Posts in Susan’s Musings

Mutilation or Not?

May 4th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 54 comments

This is going to be an incomplete Musing because I am committing to paper thoughts that need to be sharpened and shaped. That, of course, is true of all my Musings.  New information or ideas always abound.   Sometimes a phrase occurs to me that I wish I had thought of earlier.  Yet, this Musing is different because the topic is both difficult and important and I have never seen it discussed elsewhere. So, I am advancing opening thoughts and hope that others will pick up the conversation or point me to articles I have missed on the subject.

The New York Times Health Editor recently suggested that journalists replace the term “female genital mutilation” with “genital cutting.” This seemingly small change strikes me as hugely significant. The New York Times feels that the word “mutilation” is “culturally loaded.” In other words, it implies a negative judgment of a practice that in some cultures is perfectly acceptable (left unstated is that the ‘other’ is Moslem).

Meanwhile, over the years some have urged that male circumcision be called “male genital mutilation” or that the Moslem practice be termed ‘female circumcision’.   The intention here is to insist that circumcision of males and females is identical. In both these cases language is a way to affect perception.

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The Cañada College Core Curriculum: Bullying?

April 28th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 64 comments

Most of you, like me, have read how conservative speakers are being harassed and shut down on numerous college campuses. Sometimes violence is involved, such as at Berkeley, while other times “only” intimidation and disruption take place.

Not surprisingly, when a society rewards bad behavior, we get more of it. Since the protesters have not been arrested and/or expelled following these events, suppression of conservative speech is increasing.

My husband and I got our personal taste of this at  Cañada College in San Mateo, CA, this past Tuesday night. He was invited by students to give a speech about the morality of business and we soon found that the following notice, revealing the facility of language and depth of discourse one expects from college students, was circulating on campus.

The students who had invited us assured us that security measures were being taken and that a large turnout was expected, though they were expecting some protestors.

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Faith in America: A CBS Propaganda Documentary

April 20th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

I just finished watching a well done piece of propaganda, produced by CBS News. As I write these words it is Easter Sunday which, this year, falls in the middle of the Passover holiday.  It seemed appropriate to click on a video entitled “Faith in America: a History,” which I was sure would be a celebration of America’s tolerance and religious diversity. Traditionally, this is a time of year when secular networks tap into the holiday season by showing movies like The Ten Commandments or Ben Hur. A documentary on America’s various religious communities seemed to fit that tradition.

Of course, in a historical narrative it would be only honest and fair to mention the sad times when discrimination peppered our history. These would legitimately include, among other examples, early anti-Quakerism, the antagonism the Mormon Church faced, anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism. However, I assumed that the thrust of the show would express pride and gratitude for our amazing country.

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Harmful Hysteria

April 6th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 59 comments

I wasn’t planning to write about the Mike Pence non-story concerning his commitment to his wife because that is exactly how I saw it—as a non-story. To protect his marriage, he doesn’t dine alone with women other than his wife and, unless he is with his wife, Karen, he doesn’t attend parties where alcohol is served.  This very basic personal marital agreement was treated by feminist and liberal outlets with the same hysteria they would have accorded to the revelation that the Vice-president was actually Jack the Ripper.  Since hysteria on steroids has become the hourly response of many since November’s election, I decided to ignore the story.

I changed my mind and wrote the following because I remembered an encounter I had with a bright, conservative-leaning, religious young woman back in 2007. She explained why she was going to vote for Barack Obama and I was so taken aback that I was unable to respond. Later, I realized that her youth was leading her to believe campaign statements that sounded wonderful, without having the tools to judge them against history or reality.  Along with that recollection, I became aware that Karen and Mike Pence’s commitment had become a target of comedy shows. Laughter harnesses tremendous power that, if used negatively, is hard to combat and silence didn’t seem an option for me any longer.

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Too Much Choice?

March 30th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 34 comments

A favorite children’s book in our house was, Who Put the Pepper in the Pot? It describes how, as a pot of soup simmered on the stove, each passing family member added a pinch of pepper. Not surprisingly, by the time dinner was served, the soup was inedible.

A pinch of pepper adds zest to food; too much can ruin it. We can say the same about life choices. It’s wonderful to have choices in life; it is part of being alive.  However, it does seem that each year brings more and more options to young people. Most of these are choices which they have neither the experience nor the maturity to understand.

For many years now, among these choices are how much emphasis to place on a career or profession, whether to get married, and whether to have children (and whether to link the two latter activities). Universities, of course, have their own biases, which tend to minimize marriage and family or suggest that those will be available at any time of one’s choosing.

This week marks my mother’s seventeenth yahrzeit, the Jewish word for the anniversary of a death. During my childhood years, my mother, like most of my friends’ mothers, was “just a mom.” She was always there when I got home from school, she made a supper with a protein, carb and vegetable every night and made sure I had what I needed for school. In pre-computer days, this included a drawer full of magazine articles collected through the years, with pictures from around the world and biographies of interesting people. Since we didn’t have a car it also included taking me on regular bus trips to the library until I was old enough to go independently.

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Leaning Left

March 23rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

One of my granddaughters recently completed a homeschool assignment requiring her to tell a fairy tale from the point of view of one of the minor characters. She did a wonderful job relating Jack and the Beanstalk from Jack’s mother’s perspective. I think she may have a future in journalism.

I regularly scan a variety of newspapers and magazines. As part of that process, I view many news articles and opinion pieces from sources that pride themselves as being mainstream. Overwhelmingly, they tell news events from a Democrat and liberal perspective. Even the Wall Street Journal, whose opinion page skews right, presents the news as seen through liberal eyes.

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Behind Every Great Man…

March 16th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 50 comments

Quick! Is this a complimentary statement or an insult? “Behind every great man stands a great woman.” I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about this phrase. How exactly do I feel about it?

While I haven’t tried this experiment, I conjecture that if you asked college students what they think of those words, most would dismiss it as a relic of patriarchy. After all, it reeks of a time when women weren’t expected to be great themselves but only support staff. A variation of the saying is , “Behind every successful man there is a woman,” but this only emphasizes the potential problem even more. (For the purpose of this conversation, I am going to focus on wives rather than mothers, not because I underestimate maternal influence but because that’s a different discussion.)

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The Great Purim Baking Caper

March 9th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 135 comments

Today, I originally planned to write about immigration, which I would categorize as a political topic. But then, I started baking the Purim cookie known as hamantashen and things went so wrong that I thought I should share that experience with you.  I would categorize that topic as a family/personal Musing. While I much appreciate the regular feedback I get on my Musings, very, very, very few readers actually write comments on our website. I have no way of knowing if more people grimace in disappointment when the topic is political or social or whether a greater number shake their heads when I get personal, muttering, “I don’t really need to hear that.” So, until thousands more of you comment letting me know where your interests lie, I will continue to write about whatever is plucking at my mind and heartstrings.

I just spent four hours making cookies that are not as beautifully shaped (pictures below) and possibly not even as tasty as ones I could buy for $2.99 a dozen. If you don’t understand this, you are probably not female and cannot be (on this issue at least) what Anne of Green Gables would call a kindred spirit.

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Bomb Threats Revisited

March 2nd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 23 comments

When I was in high school, a relatively uncommon but not unknown phenomenon were bomb threats called in to my Jewish school. We dutifully evacuated the building while the police searched the premises. I remember feeling more delight at a break in routine than concern. Had the student body been polled I think more of us would have guessed that the threat originated with a fellow student trying to avoid an algebra exam rather than with a terrorist. 

Fast forward to the past few weeks where Jewish schools and community centers have been targeted with warning phone calls. Things look rather different from an adult perspective. I doubt they are signaling a serious physical threat. Terrorists of the past two decades such as those who orchestrated 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing or Fort Hood have not politely telephoned warnings of their intentions allowing lives to be saved.

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Three Cheers for Generation Z

February 23rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 16 comments

Can a video make you want to cry and cheer at the same time? Well, that was my reaction to this amazing video created by sixteen-year-old Autumn in reaction to a foolish and, dare I say, downright evil, article that ran in Teen Vogue magazine trivializing abortion. 

In her video, Autumn discusses the idea of female empowerment, dismissing the claim that ridding yourself of the bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh is empowering. Even if, to some degree or other, you accept abortion, each one is a tragedy not a triumph.

You won’t be shocked to hear that I do not read Teen Vogue. Nevertheless, Autumn’s video led me to take a look at its webpage. Here is their tag line: “The rebellious, outspoken, empowering magazine that you need right now.” A quick look at the titles suggested that their definition of rebellious is  walking in lock-step with academia, entertainment and most of the media. Outspoken, I grant them. Nevertheless, my biggest question had to do with the word empowering. 

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