I confess to an electic nostalgia — I recall rotary phones with fondness, and the note-passing that was en vogue during high school, when texting meant one wrote in block characters rather then cursive. Accordingly I mourn the passing of trades made obsolete by so-called advances in technology, and the loss of all the technical art and skill that go with them. Who knows now how the elevator attendant managed all those buttons? Is there any alive now who can repair the wiring guts of an antique rotary phone? Eras vanish.
Therefore it is with great sadness that I learn that the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has announced his intention to ban female genital mutilation. President Museveni addressed a gathering in his country’s eastern Karamoja district: “The way God made it, there is no part of a human body that is useless.” Nice to see that the President still supports the ancient art of theologically medieval, ad hoc rhetorical justification — the way God mad it, indeed! — even if advances in so-called medical science and moral ethics are forcing him to retire his country’s corps of genital mutilators.
Let me propose a means by which this revered craft can be preserved.Let’s relocate a colony of labia carvers and their apprentice scalpel handlers to, say, Vermont or New Hampshire. They can set up a craft community, give tours and daily demonstrations for the Luddite looky-loos — like Sturbridge Village, if instead of hammer and anvils the blacksmiths did their work with artfully jury-rigged genital mutilation tools of the kind displayed by the genital mutilator in the photo here. Oh forces of modernity. Is there no tradition or trade that you won’t destroy, no custom you will respect?