Why I Gave Up Abolitionism: A Satire

Why I Gave Up Abolitionism: A Satire

“Non-slave owning businesses have been steadily growing in recent years,” according to radical abolitionist Frederick Douglas.

The strident civil rights leader says more white men are choosing to free their slaves and switch to wage labor, or are in the process allowing former slaves full control of their bodies and their work.

But while some people going cold turkey and leaving slavery behind, some abolitionists are making the choice to return to the slave market.

John and his wife stopped owning slaves in 1824 at the age of 25, when living on a plantation in rural Mississippi.

But 30 some years later, the couple decided to return to owning slaves for financial and psychological health reasons.

“We used to see the slaves being bought and sold on the market and both of us thought we should stop.”

“We started looking at indentured servitude and were really expanding our cultural horizons from our upbringing in the South.”

“When the abolitionists came out and told us about humane treatment and wages, we thought, why the heck not?”

As time passed, however, the couple saw their financial and psychological health worsen and wondered what might be the cause.

“I suffered from major financial losses and workplace disputes for almost 20 years,” said John.

“Every time I made the decision pay black people, a piece of me would die inside until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I was giving away my heritage.”

“Any time my wife brought up the subject over dinner, I felt so disgusted that I had to leave the house.”

He also started to feel a growing sense of compassion and moral responsibility that his slave-owning friends did not, which made him worry that something was wrong with him.

His wife was also suffering with melancholy and hysteria from having to do some of the housework, and they both felt it was time for a change.

“She said to me it was not that we were owning slaves, but that we weren’t owning slaves.”

“At first I was skeptical about it, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.”

The transformation that took place was almost instantaneous. Within a few days, John started to feel better and all his workplace squabbles and financial troubles all but disappeared. His wife also became less melancholy.

“When you have been an abolitionist for almost 30 years, it becomes part of who you are,” he said.

“At first I felt the pangs of guilt from returning to a morally repugnant practice that I would never subject myself to, but me and my wife had a long talk about it and decided that we wanted to put our financial and psychological health above the dignity and moral consideration of black people.”

The couple are still against cruel slavery practices and are careful to treat their slaves with kindness and respect.

“I think about what my grandfather would have said about people being abolitionists,” said John. “He would have called it a bunch of nonsense.”

“Now we are going back to tradition: to how things were before we got too crazy about feeling compassion for our fellow human beings.”

Ethel from Kentucky had been an abolitionist for nearly a decade before she returned to owning slaves. However, she never expected her decision would help with her repressed appetite for human cruelty.

“I became an abolitionist because I was told I had a moral backbone,” she said.

“I have been a devout Christian all my life and decided to become an abolitionist because of my alleged feelings about the evils of slavery.”

At first, Ethel was happy with the effects of her decision, as it helped her clear up her conscience, but as time went on she became irritable and socially withdrawn from doing the right thing.

“I remember being teased I went out in public so I just stopped talking. I also got angry quickly when I saw other humans being treated like property.”

“I didn’t yet understand that it was my repressed desire to see powerless, mutilated black bodies that was making me feel this way.”

A decade later, Ethel began craving the brutality of tortured, helpless black people, and she started to secretly keep one or two slaves locked in her room.

Later that year, she was found out by her husband who told her this was a sign they should go back to owning slaves.

“I feel healthier now that I’ve completely discarded my moral compass and embraced backwards cultural norms,” said Ethel.

“I wish I could live without slavery, but I no longer believe that abolitionism is healthy.”

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The Boy with the Magic Box: A Short Story

The Boy with the Magic Box: A Short Story

On his 5th birthday a boy was given a magic box. It was plain and brown on the outside and had all the appearance of a normal box, only his parents told him that it wasn’t. They told him that his box was special and powerful, for inside it was the source of all goodness in the world.

They told him that this special box would guide him throughout his life. It would listen to his thoughts, grant him wishes, comfort him during hard times, and fill his heart with joy. However, his parents also warned him to never open the box, for they knew this would destroy the magic within. And so from a young age, the boy readily obeyed his parents for fear of ruining such a precious gift.

As the boy grew older, however, there were often times when the magic nature of the box was called into question. Sometimes the boy wished for Christmas presents that never came, for people at school to talk to him that never did, or for a dad that wouldn’t drink so much. And yet, despite these trials, the boy came to rely on the box even more and grew more certain of its magic.

He was so sure he had done something to anger the box so that it didn’t work right. Maybe he had been too careless with it. Maybe the magic flew out when he had accidentally dropped it. And so the boy began to spend more time in his room talking to the box. It gave him a sense of comfort that he enjoyed so much that he decided to take the box with him wherever he went.

Soon he was a teenager who carried his box with a sense of certainty and pride. He would bring it to school and to work for everyone to see. He would sit with it during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He would even take it to bed to sleep with at night. Although people would often joke with him and tease him about his box, he knew they just couldn’t see what he saw. They could not sway his mind or break his spirit, for he had a truth that none of them could touch. He had experienced firsthand the influence of the magic box in his life.

It wasn’t until college that things began to change. He still walked around with his box, but somehow he was less confident and self-assured. Maybe it was his professors or the courses he took, but he found himself dwelling more and more on the mystery of the box – as if it was a puzzle that had to be solved once and for all. The more he thought about it, the more suspect the box’s nature became and the less he felt its power in his life.

One day as a kind of field trip he visited a warehouse with his classmates. The warehouse was full of boxes of all different colors, shapes, and sizes from different regions of the world. He found it interesting at first, but then something unexpected happened. To his utter shock and horror, his professor told the class that all of these boxes in storage had been there for thousands of years, and that each of them was once thought to be magic by the people that lived during the time they were made.

In that moment the boy looked down at his own box – no longer with a sense of reverence or comfort, but a sense of creeping doubt. Had the source of comfort and joy throughout his life merely been an old piece of cardboard? It was almost too much for him to take.

Later that night he began to investigate the history of the box his parents had given him. He found the exact measurements and learned when and where it was made. He even traced it back to the original manufacturer and emailed the company asking questions. At first he was convinced that he would find some proof of its magical qualities, but the deeper he dug and the more books he read, the less confident he became.

When dawn finally broke through the library window where he had been up studying all night, he decided to do the unthinkable: he made up his mind that he would open the box and take a look inside. He knew that he shouldn’t, but he was truly desperate for answers.

As he reached for the cardboard flaps that were taped shut, a mixture of fear and excitement took hold of him. As he slowly pulled back the tape he could see the anger in his father’s eyes and hear his mother’s voice crying softly: “Don’t do it, son.” And yet he was doing it. He had pulled back one of the cardboard flaps. Tears streamed down his face as he stared into the open hole, but he couldn’t see a thing. It was then that the sunlight shifted ever so slightly, slowly spilling over the bottom of the box. He waited with baited breath. It was empty.

“Empty.” He said the word aloud.

It was a heavy word. Heavy and hollow, like a dugout canoe that had suddenly sprung a leak. He felt himself sink into his chair as childhood memories played back in his mind, analyzing each one with cold rationality. He felt the unshakable power of the box magic begin to shrink and dissolve, like paper he accidentally threw in the wash. The magic was gone.

Years passed and the young man grew angry and bitter. He felt betrayed on a level he could not express. He wanted to run into the warehouse and burn every single box to the ground. He wanted to scream at his parents at the top of his lungs. He wanted the world to feel the ache of his pain and know the depth of his loss. Sometimes he would even spot people walking down the street with boxes just as he did, and would purposely knock them out of their hands just to see the shocked look on their faces.

Eventually he grew tired of being angry and bitter and began to take solitary walks in the park to calm his mind. On these walks he would reflect on his past and try his best to see the good and the hope through the pain and ugliness of life. He no longer had the will or energy to go on hating, but instead devoted his mind to his own self-improvement and to the improvement of mankind.

One day, as the man was walking in the park he spotted a young boy sitting on a nearby bench. The boy was holding a plain cardboard box just as he had done – the look of calm assurance washing over his hopeful face. The man slowed his pace and glanced at the boy. He reminded him too much of himself, he thought, and so he stopped to say hello.

“That’s a fine box you’ve got there,” the man said.

“It sure is!” the boy replied.

“I’m bet your parents told you it was magic.”

The boy looked surprised.

“How did you know?” the boy asked him.

“I was told the same thing when I was young.”

“Then were is your box now?” the boy inquired.

“I threw it away,” said the man.

The boy looked even more shocked this time.

“Why would you do that?!”

“I found a different kind of magic.”

“Really? What kind is that?”

“The kind of magic that can’t fit in a box like yours, no matter the shape or color. The kind of magic that wells up from deep inside and grows larger and taller than the trees and higher than the highest clouds; the kind of magic that stretches to the stars and beyond until it covers the whole universe with love.”

The young boy looked back at the man and scrunched up his tiny face as if he was thinking very hard. Suddenly he blurted out a response.

“I got it! My box is too small!”

“What?” asked the man, perplexed.

“My box is too small. I just need to make a bigger one; one that will cover everything like you said.”

The man laughed heartily as if he had not laughed in years. When he was finished laughing he sat down next to the boy and put his hand on his shoulder.

“In that case, do you mind if I help?” he asked. “I happen to know a thing or two about boxes.”

“Okay,” said the boy. “Let’s build it together.”

 

Parenting Among the Fantasa: A Brief Ethnography

Parenting Among the Fantasa: A Brief Ethnography

Parenting was hard for the ancient Fantasa people. Everything they tried seemed to fail. In fact, this inability to raise children was so deeply-ingrained in the culture that the Fantasa even had a famous saying: Raising a child is like trying to start a fire in the rain.

However, this failure wasn’t due to a lack of caring or persistence among the Fantasa, but was largely the result of a lack of knowledge and a preference for tradition. While there were a few exceptions, most of the Fantasa’s early parenting methods were quite crude cruel by our standards, and ironically ended up hurting the very children they were trying to raise.

Like many tribes of their time, the Fantasa held a strong belief in demon possession. Thus, whenever a child would misbehave, they would not see it as an act of childhood rebellion, but as a cosmic battle where evil spirits needed to be immediately exercised from the child’s body.

Perhaps the most commonly practiced method when a child was assumed to be possessed was to violently assault them with a sturdy household object until the child screamed aloud in pain. For the Fantasa, the child’s scream was a sign that the demon had finally left the body. If no screaming occurred, they believed the demon would remain.

As one could imagine, this lead to many unnecessary welts, bumps, bruises, and cuts, and psychological trauma on the Fantasa children, and in rare cases resulted in permanent injury or death. If the children lived long enough not to be seriously traumatized by the experience, they would pass on this same practice to their own children, resulting in a never-ending cycle of violence.

Understandably, the children who then grew up to pass on this strange practice, much like their forebears, were so desensitized to the inherent violence of the act and believed so strongly in its effectiveness that that they were unable to see the practice for what it was.

Another peculiar belief that the Fantasa had possessed was that children could only be good if they were taught to believe in the ancient stories of the elders from birth. Although all of the stories were quite incredible, contradictory, and full of magic spells, invisible worlds, and endless pits of fire, the Fantasa insisted that children would grow up without a strong sense virtue if they failed to believe these fantastical stories were true.

Once these stories were believed, the Fantasa would  then use them as a parenting tool, constantly reminding their innocent children of the stories which told them how evil they were and threatened them with the endless pit of fire. By doing this early and often, the Fantasa thought they were helping the children by guarding them against demons that might corrupt them.

A third peculiar belief among the Fantasa held was that humans were born with an excess amount of energy which needed to be contained for them to grow into adults. For the Fantasa, the only way to deal with this excess energy was to keep large groups of children locked inside a dark room for long periods of time each day. Here the children would sit in silence, unable to talk to each other or ask questions.

During this time, if any of the children dared stand up to stretch their muscles or speak, they were subject to public humiliation by one of the tribal elders in front of the entire group. It was thought that after many years of this practice, the energy of the children would diminish as they became more accustomed to the practice.

Although most Fantasa children that fell victim to these strange and barbaric practices grew up to be more violent, more insecure, and less curios of the world around them, there were still a few children that managed to break free from the cycle of violence and trauma as they grew into adulthood. Although initially shunned by the older members of the tribe, their beliefs which they passed down to their children gradually came to be favored as the elders of the tribe noticed a significant decline in tribal warfare and a decrease in family dysfunction.

As time passed with each new generation, the belief in demon possession slowly faded among the Fantasa. Soon they no longer had use for physical violence against children; nor did they threaten them with fantastical stories or make them sit still in dark, silent rooms where their spirit was forced into blind obedience.

Inquiry and self-exploration among Fantasa children, once met with shame and derision by the tribe, came to be seen as cornerstones of Fantasa culture. Acts of childish rebellion once labeled as evil came to be expected, and were dealt with kindly but firmly by parents. Even the innocent act of play, once mocked for its strange and disruptive quality, was considered the beginning of wisdom.

The Chosen People

The Chosen People

In Nazi-ville everything appeared quite normal. Gone were the days of synagogue burning and lynching, for the hatred of the Nazis was a kinder, gentler kind of hatred. The rivers of blood that once filled the streets were replaced by rose gardens, and the exclusion of inferior races from public life was thought to be quite old-fashioned by the new guard of progressive Nazis.

In these happier days a Jewish or black citizen of Nazi-ville could walk down the street without fearing for their life. They could even attend Nazi meetings and discuss the works of Adolf Hitler with Aryans. You see, the new Nazi guard was convinced that the Fuhrer’s words were divinely inspired, but that they had simply been misunderstood by the masses – much like Marx or Nietzsche were after their deaths.

Of course, this new brand of Nazism was considered heresy by the old guard, for the old guard had been taught to take the words of Hitler quite literally, while the new guard took a more figurative approach. This generational discord would often make for heated arguments at family gatherings or seasonal rallies in which one Nazi would accuse another of being a fake Nazi.

However, there was one thing both generations shared: the unshakable belief that they were a divinely chosen people, superior to all other races. To what degree and extent this superiority manifested itself was a matter of debate, but the fact remained that they were higher beings, and that God had appointed them to rule over the inferior races of the earth. This could not be doubted.

Nazism, after all, was a pernicious ideology which was passed from one generation to the next – even among non-Aryan families. It was easy to see why so many believed it. It presented the world in simple but fantastic terms, bestowing enormous confidence and self-importance on the believer. Consequently, many of the schools, churches, and hospitals of the day reflected this worldview, resulting in a strange mixture of compassion and outright bigotry.

At the largest Nazi rallies in Nazi-ville, one could feel a sense of awe about the crowds as they saluted the sky and fervently chanted the Furher’s name. In those ecstatic moments when the noise would reach a fever pitch, some Nazis would enter a trance-like state, surrendering their minds to the awesome power of the collective. Such events were considered by many to be proof of the Furher’s divine nature, confirming the truth of the Aryan race.

In the old days of Nazi-ville, Nazis would often hunt down and kill those who did not accept Nazism, but now things were different. Whenever Nazis during this time were confronted by doubts or arguments that went against their deeply-held beliefs in Aryan superiority or the divinity of Hitler, they would employ a plethora of mental tricks taught from birth to blind themselves to the truth; for to admit they were wrong would mean the end of their glorious cause, the erasure of their identity, and the destruction of the cosmic fable that placed them at the center of the universe.

As for the surrounding non-Nazi towns and cities, rather than becoming horrified and taking steps to intervene, they instead looked on the people of Nazi-ville with a mixture of awe and pity, for Nazism was a long and rich tradition that spanned hundreds of years. Who were they to relieve these people of such a rich and beautiful fable that gave meaning to so many lives? As citizens of more enlightened States, these non-believers surmised that once the Nazis of the holocaust were forgotten and the not-so-friendly passages of Hitler were thought of as non-essential or metaphorical, true Nazism could finally be established – unhindered by fundamentalism and completely compatible with modern civilization.

Letters from the Mothership: An Extraterrestrial Correspondence

Letters from the Mothership:  An Extraterrestrial Correspondence

I.

My dear Doomron,

Although I applaud you for your persistence, remember that the human species is far less rational than our own. I therefore must urge you to avoid logical arguments, for this will only confuse them – or worse, lead them to the truth. Instead, try to appeal to their ego and their fears – especially their fear of death. Nonexistence is particularly frightening to them. Be sure to spend a good deal of time convincing them of their special place in the universe – preferably through various elaborate, beautiful fables that appeal to their emotions. Humans always love a good story. At any rate, they mustn’t be allowed to know their origin.

– Galacticus

II.

My dear Doomron,

I am pleased to note that you have been successful with your stories. A growing number of humans now believe that they have been specially created, and that they are made of a substance separate from the material world. How easily they are convinced! I should point out, however, that this is only a small victory. In order to ensure the survival of these beliefs, be sure to convince them to pass their stories down their offspring – preferably at the age of infancy when humans are most vulnerable. Over time this will ensure a high population of humans that will not question.

– Galacticus

III.

My dear Doomron,

Our plan seems to be running rather smoothly. The majority of humans are now sworn believers, and many different stories now populate the earth. However, if the goal of self-destruction is to be achieved in a timely manner, you must go further. You must now appeal to their tribal nature – to their fear and hatred of those who believe differently. This will result in considerable bloodshed, especially now that each tribe is convinced they hold the truth.

– Galacticus

IV.

My dear Doomron,

Unfortunately, despite the wars you earnestly helped initiate, much of the human race remains. And even worse, there is a growing a minority of humans that are losing faith in your stories. Some are also beginning to take an increased interest in pursuing knowledge and science. This is not the result I had hoped for. Still, I believe we have time to correct our mistake. I therefore implore you to change tactics and take a subtler approach. See to it that these fables work their way into literature, philosophy, and science so they might be presented as sophisticated and respectable truths. The march of science and reason must be delayed at all costs.

– Galacticus

V.

My dear Doomron,

It is refreshing to hear some good news for a change. Your weaving of your stories into human culture has worked out quite nicely. Many are now using your stories to justify enslaving millions of other humans and are actively preventing others from enjoying equal rights. This is indeed a good sign.

– Galacticus

VI.

My dear Doomron,

I am greatly displeased to hear that humans have discovered evolution. How could this happen on your watch? We haven’t had a discovery this disastrous since Copernicus. I fear the very concept of God is now in jeopardy. Our best hope is to suggest that the divine inhabits smaller and smaller sections of the universe. This should help to slow the process of enlightenment.

– Galacticus

VII.

My dear Doomron,

I regret to learn that the human race continues to thrive, despite engaging in two World Wars, and is developing new technologies with increasing speed. And you say some have even begun to send small machines into space? This is most distressing. It’s clear that our final chance for total annihilation lies in the power of nuclear weapons. There are still isolated groups of humans that are willing to die for your stories. See what you can do about this.  Time is running out.

– Galacticus

 

 

 

 

We Are All Dr. Johnny Wilcox: A Character Analysis from Okja

We Are All Dr. Johnny Wilcox: A Character Analysis from Okja

Dr. Johnny Wilcox is an absurd and repulsive character. His voice is grating, his wardrobe is a nightmare, his behavior is borderline cartoonish, and his constant whining is almost unbearable. And yet, despite all these qualities, he’s probably the most intriguing character of the film.

But why? I mean, what does this whiny, selfish, over-the-top-man-child-scientist-meets-Jeff Corwin offer us that the other characters don’t?

Well, for one, he’s the only character who isn’t completely one-dimensional or predictable. Lucy and Nancy Mirando are clearly cut-throat capitalists with no consciences, The ALF members behave exactly how you’d expect them to, and Mija is the innocent girl who just wants her giant animal friend back.

So where does Dr. Johnny Wilcox fit in among the list of cookie-cutter corporate bad guys versus honorable vigilante good guys? The answer is that he really doesn’t.

Unlike other characters, we think we know who Johnny Wilcox is until we realize we don’t. We are immediately thrown off by his odd behavior and voice. We cringe at his child-like temper tantrums and his pathetic impotence. We are annoyed by his entitled attitude and the shameless artificiality of his media personality. And yet we are still left with one giant question: Who the hell is Johnny Wilcox?

Is he a respected doctor or a complete loser? Is he a famous media figure or a laughing stock? Is he a lackey for the Mirando Corporation or a hapless victim of it? Does he really love animals or does he only love himself?

If the answers to these questions seem unclear, it’s probably due to the seemingly psychotic nature of the character himself. Indeed, throughout the entire movie Wilcox seems to be engaged in a deep internal struggle as he oscillates between exploited scientist and confident showman, bungling buffoon and sympathetic drunk, caring human and callous monster.

The first example of this psychotic nature can be seen in the character’s first reveal roughly twenty minutes into the film as he arrives on the top of the mountain where Mija lives, accompanied by his media crew and another scientist. Upon arriving, Wilcox Immediately shows his selfish, entitled attitude as he starts to complain about how far he had to hike, even accusing his crew of trying to “rile” him.

This is soon followed by an unsuccessful and unpermitted foray into Mija’s grandfather’s refrigerator before he gags at the smell and asks for water, but instead grabs one of her grandfather’s beers (again without asking) and unthinkingly guzzles it down. In this way, Wilcox makes it clear that he is the center of attention, whereas everything and everybody around him his simply background – a means to achieving his own selfish ends.

However, a second later within the very same scene, Wilcox immediately stops what he is doing and approaches Okja with a real sense of wonder and awe, placing his hand gently on her nose. For a brief moment, Wilcox snaps out of his self-obsession as he gently strokes Okja’s body and rests his face against her side, appearing to have a deep and meaningful connection with her that nearly brings him to tears. However, this connection is short-lived as it is immediately interrupted by Wilcox’s demand for his crew to “fucking film” him, remarking that, “You can’t fake these emotions.”

The second and perhaps the most memorable Jekyl-and-Hyde-esque moment in the film takes place in the laboratory. Here Wilcox is can first be seen sauntering drunkenly down the hallway and crawling beneath a large metal door as what can only be described as creepy carnival music plays in the background.

In the first few moments of this scene, Wilcox’s actions are more reminiscent of Jack Nicolson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance than anything else. Here he cackles madly and playfully waves his hands at Okja, goading her out of her secure cell so that she can meet her “boyfriend” – a horny male superpig that he essentially allows to rape her.

But strangely, in the scene just after the horrible act is complete, it’s abundantly clear that Wilcox is deeply remorseful and sympathetic to Okja’s plight, as he lies down beside her and offers her alcohol to numb the pain, just as he tries to numb his own. Here again, Wilcox’s humanity is revealed in an important but fleeting moment as he pathetically rolls over on the laboratory floor crying loudly and exclaiming to Okja, “This is an unspeakable place!…I know! I know!”

Of course, after this display of sympathy and kinship (much like their first encounter), Wilcox abruptly goes back to being self-absorbed, complaining that he won’t get to taste any of Okja’s meat right before switching back to his knowing, compassionate side: “I shouldn’t be here…I’m an animal lover…everybody knows that about me!”

So, what are we to make of all this strange behavior? What exactly is the point?

My own take is that Wilcox’s tormented character is meant to externalize the internal psychological and emotional struggle that many of us have regarding animals, and to thus make visible the very real cognitive dissonance (as well as the ugliness and cruelty) that most of us unknowingly or knowingly take part in when we sit down at the dinner table.

In other words, although we may be repulsed by Wilcox’s actions and behavior in the film, the hard truth is that most of us are Johnny Wilcox when it comes to our relationship with animals.

Like Wilcox, most of us have been raised to be self-centered by viewing other living creatures around us as objects rather than subjects – a means to fulfill our own ends. We have also been taught that it is perfectly acceptable to kill and eat other living beings (even highly intelligent ones like Okja) for taste rather than necessity, all the while lying to ourselves (or being lied to) about where our meat comes from and how it is procured.

Also like Wilcox, it is only through our brief interactions with our fellow-sentient beings in the form of pets, zoos, and wildlife excursions that feelings of compassion, kinship, sympathy, and guilt can rise up within us, only to be later discarded from our minds when we unthinkingly stuff a burger into our face.

Many of us also like to think highly of our ourselves and our own self-image. We publicly claim to be animal lovers – some of us even going so far as to buy bumper stickers proclaiming our love – while privately engaging in their destruction on our dinner plate. Perhaps the only meaningful difference between Wilcox and most people in the real world when it comes to animals is that Wilcox is forced to confront the full extent of his moral inconsistency, whereas most people cannot or will not.

Wilcox knows full well that he is putting on a charade when he plays his TV persona of the “animal lover” because he is deeply familiar with the ugliness and cruelty that lies beneath the surface. He is a man that genuinely seems to love animals, yet he still can’t seem to escape his complicity in their suffering and death or conquer his craving for their flesh. In the end, his ego always seems to win out over his morals.

Unlike the other villains in the film who appear sociopathic,  Dr. Johnny Wilcox is somehow different – appearing more human than monster. In the best possible light, he is a pathetic fallen hero who once had a moral backbone and a successful career, and at the very worst he is a cowardly, buffoonish, and reluctant villain who has not quite lost his humanity. At any rate, it’s clear that he has a conscience of some kind, even if that conscience is engaged in a losing battle with his job, his taste, and perhaps most of all – his desire to be liked by others.

But again, isn’t this all of us? Don’t we often prioritize our pleasure and ego over another animal’s well-being? Don’t we opt for being liked by others over being viewed as an outcast for doing the right thing? Don’t we all dissociate the meat we consume from the reality of factory farming? Haven’t we all, to some degree, been forced by large corporations to be complicit in animal suffering? Haven’t we all felt powerless against these large corporations and against our desire to consume the very creatures we love?

At the end of the day, if we are truly repulsed by Dr. Johnny Wilcox, we must first admit that he is merely a reflection of ourselves and our relationship with animals. If we dare admit to this disturbing reality and are willing to fully acknowledge the person in the mirror, then we are ultimately left with a two choices: we can either get angry and smash the mirror, or we can change our eating habits so that the mirror better reflects who we want to see.

The Happy Camp: A Brief Dialogue

The Happy Camp: A Brief Dialogue

A German officer sits alone in an office outside a large concentration camp. He is tired from a long day of looking after Jews and ensuring all the Fuhrer’s orders are followed to the letter. Suddenly the phone rings. Half asleep and bothered, he picks up the receiver. To his astonishment, he hears the Fuhrer’s voice on the other end.

FUHRER: I hear the others are beginning to worry about our camps. There is a lot of talk about possible inhumane treatment. Are you sure there’s nothing like that going on?

OFFICER: My dear Fuhrer! These are terrible, ugly lies concocted by anti-exterminators! We treat our Jews quite humanely here; everyone knows that.

FUHRER: I thought so. I just needed to hear it from you, captain.

OFFICER: Of course, my dear Fuhrer. I would follow your orders even if it meant walking into oblivion and back.

FUHRER: Your obedience and courage are admired. You display the heart of a true Aryan.

OFFICER: Thank you dear Fuhrer!

FUHRER: However, you must know that lies have a way of persisting in spite of the truth.

OFFICER: Indeed they do.

FUHRER: And that is why you will find a way to stop them.

OFFICER: Of course I…well, I mean…I would very much like to stop them.

FUHRER: Do I hear a hint of disloyalty in your voice, captain?

OFFICER: Of course not! I will do what my dear Fuhrer commands.

FUHRER: Good.

The connection is broken. The officer hangs up the phone and immediately calls for one of his subordinates. A soldier rushes into his office with a firm salute.

OFFICER: Soldier! Have you made sure the Jews have all the proper accommodations?

SOLDIER: Yes, sir.

OFFICER: Do they have ample food and water?

SOLDIER: Yes, sir.

OFFICER: What about living space? Time for leisure?

SOLDIER: Yes, sir.

OFFICER: And do all of the Jews in our camp seem happy and loved?

SOLDIER: Exceedingly so, sir.

OFFICER: And what of the manner of execution?

SOLDIER: Sir?

OFFICER: Are their deaths slow and painful or quick and painless?

SOLDIER: Quick and painless, sir. We’ve decommissioned the gas chambers and replaced them with showers.

OFFICER: Good. We need to make sure they are clean before extermination.

SOLDIER: Anything else, sir?

OFFICER: I need you to find out who is spreading rumors of inhumane treatment.

SOLDIER: If I may sir, I’d like to suggest the rumors are coming from the outside.

OFFICER: I thought as much.

SOLDIER: What should I do about it, sir?

OFFICER: Isn’t it simple?

SOLDIER: You want us to…stop killing Jews, sir?

OFFICER: What? No, you idiot! We invite the outside agitators to see how clean and humane our camps are. Once they are convinced how much we care for our Jews, they can stop writing this nonsense.

SOLDIER: Of course…I see.

The soldier remains upright but his features soften and his stance wavers. His eyes wander the office in search of an invisible something.

OFFICER: Yes, soldier?

SOLDIER: With all due respect, sir, might I ask why we are exterminating them?

OFFICER: What a silly question! Because they are Jews! Because our God and our Fuhrer command it you simpleton!

SOLDIER: Yes, of course…I was just thinking how beautiful they are.

OFFICER: They are a rather beautiful species, but we mustn’t give into our base instincts, soldier. We must exterminate them because we love them, and because it is our God-given duty. If we let them go free they would likely be miserable, poor, and die of starvation. The higher races would be inclined to prey on them because of their stupidity, and their cunning ways would get them into trouble with the law. We are doing them a favor by keeping them here. You must realize this.

SOLDIER: Yes, sir. As stupid and beautiful as they are, it is a pity we have to kill them all the same.

OFFICER: Yes, if only they were not Jews things would be different. But the fact of the matter is they are Jews and we are Aryans. Now go attend to your duties at once!

The soldier salutes and exits the office. The officer looks out of his window to check the status of the camp. Instead of a collection of crude hovels, he sees an open field peppered by trees and several picturesque cottages. Masses of seemingly-happy Jews move about while some recline under trees or relax in the warmth of the midday sun. Children can be seen laughing and playing. The barbed-wire fences have been removed in favor of a more pastoral look, although the sentry towers are still watchful, their bullets replaced with tranquilizers should anyone try to make an escape. 

The officer sighs with satisfaction at the sight. It makes him feel good to know that these Jews will live long and happy lives before their eventual extermination. Long gone are the barbaric days of gas chambers, torture, and starvation; for every new camp will be as humane and dignified as his own. As the officer reclines in his chair and reminds himself of this fact, a smile erupts across his face. He knows the Fuhrer will be proud.