Animal Rights Radicals Wreck Ringling Brothers Circus

The Greatest Show on Earth is going out with a bang. The 146th installment of Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus is rolling through Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and New York City one last time before it closes forever.

This was a planned extinction. Deep-pocketed radicals outside the American mainstream won a long-sought victory against the circus.

This final edition -- known to circus aficionados as Ringling’s “Blue Unit” -- is touring as “Out of This World.” On May 21 in Uniondale, New York, an American institution that began when Ulysses Grant was president will be no more.

At a recent stop in Washington, D.C., I enjoyed the show that thrilled generations of Americans, and that the institutional Left has destroyed.

The opening act lived up to expectations. A trio of astronauts balanced on a narrow, rotating Simet wheel high above the audience, seeming to defy gravity, while Quindar tones interrupted conversations from ground control and back.

Was this irony deliberate? Memories of Apollo opened the show, with cultural references that, in a generation or two, will be unknown to most Americans. Two great American institutions -- our astronauts walking in space, and a grand American circus rolling across the land -- will fade from collective American memory.

Yes, the circus is a great American institution. That’s why it was targeted like so many other American institutions.

The circus was the product of American industrial might and organizational ingenuity. When the mighty Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey trains rolled across the land, there was nothing else like it in the world. No other nation could duplicate Ringling’s ability to organize and move hundreds of performers, roustabouts, and exotic animals from one town to another as a self-sustaining business enterprise. America has existed longer with a Barnum and Bailey circus than without one.

The circus wasn’t targeted by PETA activists because the elephants were mistreated. The issue is never the issue.

If elephants could choose between living in their natural environment where elephant pox, poachers, and lice prevail, or in a Ringling Brothers circus with veterinarians and an endless supply of bamboo and hay, they’d choose Ringling Brothers.

Then again, elephants don’t have the cognitive ability to make this choice. Which takes us back to our story.

PETA radicals waged a long propaganda campaign against the circus. Even in victory, they still protest.  Year after year, these activists badgered families arriving at the circus, handing out coloring books to children that appeared to be part of the show -- but instead contained coloring cartoons of animals being tortured.  Surprise, surprise for Johnny and Jane.

For reasons I’ll never understand, the protesters were almost always morose-looking women, standing their vigil and protesting against joy. Thousands of smiling children never seemed to deter them. Who cares about happy kids when there are enslaved donkeys to be rescued?