Canadian Gives Lesson on “Genuine Caring” for the Progressive Age

Anyone inclined to ask why I often speak so disdainfully of my fellow Canadians, or why I’ve increasingly expressed disgust at the thought of returning to my homeland at the end of my Korean working life, need look no further than a column by popular British-Canadian commentator Michael Coren in The Toronto Star, opining about the Charlie Gard case. Coren offers a staggering compendium of half-truths and smug self-righteousness in defense of — well, in defense of that special brand of self-righteous smugness in support of tyranny that Canadians, like all good knee-jerk progressives, call “caring.”

The thrust of Coren’s essay is that evil right-wingers, in particular Christian conservatives, are exploiting Charlie Gard for political purposes, rather than quietly accepting the sad inevitability that sometimes babies die and there’s nothing we can do about it. By framing the story this way — labeling defenders of parental rights as “exploiters” of a dying baby, and alleging that they refuse to accept the tragic reality of death — Coren cleverly (I give him credit for being too smart not to know what he’s doing) evades the actual issue at the center of this case. He has to evade it, as progressives always do, in order to stay mounted on his moral high horse.

For the issue at the center of this case is not whether Charlie Gard’s life can finally be saved, nor whether the dying ought to be preserved on artificial life support forever and ever. The issue is a very plain one, in fact: Who gets to make the final decisions in cases such as this? That is, who ultimately has authority to make decisions about a sick baby’s fate, his parents (who, incidentally, have the deepest vested interest in trying to give him every chance at life) or the State (which has no such vested interest, but very practical interests to the contrary)?

Here’s how you set up a false narrative in order to hide the real essence of a story in favor of using it as a peg on which to hang your personal political rant:

Eleven-month-old Charlie Gard has a terminal medical condition, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a progressive disease….

Numerous doctors have said that death will come soon and that as any further treatment will be pointless and cause the child great suffering, they think it best to discontinue life support.

Perhaps understandably, Charlie’s parents have protested, taken the matter to Britain’s Supreme Court, which supported the doctors, and the European Court of Human Rights, which refused to intervene. Last week a judge said he would allow an American doctor who has used radical treatments to examine Charlie but the original decision still stands. Charlie has a right to die in dignity, the courts concluded, and not become the subject of experimentation.

It’s an excruciating case for the child’s parents but also for the medical staff, who are devoted to saving lives. Yet the family, the doctors, and the lawyers can all hold their heads high, whatever the outcome of what is an issue of parental rights, the well-being of a voiceless child, and the struggle between painful reality and desperate hope.

Where to begin. In light of the sad fact that we all, in a sense, have a “terminal medical condition” (aka life), I will try to keep this autopsy of progressive truths (aka lies) as brief as possible.

Coren begins with the loaded assertion that Charlie has a “terminal” condition, implying that he is doomed from the outset. But a terminal condition is merely one for which there is no certain cure. Hence the parents’ willingness to pursue experimental treatments, i.e., uncertain cures, which Coren demonizes with this twisted sentence: “Charlie has a right to die in dignity, the courts concluded, and not become the subject of experimentation.”

Isn’t “experimentation” how medical science finds new answers to previously unanswerable questions? Someone had to receive the first heart transplant, the first shot of polio vaccine, the first AIDS drug, and so on. And since, vaccines aside, we don’t try experimental treatments on people with no medical condition, it is only natural that those who receive such treatments will often be sick people with no other known medical options, i.e., the desperate or nearly hopeless. This is precisely the sort of situation in which “becoming the subject of experimentation,” if so desired, would be suitable and applicable.

This does not give doctors license to impose experimental treatments on patients against their wishes — particularly if those doctors are employees of the government. (Anyone who cannot see the profound significance of government doctors forcing experimental treatments on private citizens is beyond reach of moral argument, so I will not waste any more time on that topic.) But neither does the government have any moral authority to forbid experimental treatments where the patient or his proper legal guardians have determined that such a path ought to be pursued as a last-ditch effort at survival.

In this case, Charlie Gard’s parents have made such a determination, they are the child’s proper guardians, and they have shown every indication of being extremely conscientious in carrying out their responsibilities as parents. And yet they are being denied their authority as parents and guardians to care for their child to the best of their abilities, on the grounds, quite literally, that Charlie would be better off dead. And whose decision is that to make? For Coren and like-minded progressives, the answer is so cut-and-dried that we can simply elide the question altogether. Of course the State should make that decision, even against the will of actively devoted parents. Why? Because, well, government!

But let’s get back to Coren’s argument: “Numerous doctors have said that death will come soon and…any further treatment will be pointless.” Yes, “numerous doctors” have said this. Meanwhile, other doctors have said there may be hope. Why does Coren assume a position of extreme deference to the judgment of those doctors who are arguing to kill the infant immediately rather than see whether another treatment might help, while implicitly denying the legitimacy or respectability of those doctors — the world’s acknowledged foremost expert on this condition is dismissed as “an American doctor who has used radical treatments” — who would like to try to save the boy? I have an opinion on that question, but in the end Coren will have to answer for his own soul, so I’ll leave it at that.

Then comes his cutest line of all: “Perhaps understandably, Charlie’s parents have protested.”

Yes, “perhaps” we can understand why parents might want to keep their child alive, even when government doctors are telling them to give up. Is it possible to speak with more contempt for Chris Gard and Connie Yates, for parenthood itself, or for the rights of private citizens against the oppressive hand of the State, than Coren expresses with that condescending “perhaps”?

That “perhaps” shines a brilliant light on everything Coren is trying to hide about this case. For Charlie’s parents are not “protesting” against the doctors’ opinions. They are protesting against being refused the right to take their child elsewhere in search of a different prognosis or a new treatment, when they are prepared to pay for it themselves. They are protesting against having their child stolen from them by the government, and then condemned by that government to premature death against their wishes as his parents. They are protesting against tyranny, whether they would see it quite that way themselves or not.

“Perhaps understandably, the slaves keep trying to escape in spite of the free meals and Sunday evenings off.”

“Perhaps understandably, the men and women continue to try to contact each other through the fence, although they have to know they are all headed to the gas chambers soon anyway.”

“Perhaps understandably, Charlie’s parents have protested” against being divested of their parental authority by a government that insists their son should be allowed to die immediately.

Coren insists that “It’s an excruciating case for the child’s parents but also for the medical staff, who are devoted to saving lives.” Are they? Has Coren never heard of palliative care? And what exactly is “death with dignity” as a health care practice? Every hospital in the socialized medical world is torn between those professionals who are genuinely in the saving lives business and those who are in the “death panel” business. Anyone who has spent any time in such a hospital with an infirm loved one has seen this in action. The weak-minded, or those with a vested interest in getting a burdensome loved one out of the way for their own convenience, may not have noticed what that nice lady in the respectable pantsuit was talking about when she spoke to the gathered family about “giving the patient the final say, because family members tend to be emotionally invested in keeping their loved one alive longer than the patient desires. Understandably, of course.”

Coren’s position — spoken like a true Canadian slave of socialized medicine — is that the parents are wrong and irrational, but we can tolerate that, as long as the government gets to make the final decision in spite of them. What makes a normal and intelligent man speak so disdainfully of the lives and moral struggles of his fellow men? Being blinded by an agenda, that’s what.

Suggesting that the British doctors and lawyers who are denying Charlie’s parents their responsibility and attempting to deny Charlie a last hope at survival, are on equal moral footing with the parents, or even above them since the parents are motivated by emotion rather than reason, Coren now gets to his real point:

Other people, however, have not been so ethical. Judges and doctors have been threatened and abused, various conservative Christian groups have tried to take ownership of the tragedy, and even President Donald Trump has intervened, tweeting that, “If we can help little Charlie Gard as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”

Presidents, popes, and religious people are conveniently lumped together with random weirdos who have threatened and abused doctors, in order to summarily condemn all critics of the British government’s actions as unethical.

Coren tells us Trump’s tweeted support for the British people who massively oppose the hospital’s decision is “irresponsible” and “insensitive” as it “interferes with the legal and moral findings of medical experts and legal scholars in another country.” How does it interfere with their findings? What would that even mean? It means nothing, of course. Or rather it means what progressives always mean, when push comes to shove: If you don’t abide by the directives of progressive authoritarian right-thinking, then you are unethical, unfeeling, “irresponsible,” “insensitive” — in short, obsolete.

But Trump is the real issue here for Coren. Dying babies are of no consequence to Coren, but merely useful tools to be exploited in the effort to score rhetorical points against “conservatives.”

For it is “ironic,” Coren tells us, that Trump should express support for Charlie Gard “as he removes medical insurance from millions of Americans.”

Aha! This is about socialized medicine. How dare a man who would deny government health care to millions of people claim to care about a dying baby. You see, no one who opposes government-run health care cares about people or their lives. You see, socialism is the only moral position. You see, opposition to socialism equals immorality, not to mention hypocrisy if such an immoral person should dare to express compassion for another human being. Compassion, you see, equals progressive authoritarianism. Spoken like a true Canadian! God, I’m sick of self-righteous mouthpieces for tyranny.

By the way, I have rarely if ever spoken a positive word about Donald Trump, and have in fact been one of his loudest and most consistent critics from day one of his sham of a political career. As for Pope Francis, my contempt for him is, if anything, just slightly deeper than my contempt for Trump. But in this particular case, both men happen to be on the right side of history — the losing side, unfortunately, but the right side nonetheless, and the side that will be vindicated in the grand scheme of things. In five hundred years, if there are still humans on this Earth, they will be looking at our time with a combination of befuddlement and disgust. And I feel mighty sure their disgust won’t be aligned with that of Michael Coren, who finds it just outrageous that some of us have been so brutal as to describe people who get paid to coercively remove babies from their parents’ control in order to terminate them as “baby-killers” and “murderers.” After all, removing babies from their parents’ control in order to terminate them is just a new specialty in the noble profession of “saving lives.” (Bureaucratic accounting division.)

Back to Coren’s straw-man argument:

And here’s the point. While people are moved by this story and feel impotent and angry, most are reasonable and know that such things simply happen. The terrible is sometimes inevitable.

“Such things simply happen.” What things? Why is it reasonable to accept “such things,” and by implication unreasonable to object to them or try to prevent them? Because “the terrible is sometimes inevitable.” What is “the terrible” in this case? That babies sometimes have incurable illnesses? But who was objecting to that? Who could object to that?

No, what people are objecting to, to state the obvious once again, is that the British government or the European Court of Human Rights has any legitimate authority to refuse to permit Charlie’s parents to remove him from the hospital and take him (at their own expense) to the world’s foremost expert in Charlie’s condition in order to try an experimental treatment that might improve his chances of living. They are objecting to the implication, which in this case has become as overt a declaration as you will ever see, that under socialized medicine, the government owns your material life, i.e., you — that under socialism, you are property of the State. If Michael Coren wants to defend that position — which he clearly does — then he ought to at least have the courage to come out and state it openly. But instead he tries to hide his defense of tyranny behind obfuscating, ad hominem, and flat-out disingenuous arguments about being compassionate and reasonable. O, Canada.

Many of the leaders of the Christian protest are intensely conservative, which is of course why Donald Trump rushed to their cause. Cutting foreign aid, expelling refugees, and increasing military budgets are fine but on no account must we allow Charlie Gard to die.

Get the point? Conservatives bad, socialists good. Islamophobia bad, burying one’s head in the sand about Islamic radicalism good. Military defense bad, submission to one-world progressivism good. And against all those higher abstract goods, what’s the importance of one dying baby anyway? Let him die. (I.e., make him die.) Yup, that pretty much sums up the fight between liberty and progressivism, as we now have it. 

I only wish Donald Trump were on the side of this fight to which Coren assigns him.

Those who support the hospital and courts are called “baby-killers” and “murderers,” and the plight of a dying baby is said to represent the Christian struggle against decadence and atheism. It must be so agonizing for those who genuinely care.

Ah, yes, “for those who genuinely care.” In other words, all those conservatives making a stink over this case are just fake carers. To genuinely care, by contrast, entails complying with the legal and moral findings of our betters in the government.

Honest question: “genuinely care” about what? Likeliest answer: about nothing. Just “care.” Caring — not about a principle, an individual life, or the soul, but just abstract “caring” — is the highest, the only, virtue. A progressive “cares.” A non-progressive resists the call to abstract “caring” in favor of ideas, principles, and the dignity — the real dignity, not defined by death in a hospital but by life as an independent being — of the human soul.

Michael Coren is a very bright man. History is strewn with very bright men who were dead wrong about the most important things. Compassion without portfolio — abstract “caring” as a moral principle — is a progressive ruse, the path to despotism, and pure…Canadiana. 

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