'fate of women under Sharia Law'), is exclusively performed by women on their daughters. The main problem, when we criticize this practice (and I criticize it), is that it is impossible to abstract it from a much wider socio-anthropological context: in the countries where it is practiced, it will just be impossible for an 'uncut' girl to find an husband and to have children. Western interventions in that field are doomed to fail. The only hope is a gradual evolution of local mentalities.

More generally, to make judgments about the 'women's condition' in the world by taking for model the life conditions of western women today is just another form of ethnocentrism. We should not forget that the way many western women live or behave themselves is quite often seen with hatred and even disgust by women living in more traditional societies. Western minds have always difficulty to understand that their values or conceptions are not universal values and conceptions. We have now, in France, a very good example of this implicit conflict of mentalities with the discussions about the burka: those who want to forbid it say it is an attack against women's dignity, while the women who want to wear it say it is the best way to protect their own dignity. A very interesting debate.


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