I know, it’s hard to believe but he does. He’s got a strange little niche as the “crunchy con”, a granola-eating Catholic conservative, and seems to get writing gigs all over the place. Given recent and ongoing historical revelations, just the word “Catholic” gives me heebie-jeebies, but I guess I’m alone in that, given that some people think “Jesuitical” is a compliment and that the Supreme Court seems to have been packed with practitioners of that bizarre faith.
But anyway, back to Rod Dreher. I actively avoid reading anything by the guy, which means that I only see the most outrageous excerpts that have already spread far and wide, so I admit to some sampling bias here. But how in the name of all that is holy and unholy did the opening paragraph of a recent essay pass by an editor?
I have never given circumcision a single thought, other than to consent to my sons’ circumcision. Europeans think its weird for American Gentiles to be circumcised, and I think they’re right … but I remember the one kid we had in my elementary school class, a black boy who had been born at home, and who was not circumcised. All us boys wanted to stare at his primitive root wiener when we were at the urinal during recess, because it was monstrous. Nobody told us that wieners could look like that. The kid didn’t know why his penis was so strange looking, and neither did we. Third grade, man.
That is amazing. The first sentence is the car driving through the fence railing and over the cliff, the second sentence is the bone-crushing crunch as it hits a boulder on the way down, and the third is when the vehicle bursts into flame and explodes. It’s like a 70s detective show.
The overall message of the essay is one I agree with, that routine circumcision is a bad practice, but how he gets there is weirdly traumatic.
The first bit is expected and routine — of course Rod Dreher never gave it a moment’s thought when he agreed to let doctors do unnecessary surgery on his children’s penises. He put far more thought into the arguments of anti-vaxxers when he decided to ignore his doctors and space out his children’s vaccination schedule, but hacking off bits of a baby’s flesh? Sure, everyone else is doing it, let’s go along.
But then, the presentiment of doom comes along when he introduces the subject of his reminiscence…a
black boy. His skin color is totally irrelevant to his point, but it does prime the explosives nicely for that moment when he sets off
primitive root wiener, which was
monstrous. Yikes. Hey, editor at the American Conservative: you’ve got an essay about the perils of circumcision, and you could have honed it easily by snipping out “black” and removing the whole racist diversion into the black child’s monstrous, primitive penis but did you? No, you did not. You may not have even noticed.
Dreher was a late convert to Catholicism (he has since left the church, after Pope Benedict retired, because he was concerned at how it has lost “rigor” since Vatican II in 1959 — he’s a very strange man) so his religious upbringing doesn’t quite explain his bizarre childhood behavior. All the boys in his elementary school would gather around the urinal to stare at a penis? I don’t believe it. I don’t recall ever seeing any other child’s penis in elementary school, let alone retaining it as a vivid memory later in life. In my schooling, the children wore pants, and using the urinal wasn’t an invitation to a communal gawping session. But then, maybe schools were different in Lousiana, where he grew up. Y’all wear pants down South, right?
I don’t think you can blame it on “Third grade, man.” In my third grade experience, I was obsessed with dinosaurs, not black boys’ penises.