Sometimes, the most historic news stories are not on the front page but way at the posterior of the news. This week that was so. American Liberalism, the country’s chief source of endless reform, has suffered a catastrophic setback. For years the Liberals have been bringing down upon us endless moral and political improvements — to say nothing of inconveniences and lost freedoms. They have visited upon us environmentalism, and consumerism, and, more recently, the anti-gun movement. If you have an ear for such things, doubtless you have apprehended renewed steam in the animal-rights movement. Vegetarianism is being pushed in schools and universities, where leafy repasts are being offered in the place of red meat and gravy. There also appears to be growing Liberal anxiety over coffee and cola.
Another of Liberalism’s rising reforms — a rather disgusting one, I might add — has been the Anti-Circumcision Movement (ACM). Well, this week it suffered a setback.
Again one had to read further back into the daily newspapers for this one, but it has been worth it. Laura Johannes writes, deep in the interior of the Wall Street Journal, that “Women whose sexual partners are circumcised have less chance of getting cervical cancer than those whose partners haven’t had the surgery….” She cites findings just published in that Liberal house organ, the New England Journal of Medicine, “that uncircumcised men are more likely to harbor human papilloma virus.” No small thing that, for though “papilloma” sounds like the name of a lovely Mediterranean resort or a very romantic song sung by a Brazilian bossa nova group; it actually is “a sexually transmitted virus…believed to cause nearly all cervical cancer.”
So where does that leave the heralds of ACM? If I read the Nation magazine correctly, and follow the sages on National Public Radio perceptively, the movement against circumcision was destined to become as strong as the anti-tobacco movement. But now we know. An uncircumcised penis is infinitely more deadly than a Marlboro. Are the Liberals going to continue to disparage a surgical movement that goes back to Biblical times? Are they going to promote cervical cancer, all for the joy of disturbing the settled custom of circumcision?
I predict they will. Remember my finding, arrived at after studying the Liberal mind for a generation. The only enduring political value that Liberals adhere to is neither freedom nor order, but that very peculiar political value: disturbing the peace. Liberals will in growing numbers promote their Anti-Circumcision Movement because it disturbs settled customs. But they will call for increased federal funding for the cure of cervical cancer. That brings up another interesting aspect of American Liberalism, to wit, having it both ways.
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is editor in chief of The American Spectator and a contributing editor of the New York Sun.
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