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Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2001/ 25 Tishrei, 5762

Norah Vincent

Norah Vincent
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Consumer Reports

Bring a child into a world like this? -- MY partner and I have been talking about having a baby. But like many prospective parents these days, we've been given pause by a question we once considered maudlin: Why would we want to bring a child into a world like this?

It's a question I imagine many couples, perhaps American Jewish couples especially, asked themselves during World War II. To them, the pitched battle between democracy and Nazism must have seemed like a war that could end the world.

Why, they must have reasoned, would loving and responsible parents damn their children to such wretchedness? And yet, counterintuitive as it once may have seemed, regeneration is the greatest rebuke world Jewry has ever made to the Nazis, greater even than a Holocaust museum or the unflinching detail of lengthy documentaries such as "Shoah" or the creation and perseverance of the state of Israel.

Nothing could have nullified Hitler's Fnal Solution more completely than the fruitful multiplication of those who survived it.

If Hitler were alive today, he would be as deaf as ever to right and wrong. But failure? Now that would get him where he lived.

Imagine him ensconced in a modern version of Dante's inferno--a place where the punishment perversely fits the crime--being forced to watch endless reels of all the bris and bar mitzvah services that have taken place since 1945. Can't you just see him boiling with rage? And doesn't that image give you delicious satisfaction?

A similar image of a thwarted, fuming Osama bin Laden tied to the gaudiest float in every future Fourth of July parade that every child and every descendant of an American child ever attends gives me great pleasure as well. His utter failure would gall and shame him more than any moral condemnation.

And so, upon reflection, my partner and I have concluded that the ostentatious births of American children in the wake of Sept. 11 will sting our enemy more sharply than the deaths of all of Al Qaeda's already eagerly moribund assassins.

What's more, we've realized that the most life-affirming thing we as a nation can do to avenge the horrid deaths of those thousands of victims who perished at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and on the airplanes is to conceive and raise many, many thousands of open-minded, freedom-loving, democracy-partaking American "infidels."

We feel more determined than ever to bring a child into the kind of world in which jihad is a household word as well as an ongoing menace to the enlightenment ideals for which the West has always stood. No doubt, as parents, we'll feel equally determined to demand that this country's educators teach, and stop maligning and eschewing, the classic texts and core curricula that communicate those ideals.

If this war on terrorism is indeed a clash of civilizations, then our children deserve more than ever to understand what their civilization stands for and what about it is worth defending. To wit: freedom of religion, speech and the press; the rights to representative government, privacy, due process and equal protection under the law.

This doesn't mean blinding them to the mistakes and outright crimes this country has committed in the name of self-determination.

It does mean, however, that those who misrepresent the American flag as a symbol solely of oppression and imperialism and those who burn it in front of elementary school students must not go unchallenged.

Americans should take pride in knowing that giving birth to our children and rearing them to respect human life and the inalienable rights that come with it will prove the adage that living well is the best revenge.

JWR contributor Norah Vincent is a New York writer and co-author of The Instant Intellectual: The Quick & Easy Guide to Sounding Smart & Cultured. Comment by clicking here.

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09/28/01: Apocalypse now
09/07/01: Swimming with sharks
08/31/01: Time to 'fess up, America. Condit is doing exactly what he was elected to do
08/20/01: An Anti-Deconstructionist's Delight
07/17/01: Individualism Trumps Identity Politics
07/13/01: Blame anybody except she who did it
07/02/01: On reparations and mental slavery
06/27/01: I left the Left behind --- and the Politics of Victimhood
06/21/01: Spoiled Americans Here; Big Bad World Out There
06/13/01: 'Gotcha!' guidelines
06/06/01: Tit for tat, David Brock is a turncoat's tale

© 2001, Norah Vincent