We’re Here. Now What?

I am not quite sure what we’re supposed to do about modern American liberalism, insofar as it is consolidating itself along ever-more intolerant and dictatorial lines and is apparently refining its ruthlessness by the day, if not the hour. There was once a time not very long ago when the average person’s experience with progressivism’s oppressive impulse began and ended with silly political correctness: you learned there was a new word or descriptor or insult you could not say anymore, “black,” for instance, or “stewardess,” or “retard,” or “gay,” and maybe you were okay with not saying some of these words—maybe they had a point about some of them—but in any case even if you didn’t like it you just shook your head and muttered “You can’t say anything anymore,” and moved on with your life. This was, let’s say, a kind of 1990s phenomenon: comedians made some jokes about it, some people grumbled, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.

But that was then and this is now, and you can’t really just shake your head anymore. The stakes are higher and you kind of have to adapt—i.e. break yourself to the progressive saddle—or die. This is the way they have designed it. Out of San Francisco comes the latest shot fired over the latest bow:

The ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP today filed a lawsuit against Dignity Health for denying care to a transgender patient.

Filed on behalf of Evan Minton, the suit argues that withholding medical care because of a patient’s gender identity is sex discrimination in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Minton, 35, is a transgender man who was scheduled to receive a hysterectomy in September at Mercy San Juan Medical Center, a hospital in the Dignity Health chain. Two days prior to the appointment, a nurse called to discuss the surgery and Minton mentioned that he is transgender. The next day, the hospital canceled the procedure.

“The refusal of Dignity Health to allow a doctor to perform this common procedure simply because the patient is transgender is discriminatory,” said Elizabeth Gill, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “This is a hospital that is open to the general public so it’s illegal for them to turn away someone based on gender identity.”

The most salient aspect to this lawsuit is this: “gender identity” does not, strictly speaking, exist. It’s a fake, nonexistent thing, a word used as a stand-in for a mental illness, promulgated by activists and half-bright socio-sexual anarchists who are too cowardly to call the mental illness for what it is and too opportunistic to pass up using it for their own ends. In other words, the ACLU is attempting to bring conscientious objectors to heel at in service to a sick fraud. (And, California being California, there’s a decent chance they will succeed.)

But the more pressing practical concern is this: even if transgenderism were an authentic and actualized phenomenon rather than a fake one borne of psychological misperception, that still wouldn’t justify the lawsuit: the young woman in question admits that she was “eventually able to schedule the surgery at another hospital.” So she got what she wanted, and Dignity Health got what it wanted, and everyone should be happy at this point, no lawsuit needed, no further action necessary. That’s the simple and uncomplicated greatness of living with pluralism as an a priori assumption of the civic order: at the end of the day two parties with conflicting viewpoints and philosophies can almost always go home happy and unharmed.

That’s not the way things work anymore. Nor is this simply a matter of a hospital shaking its head and muttering, “You can’t deny healthy women hysterectomies anymore.” The issues at stake here are far more important than feminists whining about the term “manhole cover,” or whether or not you’re still allowed to say “African-American.” The concept of a deeply pluralistic society, in which factional strife is kept at a minimum and there are a million good ways to do a billion different things, is not a virtue in the Left’s eyes; it’s a sin, a kind of perversion of the natural order, an order which skews ever-more left with each passing day. The phrase “We’re not a hospital that removes perfectly healthy uteruses” might, once upon a time, have been uncontroversial, even laudatory. Now it is literally on the verge of becoming criminal. How did that happen? More importantly, why did it happen? Ask yourself. And do not be blind to what exactly is happening here.

You Eat What You Pay For

I have something of a dim view of the organic food industry, inasmuch as, in many cases, it has strayed from its roots in the worst ways possible: what began as an effort to get healthier food onto peoples’ plates has become a marketing ploy for selling overpriced commodities and frozen home meal replacements. Just the same, I encourage people to shop and eat organic whenever they can, and to do so smartly: buy local whenever possible, stick to whole ingredients, avoid regularly buying trendy boutique items like New York strips and pork tenderloin. Buy simple and close to home: that’s the easiest way to do organic, if you’re going to do it.

Still, it’s easy to miss the point. At Prevention, Amy Schlinger explains how she “tried to eat organic for a month without spending extra on food.” The plan was mostly a success, though, as she tells us, there was some difficulty:

I live in New York City, where groceries—and pretty much everything else—tends to be pretty expensive. But when you don’t have a car to carry home a trunk-load of food at a time, convenience is also a factor. For that reason, I’ve been getting groceries from an online food delivery service, FreshDirect, for a while now. The delivery fee is minimal, and my bill has always been comparable to what I’d pay if I went to the store myself. But once I went organic, I had to reconsider whether I could really afford this luxury.

For example, chicken is a staple that I buy all the time. I normally buy chicken that’s raised without antibiotics, but not organic, which FreshDirect usually sells for $5.99 a pound. The organic version? $8.99 a pound. Since I only shop for myself I just need a pound at a time, so three extra dollars might not sound like much. But when the organic version of just about everything you buy costs a few dollars more you have a problem. I realized I was going to have to switch things up if I was going to make it through the month without busting my budget.

Now, to be perfectly fair, there are folks for whom the organic price tag is a hurdle (though to be fair those usually aren’t the same folks who are ordering their groceries through a delivery service). But for the most part, most of us are capable of affording food that’s a bit more expensive. And that’s really the point: if you want better food—and organic food is indeed better, particularly the fresher and more local it gets—then you’re going to have to pay more. It should come as no surprise to anyone that higher-quality products are more expensive: nobody is shocked that a Mercedes-Benz costs more than a Honda Accord, after all. It is only where food is concerned that we have this strange notion that better should also be cheap, or that the cheap stuff should be just as good for us as the better stuff.

Unfortunately, the market doesn’t really work that way. And so a commitment to eating better is invariably going to have to be accompanied by a higher price tag. It’s no scandal; it’s simply a matter of priorities, and deciding whether you want to pay more for food and less for other things, or vice versa. Amy Schlinger surely understands the trade-off: for instance, she recently spoke favorably of a $165 pair of shoes, a price tag about three times higher than what I’m willing to pay for new kicks. We all make trade-offs. Choosing to buy cheaper food doesn’t make you a bad person, but complaining about the higher price of good food when you’re willing to pay high prices for other things makes you look, at the very least, silly.

Change is Coming, Little Butterfly

In the past I have heard conservatives say that, though they disagree with Bernie Sanders about almost everything, they nevertheless respect him a little bit for, at the very least, sticking to his guns and remaining ideologically true to his principles. I get this, sort of, but in the end I find it difficult to respect a man whose principles are not merely wrong but demonstrably, obviously so: Bernie may believe the same things he’s consistently believed for four decades, but they’re stupid things, and he should know they’re stupid things, and the fact that he has chosen not to know renders him a bit, well, stupid in my eyes.

He does, however, have one string to his bow that makes him, if not respectable, then at least occasionally tolerable and sometimes worth listening to: he is not afraid to criticize the idiot brigade of the modern Democratic Party. I suppose it’s understandable that, after the corrupt, Clinton-rigging Democrat machine chewed Bernie up and spit him out last year, he might be willing to take the gloves off when it comes to the donks. But give him credit, he’s right about this:

Fresh off his “Unity Tour” alongside Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Sunday that the Democratic Party needs to change. “I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing,” Sanders said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Why does the senator have such a dim view of the party that almost turned him into a presidential candidate? Because it keeps losing. “We have a Republican president who ran as the most unpopular candidate in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said. “Republicans control the House, the Senate, two-thirds of governor chairs, and in the last eight years they have picked up 900 legislative seats. Clearly the Democratic Party has got to change.”

As far as the Vermont senator is concerned, the Democratic Party should become “a grassroots party, a party which makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party which is more dependent on small donations than large donations.” Once the party really takes up the issue of standing up “to the billionaire class,” then turnout will soar and Democrats will start winning again.

Sanders is right that the Democrats need to change, but he is wrong in believing that it’s a matter of becoming “a grassroots party,” and he is doubly wrong to think it will happen either way. Why? Because for the Democratic party to change in any meaningful sense—for a Democratic change to have any practical value at all—the shift will have to be ideological, not financial; the party would have to effect an entire change of philosophy, at which point they would stop being Democrats and just start being, well, conservatives, or at least small-r republicans.

The Democratic Party is failing because it is running a dead platform of dead ideas: centralization, massive government, high taxes, high spending, overregulation, vicious racial identity politics, literal dead babies. This is how the modern Democratic coalition is construed; these are the hills they die on, even—especially—the one about dead babies: while Bernie campaigned on behalf of Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello last week, DNC head Tom Perez threw Mello under the bus for not supporting “a woman’s right to [abortion].” So this is the Democratic Party of 2017: if you’re a corrupt career politician or a crazy old crank socialist you have a decent shot at the presidency, but if you believe it’s wrong to murder innocent human beings then you won’t even get any help in an Omaha mayoral race.

Bernie is right: this needs to change. But how likely do we think the Democratic Party—intellectually exhausted, run primarily by old white people, increasingly intolerant of even the mildest and most inoffensive instances of dissent or unorthodoxy—will change? Do you see someone like Elizabeth Warren moderating her stance on anything, or Tim Kaine returning to his hallowed centrist roots, or Kamala Harris changing her mind about the weaponization of government for the persecution of dissidents? The likelihood of any of this changing over the short-term is entirely doubtful, and the prospects of Democrats look at the national, state and local levels look correspondingly grim. Poor old Heath Mello will just have to subsist on his own out there in Omaha. Maybe Bernie can knock on some doors for him before it’s too late.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Butts

When a progressive proposes a new law or new public program to achieve some sort of policy end, what should your response be? Unequivocally your response should be “no.” I don’t mean to make obstinate pigheads out of anyone—my own grandmother had a maxim, “Say yes when you can, no when you have to,” which is a wonderful creed by which to live. In the case of liberal policy, however, you always have to say no. It’s just that simple.

Why? Because liberal policy is always just a stopgap—for more liberal policy. There is never a progressive proposal that will not lead to a doubling down of that same progressive proposal a few years hence. For a perfect example of this phenomenon, take a look at what’s happening in New York City:

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged his support on Wednesday to a series of initiatives to cut tobacco use, proposing to raise the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City to $13 and vowing to sharply reduce, over time, the number of stores that may sell tobacco products.

Raising the minimum price of a pack to $13, from the current $10.50 minimum, would make New York the most expensive place in the nation to buy cigarettes, city officials said.

The goal, Mr. de Blasio said, is to persuade or coerce 160,000 of the 900,000 New York City residents who smoke to stop doing so by 2020.

“Persuade or coerce” could be the motto of every totalitarian dictatorship on the planet. de Blasio’s administration is not totalitarian, of course—but it certainly exhibits and advances certain totalitarian impulses, chief among them the desire to police and control personal behavior. It greatly offends Bill de Blasio that people in New York City smoke cigarettes. As a result, New York smokers must change. The mayor will not be satisfied until they do.

This is, in the great progressive portfolio of ideas, not all that big of a deal—it’s a cigarette price hike in New York City, which is to say it’s the policing of a disgusting behavior in a city that is, and has been for some time, famous for overregulation and heavy government. But that’s kind of the point: tobacco was already heavily regulated in New York City. Back when I was a smoker I was blown away to learn that my American Spirits cost upwards of $14.00 in most Brooklyn bodegas, nearly 200% more than they did in most of Virginia. New York’s cigarette tax was already the highest in the country prior to de Blasio’s latest efforts. The minimum age for cigarette purchases in New York is 21, three years older than the rest of the country; smoking is prohibited in just about every place but a few street corners in Koreatown; New York schools are required to teach anti-tobacco health education to all students; etc.

If these laws were already on the books, why add another one? This is why: because progressivism never stops. There is a reason that a great many leftists who believed that Obamacare was the greatest piece of legislation in the history of Western civilization are now whining that we need to implement a “Medicare For All” national health care policy; it’s the same reason that so many on the left believe that Title IX allows for men to use women’s locker rooms on college campuses. The one thing is never just the one thing. If progressives try a little social or economic engineering and find the results lacking, you will never, ever—not in a thousand years—hear them utter the phrase, “Well, I guess that didn’t work. We should repeal this law.”

If you are a smoker, it’s worth the time and effort for you to quit; believe me, I know. But you shouldn’t quit at the behest of a finger-wagging big nanny mayor and his team of moral scolds. Sadly, if you live in New York City, that’s probably what’s going to end up happening—unless you’re willing to one day be one of the last smokers in Manhattan, paying $48 for a deck of Marlboros and smoking them in the last raw sewage pipe in which you’re allowed to light up. “That will never happen!” you say. That’s always the case, isn’t it?

The Art of Not Forcing It

The media love a good squabble, and they also love to frame squabbles in a particular way, which is why newspapers like the L.A. Times run headlines like this one:

Conservative opposition to Pope Francis spurs talk of a schism in the Catholic Church

Note the dichotomy: it’s “conservative opposition,” rather than the Holy Father’s own doctrinal undertakings and impulses, that is threatening a “schism.” I guess this is the “Republicans Pounce” of the Catholic beat.

It is repugnant to imagine a Catholic encouraging, much less desiring, anything resembling a “schism” within Church hierarchy: we are called to be “one Body, one Spirit in Christ,” which is a little difficult to do if you’ve driven a wedge between yourself and your brothers, as the Protestant Revolution so aptly demonstrated some several centuries heretofore. Really, the gap between Pope Francis’s pastoral ambitions and the “conservative opposition” of the cardinals is best styled not as schismatic but rather logical, viz:

As Francis enters his fourth year in office, his conservative opponents have chosen to stand and fight over his 2016 apostolic exhortation titled “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love,” in which he suggested bishops can use discretion in granting Communion to Catholics who divorce, then remarry in a civil ceremony.

Francis’ guidance was seen by many as contradicting the ruling, which dates to the early days of the Roman Catholic Church, that couples are living in sin if they remarry, because their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of the church.

The passive voice (“was seen by many”), the weasel construction (“as contradicting the ruling”)—it all undersells the rather inexplicable and indefensible nature of the whole proposal. Unquestionably, Francis’s idea flies in the face of Catholic teaching, which holds that “divorced” and “remarried” Catholics are unable to receive Communion. But this is simply a workaday application of the Church’s long-established rule that forbids Catholics from receiving communion while in a state of mortal sin. And so the Kasper proposal ultimately strikes at the heart of the Church’s understanding of sin itself: if one objectively mortal sin is okay—if bishops are going to permit Catholics to consciously and deliberately live in mortal sin as a principle feature of their lives while behaving as if they are reconciled to, and in full communion with, the Church—then why not another one, or two more, or all of them? Why even preach against sin at all, if ultimately you are prepared to proactively tolerate it?

I have not yet found or been presented with a way to resolve this dilemma; the best explanation that pro-Kasper folks have been able to give usually runs along these lines: “If we don’t allow [Catholics living with mortal sin] to receive communion, then they’ll feel alienated and leave the Church.” It is mystifying to me why these appear to be the only two options—why more vigorous catechizing and moral instruction is overlooked or otherwise ignored—and moreover the proposed solution is effectively worse than the problem: rather than instruct against one mortal sin, we might—by encouraging these folks to receive communion—have them commit two! Surely we can do better than this; we do not need to throw around words or concepts like “schism” to recognize that this is a bad path for Christianity, which is to say ultimately the Christian faithful.

We Interrupt This Broadcast

To regular and first-time readers of Trial of the Century, I am pleased to make an exciting announcement: very shortly I will join the masthead over at the College Fix as an assistant editor. The College Fix is a publication run by the Student Free Press Association, which works with aspiring young college-aged journalists to hone their craft and do solid reporting on campuses across the country. I’m looking forward to helping young writers develop their skills and shine light on countless important issues regarding our country’s higher education system. You can subscribe to the College Fix here.

As always, you’ll still be able to read my writing here, at the Federalist and elsewhere. I’m grateful to everyone who’s along for the ride as I get started in this new position. Thanks for reading!

Why Do We Call Him Good?

Today is Good Friday, outwardly the most counterintuitively-named holy day of the year but ultimately the most appropriately so. There is in fact no more aptly denominated day in the Gregorian calendar; nothing comes close to the rightness of this day, neither practically nor emblematically. We are apt to forget how odd this day’s observance must have seemed within the society in which it first arose: a bunch of weird zealots marking the brutal execution of a convicted criminal, Who they claim rose from the dead and who they insisted—absurdity piled on top of outrage—was God Himself and deserving of supreme worship. Enough time has passed, of course, that many of us are more or less used to it, falling victim to the siren song of anodyne familiarity. But we must not let it become not weird—we should not neuter the Sacrifice of Calvary to become just another Friday—we must not forget the inestimable goodness of what Christ accomplished. “If what Christians say about Good Friday is true,” wrote Fr. Neuhaus, “then it is quite simply the truth about everything.”

For nonbelievers I want to make note of Fr. Neuhaus’s point by drawing your attention to what is often called Lewis’s Trilemma. We live in a squirmy and equivocal age, one in which fundamental truth is eschewed in favor of bland and homogenized squish rhetoric, and nowhere is this more clear than in a pervasive and persistent treatment of Christianity, one that has been around for centuries but has never been more prominent than it is today. This approach to Christian doctrine—practiced de facto even by some self-professed Christians—holds that Christ Himself was not actually Christ Himself, so to speak: that instead of being the Son of God and the Second Person of the Trinity, He was instead simply a “great moral teacher,” one Who was post mortem deified by His followers but Who never Himself claimed any deified status and who never in fact sought that status for Himself to begin with. This strain of thought asserts that, rather than claim to be God, Christ only claimed to be good, like a friendly fellow on a street corner, and He should thus be understood, interpreted and followed in precisely that manner.

Not so, says Lewis: there are really only three options, and Jesus the Hallmark Card isn’t one of them. Either Christ was God, as He claimed to be, or else He was a liar (claiming to be God when He knew He really wasn’t) or else He was a lunatic (claiming to be God as a manifestation of mental illness). There is no fourth option, certainly no Nice Guy Christ option, unless of course we’re assuming a priori that the divinized Christ of the Gospels is a corruption of some earlier undeified friendly rabbi—but this would render the Gospels themselves wholly unreliable testimonies to the life of Jesus, in which case the Great Moral Teacher argument itself collapses for lack of evidence, making the Gospels a queer kind of artifact, an historical document that apparently came from nowhere and means nothing at all.

We must, as a result, be prepared to call Jesus what He really is, whatever that may be: “I AM,” in His own words, or a fraud who died an ignominious fraud’s death, or a crazy man who perished under a delusion. We must also be prepared to call his followers what they are: either disciples of God, or snookered idiots of a huckster peasant, or else disciples of an insane first-century Jewish criminal.

The Moral Teacher argument seeks to subvert all three of these conclusions, so far as I can tell for three principle reasons: out of sensitivity (people do not want to insult or hurt the followers of Christ by calling them dupes), cowardice (people do not want to risk embarrassing themselves by having to defend the indefensible latter two prongs of the trilemma), and a third reason that is somehow more insidious: opportunism. For surely there are a great many people who yearn to weaponize the Christian religion as a partisan political tool, overwhelmingly in the direction of progressive policy concerns. It would do liberalism a great service to see the great mass of Christians stop worshiping Christ as Lord (which puts Him above all earthly powers and concerns) and instead start following Him as a state-level Democratic PR flak (which would put Him beneath even Nancy Pelosi).

I, for one, believe that Christ was and is Who He said He was and is—the evidence for this is too compelling, and the evidence against it is too shaky and unsubstantiated, to believe otherwise. Thus I celebrate Good Friday as genuinely good, as a good thing accomplished singularly by the One who is Good. Do not trouble yourself with the apparent contradiction between the somber, fearful tenor of Good Friday and the earthquake majesty and blessed salvation it begets; consider instead these words, again from Fr. Neuhaus: “Today, here at the cross, our eyes are fixed on the dying derelict who is the Lord of life. We look at the one who is everything that we are and everything that we are not, the one who is true man and true God. In him we, God and man, are perfectly one. At-one-ment. Here, through the cross, we have come home. Home to the truth about ourselves. Home to the truth about what God has done about what we have done. And now we know, or begin to know, why this awful, awe-filled Friday is called good.”

All the Pilgrims From All the Lost Places

Years ago I dated a gal whose very liberal family was openly discussing the possibility of leaving the country in the wake of George W. Bush’s 2004 electoral victory. Being young and stupid, I was very upset at the possibility of losing my girlfriend to emigration (when you’re in high school, your entire world generally hinges on whether or not you have someone to hang out with on Friday nights). At the time it seemed like a distinct and frightening possibility. At fourteen years old, a lot of preposterous things seem distinct and frightening.

I know more now than I did back then, and one thing I know is this: every time an election doesn’t go their way, a critical mass of liberals vows to flee the United States for more enlightened lands—the Nordic countries, say, or the ghettos of East London, or the Benxi Water Caves. It’s just part and parcel of the American progressive enterprise: if a president you don’t like wins enough electoral votes to head the executive branch for four years, then you have to threaten to uproot your entire life and go live somewhere far, far away. And you’ll probably be unsurprised to know that, nearly a decade-and-a-half after my girlfriend’s family was swearing up and down to board the next cargo plane to Dingle Bay, the tradition continues on apace:

The first sign of what Rob Calabrese would come to think of as America’s unmooring began last year, just after Donald Trump won his first presidential primary and Calabrese published a $28 website that he’d designed in 30 minutes. “Hi Americans!” it began, and what followed was a sales pitch for an island where Muslims could “roam freely,” and where the only walls were those “holding up the roofs” of “extremely affordable houses.”

It was meant as a joke — but seven hours after Calabrese linked the site to the Facebook page of the pop radio station where he works as a DJ, in came an email from America. “Not sure if this is real but I’ll bite.” And then another: “It pains me to think of leaving, but this country is beyond repair.”

And then more. Within 24 hours, there were 80 messages. Within a week, there were 2,000, and many used the same words: “nervous” and “terrified” and “help…”

“I desperately want to move my daughters to the safety and sanity of Canada,” email No. 3,248 read. “It doesn’t even really matter if Donald Trump wins. He has exposed the awful attitude that plagues the US.”

“This is no longer the America I have loved for all my life,” email No. 3,310 read. “I am a hardworking man and could contribute much to any country that gives me a chance.”

It was somewhere around email 4,230 that Trump was elected president of the United States, and just before his inauguration came email No. 4,635.

“Looking to immigrate to Cape Breton area from Colorado,” it began. “I am a skilled paralegal and my wife is an attorney.”

Calabrese read it, wondered briefly about the people who sent it, and waited for the next one to come in.

“What do people see on the horizon to be this afraid?” he said.

The short answer to that last question is: nothing. Indeed, any serious examination of the panic surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency would assuredly reveal very few, if any, valid reasons for wanting to leave the country. But the vanities of progressive hysteria aren’t generally predicated on notions of validity. The point here isn’t that Donald Trump poses some imminent threat to “the America I have loved all my life;” the point is that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, Donald Trump won it, and a lot of liberals are really angry and really embarrassed and want to express their anger and embarrassment in the most histrionic way possible.

That’s not to say progressives don’t believe themselves when they say things like, “I desperately want to move my daughters to [Canada].” My own personal witness to this nonsense showed me that, even if the intended follow-through is a fantasy, the declarations to leave the country are themselves delivered with complete sincerity. Liberals really do believe this stuff. And so it is worth asking why—why so many on the Left are so often determined to flee the United States when things briefly don’t go their way, and why conservatives are overwhelmingly unlikely to do the same.

Part of it may indeed be a simple addiction to theatrics: modern progressivism thrives on pretending that every political event is a life-or-death scenario in which one choice will lead to peace and prosperity forever and the other choice will lead to death and destruction and dead puppies and 1984 or whatever. Closely related is the tendency for liberals to treat politics like the religion that many liberals have left behind: when government is God and government officials are priests and government programs are sacraments, a loss at the federal level can feel more than a little bit like a Beeldenstorm. And maybe there’s just a natural short-sightedness at work here, something particularly endemic to liberalism. Maybe conservatives are just better at assessing the long game, they are better at hoping for better, they are capable of seeing not just one move ahead but two or three or five. We get upset when a Democrat wins the presidency, sure—but for the most part we don’t have the same response as a great many liberals, a frantic and madcap intention to leave everything we know and everyone we love behind and flee to Canada.

I have written that these histrionics are part of the American progressive ethos. But it’s not really limited to American liberalism; apparently it’s the same the world over:

Reminiscent of the runup to Trump’s election last year, many artists [in France] have said they would prefer exile to living under Le Pen. Like Americans virulently opposed to Trump, they say they are looking to Canada as a refuge.

“Just in case, I’m making plans to move to Quebec,” leftwing comedian Guy Bedos wrote in a book published in March. “I have an absolute aversion for the Le Pen family,” the 82-year-old told AFP…

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, the French-Mauritian author who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2008, said as far back as 2015 that he would hand in his French passport if Le Pen becomes president.

I have to say, leaving France—a country with overrated food and subpar coffee and an unpleasant, nasal, grammatically unstressed mush of a language—is always a worthwhile thing to consider. Still, fleeing France to move 3,000 miles away to Canada feels like a bit of overkill, and even then it’s hardly a change of scenery; Canada is lousy with the French. If you’re coming all that way, why not just emigrate to America? If you settle in a liberal-enough state, you’ll barely even know Trump is president. The only indication will be all the empty houses for sale—the homes once inhabited by liberals who have since fled to Quebec.

It’s Funny Because It’s Deadly True

The feminism that underlines much of American pro-abortion ideology is famously grim and humorless—so much so that they made a great meme out of it—and so you will not be surprised to learn that this little quip from a Missouri lawmaker caused a bit of huffy outrage:

In Missouri, restrictions on abortion providers are so strict that only one clinic in the state can perform abortions: a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. But on the State Senate floor Wednesday, two Republican lawmakers joked that women seeking abortions should go to the St. Louis Zoo because it’s “safer” and more regulated than abortion clinics.

“The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year,” said State Senator Bob Onder to his colleague, State Senator Wayne Wallingford, who added, “Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it’ll be safer.”

Onder then pointed out that zoos have a waiting period of five days before euthanizing animals, whereas Missouri requires women to wait three days after meeting with a doctor to get an abortion.

“Let’s think about this. Babies, it’s three days,” Onder said. “So although there are members of this body who don’t agree with that three days, babies are three days. So zoo animals, it couldn’t be more than 24 hours, right?” He went on, “[It’s] five days, Senator. [And] I believe there’s some sort of requirement to notify in case some other zoo wants to adopt that animal. Isn’t that interesting?”

I’m as manically pro-life as Cecile Richards is pro-abortion, but I have to confess that there is a grim humor to the senator’s point. Our society is rabidly committed to abortion to the point that it’s close to impossible to meaningfully regulate it in any way at all (those “restrictions on abortion clinics” have in fact been blocked by a federal judge and will almost certainly be struck down under Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt). It is thus not all that surprising that, in some narrow instances, a zoo of animals will have more practical protection from death and danger than a building of unborn human beings. The abortion rights machine is singularly opposed to any kind of effective oversight, which is why, say, (a) a butcher like Kermit Gosnell was able to literally get away with murder for years, and (b) the abortion industry averted its eyes and clammed up when Gosnel’s butchery was finally exposed. It’s just the price of doing business.

Advocacy group Progress Missouri was not impressed:

“Not only has he compared women to giraffes and zoo animals, but he has invoked the Holocaust and genocide in reference to a woman’s right to an abortion,” Progress Missouri said in a statement.

For goodness’s sake, the senator did not “compare women to giraffes and zoo animals.” He made an illustrative contrast between the strict animal welfare requirements of the St. Louis Zoo on the one hand and the laxer human welfare requirements of Missouri’s abortion mills on the other. It is very frustrating when your joke falls flat because that one dummy just doesn’t get it. In any case,  it’s true that the comparison between legalized abortion and the Holocaust is kind of inapt; the Holocaust was state-directed genocide, while a legal abortion is state-sanctioned murder. It’s an important contrast to make, chiefly for the sake of pointing out that there is really no corollary at all between genocidal Nazis and abortive women.

Of course, for the victims in this case—those of genocide and of abortion—it makes little difference who is doing the killing and for what reason: in either case the victims are still dead. And it is howling, raving insanity that we allow zoo animals two more extra days to avoid death than we do innocent human beings. In the end it’s no laughing matter.

How to Not Pop a Top for a Cop

Pepsi is clearly the inferior of the two great soft drink monoliths—anyone who says differently is probably trying to sell you Pepsi—and that holds true both as a matter of taste and political presentation. Years ago Coke ran an ad featuring “young people from all over the world” hanging out “on a hilltop in Italy,” singing a goofball hippie song and declaring that Coca-Cola is “the real thing.” For my money there’s no better melding of doofy young hippie culture with corporate avarice. Unfortunately for its bottom line, Pepsi found out that it’s just not that easy to pull off:

Pepsi has apologized for a controversial advertisement that borrowed imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement, after a day of intense criticism from people who said it trivialized the widespread protests against the killings of black people by the police.

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”

The ad, posted to YouTube on Tuesday, shows attractive young people holding milquetoast signs with nonspecific pleas like “Join the conversation.” The protesters are uniformly smiling, laughing, clapping, hugging and high-fiving.

In the ad’s climactic scene, a police officer accepts a can of Pepsi from Kendall Jenner, a white woman, setting off raucous approval from the protesters and an appreciative grin from the officer…

In torrid criticism after the ad was posted, commentators on social media accused Pepsi of appropriating imagery from serious protests to sell its product, while minimizing the danger protesters encounter and the frustration they feel.

It is a rich, syrupy-sweet irony that a commercial asking people to “join the conversation” was yanked from the airwaves due to “torrid criticism.” It’s hard to imagine a more perfect distillation of liberal protest culture these days than the phrase “join the conversation” being met with a rousing chorus of “SHUT THE HELL UP.”

In a sense this is understandable: Pepsi’s ad was stupid, banal, dewy-eyed, awkward cross-generational corporate rapping. It was bound to fail. But in another sense there is something of an injustice at work. Pepsi’s representation of a protest—a group of fist-pumping, overexcited, sign-toting art majors squaring off against police officers for no real discernible reason whatsoever—was in fact an excellent summation of the modern progressive protest ethic, beset as it is by Selma envy: protesting these days is less about accomplishing anything of meaning and more about just protesting for protesting’s sake. Think of the March on Washington, which arguably had a real and measurable impact on the direction of civil rights in this country; now think about the Occupy Wall Street movement, in which a bunch of people got together, slept in parks for a while, and then left. Which one was a movement of consequence? Which one was an excuse to skip work for a few days and smoke weed?

The real reason Pepsi pulled the ad is because, when it comes to social-justice-minded Millennials, as my colleague Bre Payton puts it, “nothing makes them happy.”  Liberalism today, particularly young liberalism, is generally an ideology of reaction, not proaction, or at least it finds its most potent fulfillment in the former, not the latter: it’s more fun for liberals to get angry at a soda advertisement than it is for them to actually do any productive, effective activity. Mounting a practical, society-changing protest or social movement is hard; getting angry and indignant at a crappy soft drink company and talking about the virtues of “bold action” is much, much easier.

Some people took creative approaches to voicing their useless discontent:

Madonna couldn’t help but take a sly swipe at Pepsi after their controversial ad featuring Kendall Jenner was pulled on Wednesday, April 5.

The outspoken star, who had a beef with the brand in the past, threw shade at the soft drink giants by posting a throwback photo of her carrying a can of their rival Coca-Cola.

Madonna, you’ll recall, is the gal who a few months ago expressed a desire to blow up the White House. So a singer who advocated domestic terrorism is upset about an advertisement promoting peace between the people and the state. How exactly is this news?