Photo by Dave Richards. See his website at onsafari.co.ke/
“When I get over on the other side, I shall use my influence to have the human race drowned again, and this time drowned good, no omissions, no ark.” — Mark Twain, “On the Damned Human Race”
There will be no God’s mandate for an ark this time. Man is taking the rest of life out with him. Steve Bannon and Donald Trump are giving what Chris Hedges calls a “Christianized fascist” push to planetary extinction and climate chaos.
Man’s dominion turned domination of other animals is a Christian perversion. One can choose what one wants from the Bible. My hunter neighbor tells me, “There are animal sacrifices in the Bible — we are supposed to kill them.”
Most religions do make man the center of the universe.
Driving into Madison early on a Saturday morning, I listened to a BBC hour devoted to parsing out the plans of Bannon, power beside the throne. They referenced various statements by Bannon working “to blow up the establishment” with his method being constant chaos. Bannon is quoted as saying, under his plan, they can rule for 50 years.
Rule what is left. Some short lives are focused on delusions of power.
Man has had a substantial run of ruling the planet. It is a story of destruction, cruelty and failure. Humans are so out of balance that we have caged and fenced most of the other species of any size or utility by the billions: laboratories, feedlots, factory farms, puppy mills, pet trade. Wild animals — deer, turkeys, bears, coyotes, wolves, crows, ducks, mourning doves — are shot or bled out by men who enjoy killing just about anybody large enough to hit. Fur “bearers” suffer the obscene torture of trapping. Oceans, predicted to be fish-less by 2048, are trawled and long-lined, with billions of tons of “by-catch” tossed back dead into plastic-polluted waters acidifying with warming.
The figure I have heard in illegal wildlife trade is $22 billion, but since it is hidden, it is hard to calculate. What is sure is that with 60 percent of large mammals threatened with extinction, the market for them has gone ballistic — both in legalized killing and illegal trade. Demand for lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, wolverines, jaguars, leopards, wolf species including gray wolves, and bears is spiking.
The skeletons of 800 lions are scheduled to be shipped from South Africa to the Far East to be used in folk medicine. The bones are the remains of captive lions killed in fenced hunting enclosures on farms raising 6,000 to 8,000 lions for “hunters” to kill as they are paraded out in front of them. Last year an attempt to protect lions at the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species failed.
The 20,000 free-roaming lions remaining in Africa are threatened by hunting and the Asian trade, now replacing tiger bones with lions, as both species hurtle toward extinction. Botswana stopped all lion hunting in 2013 because of precipitous decline in lion populations.
South Africa’s private lion breeding business practices encourage cub petting and pictures and then pricey canned hunting as the cubs grow larger (like farm petting zoos’ connection to slaughterhouses). There are pictured catalogs for the male lions: $30,000, $28,500, $25,500, and on down. Females can be killed for $7,000. Prices include accommodations, packing and shipping, transportation and cash bar available (for bragging rituals).
In “Blood Lions” and “Dead Lion Walking,” documentary-makers investigate the canned lion hunting industry, citing hundreds of the captive animals shot by wealthy hunters every year in a business worth millions of dollars.
The Department of Natural Resources has its own captive wildlife breeding facilities. Over 400,000 non-native pheasants are hand-raised annually to be thrown out the day before the pheasant hunt. The Boys and Girls Club of Janesville’s annual fenced pheasant kill fundraiser, held this year on Saturday, Feb. 11, teaches young people that benefiting from killing tame birds is normal and acceptable.
The DNR licenses canned hounding facilities, thinly veiling killing wildlife with dogs for fun, seven days a week, 16 hours a day. The wildlife who suffer and die in these local facilities are foxes, raccoons, rabbits, coyotes, bobcats and baby bears. The DNR cares so little for our wildlife that they do not even enforce Legislature-mandated quarterly reports, nor do they look at them.
In his call to resistance, “Make America Ungovernable,” Chris Hedges describes the Trump/Bannon regime of “Christianized fascism” as venerating “a demented hypermasculinity that includes a sacralization of violence, misogyny, a disdain for empathy.”
Mark Twain said it this way, “I bring you the stately nation named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched and dishonored … with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodie, and her mouth full of hypocrisies. Give her soap and towels but hide the looking glass.”
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on February 15, 2017.