Can I criticize a practice from another culture?
Sure I can!

"Where the light is brightest
the shadows are deepest."

Johann Wolfgang Goethe

      I have always hated that goddamn odious multiculturalist attitude I detect in the letter below implying there is no such thing as right or wrong in the world - only different cultural beliefs and relative goods and evils! The whole construct lacks gravity and everything is so random; a worldview which lacks ultimate evil can produce no ultimate good. If you cannot truly believe in anything, it is too easy to believe in nothing and stop searching for what might be worthy of belief. Hell, the searching for the good is half the struggle!

      I do not consider my opposition to female circumcision to be a "national" belief. I consider it a human belief. We are, after all, talking about the cruel maiming of an innocent girl and the despoiling of her ability to enjoy the procreative act which is so much more than procreative. I also suspect that the vast majority of honest Muslims would side with me in this debate.

      There are admittedly few absolutes in this complex world, but the cutting away of a young girl's clitoris might just be one of them - absolute wrong, that is. Absolutely wrong. Makes me want to be sick just thinking about it.

      Dear Alexa,

      I am glad you found much of interest on my page about female circumcision. I had a little trouble understanding exactly the last part of your message. I have received a couple of e-mail's in response to that page, all more or less saying the same thing. I just thought the practice of female circumcision so ineffably horrific and terrifying that I felt moved to comment. This being my webpage, I have that right. The practice of mutilating young girls has its defenders and I tried to put an example of their arguments so that other people could read them and make up their own minds.

      As a teacher, I have taught the noble religion of Islam in my classes and respect their convictions as I understand them (I do not remember anything about clitoral circumcision in the Koran). However, when those practices conflict directly with core beliefs of mine such as freedom of speech and thought, respect for the individual and their dignity, democracy and pluralism, etc. that certain Muslims do not respect, I have no patience for it. I believe in respecting other people until they prove undeserving of that respect. If I think a practice utterly barbaric (such as cutting off clitorises or killing people for their ideas), I will say so no matter from what country or culture they might be. Obviously, I would not advocate trying to interfere in the affairs of some distant and alien country, for example, such as Somalia over this ritual (although I advocated sending food when people were starving there). I fully realize they have their own country, culture, problems and historical dynamic. I have absolutely no desire to "dominate" some tiny country thousands of miles away. Nor do I necessarily think that my own country is so great. However, if a person moves to the United States and with premeditation mutilates a young girl's genitalia, we Americans can and should throw their ass in jail. Throw it UNDERNEATH the jail, as far as I am concerned. If that is ethnocentric or disrespectful of other cultures, then so be it.

      I hope you were able to read some of the more positive pages on my "Thoughts Worth Thinking" page - or perhaps my page about rape since that seems an issue close to your heart.

      Very Truly Yours,

      Richard Geib

At 08:10 PM 2/21/97 -0500, you wrote:

      Thank you Mr. Geib for your page on female circumcision. I absolutely do not agree with it. The Man who wrote an e-mail in response to you picture listing its benifits has no idea what a female's life in America is like in the first place. How, I ask, does he defend it by stating it will decrease rape cases because they can't feel? And what says the man will still be a virgin by marriage. Rape is a crime of power that happens because the rapist is sick not because of the woman herself. I am currently taking a women's studies at Southern Methodist University, and although this subject has yet to be discussed, the person in response to your page obviously holds the old male school of thought, and needs an awakening.

      As a woman, I could state how every statement made is in no relation to the feeling of becoming and being a woman. In respose I do not agree obviously, but crossing cultural barriers is not a question of todays American opinion, it is a question of whether America has the right to dominate other countries. We live in a community -- Earth, it is the smaller communities that we live in which we share similar views and philosophies, respecting those in the other communities. I don't live in Afica, my community is America.