Now for my next prosaic trick: contradict everything I just wrote! Just call me Jensen Rubin. Collecting a steady paycheck for polemically pratfalling every week? There are worse ways to make a living—working at CNN for instance.
No public affairs writer wants to pull a brazen about-face, hence my upfront disclaimer. So, reader, beware: wooly-headed columnist trying to pull one over on you… or am I? HA HA HA HA! *Tries laughing mischievously in Halloween.* Well, you all know what laughter sounds like.
Consider this not a full-heel turn, but a qualification. Politics is necessary to expose the elites to what us middle class wretches feel. But there’s such a thing as too much politicking, and not in the hyper democratic sense Tocqueville feared. (The Frenchman also said Americans “don’t converse; they argue.” Imagine had he lived to see the advent of Facebook!) Politics is a byword for argumentation, and when confounded with a dash of wokeness, a splash of econo-egalitarianism, a pinch of multicultural obsession, and a few crumbled pages from White Fragility, it creates a potent and intoxicating brew. The concoction packs more of progressive pique than a vegan green smoothie. And, of course, leads to disputatious dickering that can stymie actual action.
A recent case study: the underground abortifacient railroad. A quick disclaimer for all those whose faces screw tighter than a constipated troll upon hearing the a-word: this column takes no stance, morally, ethically, or otherwise, on the practice of premature utero-clearing. I’m personally pro-life but have ascended to an Archimedean point in order to observe a sub-battle raging within our kickstarted abortion wars.
The new squabble starts with American colonizers in Mexico. And by colonizers, I mean well-to-do retirees. Locally known as the “Old Hippies,” these white-haired, Margaret Atwood-reading, gringa grandmas are subverting American law by smuggling misoprostol and mifepristone north of the border for further distribution deep into red states, especially Texas. Think: “Breaking Bad” with Bea Arthur as Han Solo.
Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states have regressed (or progressed backwards, depending on your view) to foeticide proscriptions passed decades earlier. In effect, this doesn’t just mean banning the operation, but also a prohibition on posting pregnancy-termination pills.
Boomer expats to the rescue! Based primarily in Guanajuato, with assistance from established abortion activist Verónica Cruz, the Old Hippies, noticing that the one-two womb-punching pill pack was still cheaply available in Mexico, resolved to deliver the drugs to needy women in the US. After the Dobbs decision, Hippie volunteers “slipped enough medication across the border to help two thousand American women have abortions.” Take that, Christian theocrats! That’s two-thousand less future lefties you’ll have to push around!
What’s that apocryphal phrase from Bastiat? When abortion-seekers can’t cross borders, abortifacient couriers will?
Normally—as in, during the post-war liberal heyday of the Warren Court and Civil Rights Act—these graying lawbreakers would be lauded for their defiant courage. But the report on their tenebrous scheme raises uncomfortable questions about their intentions, outcomes, and—surprise!—skin color.
Reporter Stephania Taladrid details one Fremdschämen-inducing scene where lead Hippie “Claire” innocently asks a friend to surreptitiously convey a clutch of the progesterone-preventers across the border. “I have Global Entry. I’ve never been stopped by customs in my life,” she assures the would-be scofflaw. But the acquaintance rebuffs the request with a simple rejoinder: “I’m Black. I can’t do that. Isn’t that obvious to you?”
Oh bugger! Letting the racialist veil slip like that could spell doom for our well-meaning aborto-pill runner. Imagine an activist so dedicated to women’s lib that she’s blind to intersectional injustices like driving-while-black-and-drug-smuggling-across-international-borders-breaking-multiple-laws. Didn’t Claire check the hierarchy of oppression chart before she—a hetero white woman—asked a black woman for a favor? If Nikole Hannah-Jones gets word, she might do a front page shame-spread in the Times. Or worse, leverage the tale into a best-selling tract, with proceeds donated to the New York City branch of Planned Parenthood, where the black abortion rate exceeds births. Black lives matter indeed!
Naive blindness to racial dynamics is bad enough, but the Hippies also have to contend with the iron law of economics: supply and demand. As in, the more supplies of abortion M&Ms they gobble up from small Mexican pharmacies to ship stateside, the more expensive the plan-c pills are to natives. Now we get to the real woke dilemma: who deserves preg-preclusion caplets more? Wealthy Americans or poor Mexicans? The Hippies’ efforts have already borne inflationary fruit. Taladrid notes the result: “clearing the shelves on behalf of Americans and, in the process, jacking up the price of abortion for Mexican women.” This, asserts Taladrid, is “an ethical dilemma that some of Cruz’s associates had yet to think deeply about.”
The insolence! The ignorance! The utter gall of these Hippies! Taking concrete steps to extend cheap abortion poppers without mentating upon the complex web of identity status? Hadn’t they considered the knock-on effects of their labor? Hadn’t they “done the work” in dissecting their own white-tainted motives, and the undergirding oppression of the Westphalian national-sovereignty system? Obviously, they didn’t leaf through Audre Lorde’s oeuvre before defying multiple layers of legal jurisdiction.
The Old Hippies neglected to meticulously check off grievance-group demands before tackling an injustice. This leaves them on the outs with hardcore progressives, who demand every marginalized “t” is crossed and every oppressed “i” is dotted before lifting a finger. The predicament is similar to gay rights activist Fred Sargeant, who, despite participating in the Stonewall Riots, was mercilessly beaten by his fellow out-and-prouders for being insufficiently pro-transgender.
Let this be a lesson: no good progressive deed goes unpunished, or ruthlessly interrogated for crypto-conservative motives. “The quest for clean hands, if pursued without due regard for our responsibilities, can be a culpable form of moral vanity,” observed Nigel Biggar. The wokesters would rather “out-woke” each other than solve practical problems.
More power to their righteousness. I say that with all the encouragement of one who wishes their failure.