Let’s all agree that Rep. Mark Foley did some very bad things by sending sexually suggestive and explicit e-mails to young male pages. Let’s all agree that the House GOP leadership should have kept a much closer eye on Rep. Foley, an apparent pedophile or something that looks a lot like a pedophile to me.
May I make a few additional observations?
Hasn’t anyone noticed a certain pervasive sexualizing of children in America today and for the past decades? Children in sexual situations in movies, on TV, in music, in advertisements, especially for clothing? Hasn’t anyone noticed that sexualizing young girls (and to a lesser extent boys) is largely what modern Hollywood is about? Is it maybe time to ask if this is a good thing? Is it good to teach young people that they are primarily valued for their sexual allure and performance and availability? Maybe some good can come of the Foley scandal if we start to ask ourselves if we really want to teach our young people — or permit them to teach themselves — that their sex attributes are the bottom line of what counts about them? If you spend much time watching certain TV channels that appeal to young people, you get to suspect that this a pedophile nation and whether this is inevitable or whether it needs to be examined and challenged.
Second, and incomparably more important, yes, it’s interesting and instructive and merits attention that Mark Foley did what he did and that the GOP leadership did not do much about it. I hope my readers and fellow humans will not hate me too much if I say that in a world where 3,000 women and children are raped and/or murdered every day in Congo, a member of the United Nations, in which a genuine genocide is going on in Sudan, a member of the United Nations, in which more than fifty men and women per day are being tortured with electric drills and murdered in Iraq, in which two of the world’s most dangerous and insane men, Kim Jong Il and Mohammed Ahmadinejad, are developing nuclear weapons, the e-mail of one deranged middle class white man does not really count to me as much as it might to some other people.
In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when Ferris’s best friend tells him that his Dad’s favorite thing on earth is his Ferrari, Ferris says, “A man with priorities so far out of whack does not deserve such a fine car.”
We do not devote more than a few instants each month to the rape and murder in Congo. We barely notice the rape and genocide in Darfur. No one on earth except George W. Bush and John Bolton and Condoleezza Rice is trying to stop two maniacs from acquiring nuclear weapons even though one of them has promised to wipe out Israel if he gets them. But we can devote 24 hours a day, day after day, to the e-mails of one nutty Member of Congress to a teenage boy.
A country with its priorities so out of whack does not deserve to be the world’s shining city on a hill. Let’s take a moment, pray for guidance, turn Mr. Foley over to the proper mental health authorities, and try to, as the moral exemplar of the world, use every bit of strength we have to stop the slaughter of the innocents now and in the future. Mark Foley is important, but to me, he’s no more important than those teenage girls in Congo who get raped, have their arms chopped off, and then are murdered…and there are a lot of them. Let’s get our priorities straight. And don’t bother writing and telling me you hate me for caring more about murder than about e-mails, even extremely bad e-mails. You’re not going to change me. Our challenge as a moral people is about genocide far more than about sick individuals, even sick ones who carry the initials M.C. after their names. When I reflect that we live under the providence of a just God, I wonder how we will ever explain how much time we have wasted.
Five nights ago was Yom Kippur, the highest of Jewish High Holidays. As I contemplate the now extinguished candles memorializing my beloved mother and father and asking for God’s forgiveness of my endless sins, I want to say something.
I realize that my ability to pray to the Lord God, Jehovah, Lord of the High Places, giver of the most precious gift of all, peace, is entirely dependent on the courage and sacrifice of the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America. I would have no life at all, would not even be alive, would not be able to say a prayer, to hold my wife’s hand, to hug my beloved dogs, to walk in the sunshine, to swim under the night sky, to talk to my friends, to eat a piece of fried chicken, to listen to Bob Dylan, to sleep in clean sheets, were it not for the men and women who sleep in muddy holes, walk down the most dangerous streets on earth under 130 degree heat in full body armor, spend months without their families, come back in pieces or not at all, for people they never met.
Everything, every blessed part of my American life, my glorious life as an American comes down to this: far better men and women than I am offer up their lives to keep me and 300 million like me, alive, well, and free.
We Jews are not supposed to pray on our knees, but I am on my knees every morning and every night with thanks to the Lord God, Jehovah, Lord of Hosts, who has given my country, the world and me the real stars of modern life: the American military man, woman and their endlessly courageous families: God’s gifts.
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