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Jewish World ReviewDec. 2, 1999 /23 Kislev, 5760

Sam Schulman

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Love one another and die --
DON'T LET SOREHEADS and sourpusses gassing on about the Battle of the Brooklyn Museum tell you that we Americans are neo-puritans and anti-sex. In fact, when the chips are down, when values clash, when the lifeboats are launched, when life-and-death decisions have to be made, there is no doubt what our great-and-good put first. It's unfettered male sexual self-expression above all, everything else-well, if there's room.

This glorification of sex is vividly and surprisingly on view, in all places, in the affair of US late payments to the United Nations. The editorial page of The New York Times has scolded us regularly about this. Our shameful and embarrassing behavior over these dues will have the most dreadful effects. Unless we pay up, we will be relegated to a mere onlooker on the great affairs of the world. We may become a minor power which nobody respects or looks to for leadership, and which other nations will despise and regard as isolationist. At the next human-rights carpet-bombing ball, our B-52s will be wallflowers.

Well, thank goodness for our poor reputation, the UN dues matter is settled-with one footnote. US funds won't go to organizations which include the provision of abortions as part of family planning-a matter of a few millions. It will be a nuisance. A few men in India who want to terminate their wives' pregnancies because they are carrying a baby girl will have to dig into their own pockets. Municipal authorities in China who enforce the one-baby rule will have to pay for their coercive abortions in other ways-perhaps through road-repair funds. A few more potholes, a few more little girls, but the world will go on.

You wouldn't think so from the outcry. The New York Times editorial page has actually gone so far as to "bemoan" this outrage. Gore and Bradley have left off wringing one another's necks to wring their hands over it. But what about the claims that have been made for UN membership. Without the UN, genocide would spread over the earth (well, in fact the UN likes to look the other way, as it did on the spot in Rwanda, or prevent those who try to oppose it, as it did in Bosnia during the Boutros-Ghali regime, or promote brutal ethnic cleansing, as it did in the Krajina, and is now overseeing in Kosovo). Only the UN stands between us and nuclear holocaust (of course what stopped that threat was deploying the Pershing missiles and the development of star wars). Only the UN can prevent global environmental catastrophe (it can't, which is ok because there is no global environmental catastrophe). You'd think, that if any set of issues would top the wish list of the Gore and Bradley campaigns, and of the New York Times' editorial board, it would be those. And wouldn't arming ourselves against global warming, genocide, and all the ills the flesh is heir to, outweigh having to shift how abortions are paid for on the other side of the earth?

But you'd be wrong. Suddenly an asterisk in population policy becomes more important than the world not blowing into smithereens or melting into the warming oceans. Doesn't it seem extraordinary to you? If you had to choose between the four horsepersons of the Apocalypse, on the one hand, and making it a bit more of a nuisance to cull girl fetuses, wouldn't you plump for the big picture? There are only two possible explanations. The first can be discarded out of hand: that the UN's defenders are utterly insincere in their claims for it. That simply cannot be true. No, I think that the fact is that Al Gore, Bill Bradley, and the rest of the establishment enjoy sexual intercourse a lot more than they look like they do. And they'll defend to our death the right of the most irresponsible to enjoy it. Any limitation, for any reason, anywhere, on what enables male sexual pleasure to take place without biological consequences, is unthinkable. If FDR had to rewrite "the Four Freedoms" for today's world, they couldn't be printed in a family newspaper.

This isn't the first time that our establishment has shown its hairy hand in this way. The same extraordinary valuation was placed on male sexual pleasure during the AIDS epidemic among male homosexuals during the 1980s. It was precisely those whose lives were most at risk who acted. They insisted that ordinary public-health measures against infectious diseases-infection-tracing and asking carriers to disclose their disease to their sexual partners-must be forbidden. As a result, HIV spread faster and more widely than it would have done, and more gay men sickened and died. The AIDS establishment and its civil-rights cheerleaders were willing to accept this result, because the alternative was unthinkable-to put some - any-- theoretical limitation on sexual pleasure. Again, our society put its values in a stringent order of importance. First comes sexual gratification. A distant second? Saving lives and preventing a deadly illness striking the young and healthy.

So please, don't tell anyone we don't, as a nation of rugged individualists, care about the pleasures of the flesh. And whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of abortion, Roe v. Wade has been a blast for us men. One day, I hope, I'll be able to sit in my rocking chair and tell my disbelieving grandsons about the bad old days, which by then will have acquired a certain tawdry glamor-like the wild west. "Puffy, my lad," I'll say, "when I was a boy, if you can believe it, we lived in a coercive society. In fact, a young man like you couldn't look a strong independent beautiful woman in the eyes, take her hand in yours, and say, on the basis of perfect sexual equality, "What are you bothering me for, bit--? Get rid of it!"

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JWR contributor Sam Schulman is deputy editor of Taki's Top Drawer, appearing in New York Press, and was formerly publisher of Wigwag and a professor of English at Boston University. You may contact him by clicking here.


©1999, Sam Schulman