Life is fraught with tough decisions. Taking down a 450-pound silverback male gorilla with a 3-year-old child in his possession is not one of them. Sure it was sad for the ape who just turned 17 and had his whole life before him, albeit in captivity. But the Cincinnati Zoo had no choice.
Not so fast, say Joan and John Q. Public.
Nearly 500,000 self-proclaimed experts in zoology, zoo enclosure security and parenting — none of whom were anywhere near the incident in late May — have signed a petition to charge the parents for the gorilla’s death. In fact there are 80 various petitions floating around relating to the incident.
My favorite is the one asking Pope Francis to waive the standard attribution of two miracles and the normal wait time to immediately proclaim the gorilla, Saint Harambe. Three hundred thousand idiots have signed this petition and believe an anthropoid ape who was in the wrong place (a zoo) at the wrong time (ever) should be fast tracked to join the likes of Mother Teresa. Mama T, by the way, has been dead since 1997, has two hocus pocus thingies under her beaded belt and will be canonized this Labor Day weekend.
A distraught woman picketing the zoo was interviewed on TV saying, “He got no voice now because he’s dead so we got to be his voice.” I could be wrong, but she didn’t really strike me as an ASPCA advocate or even somebody who would help a stray animal. Maybe it was her lousy grammar or sloppy appearance, but I got a weird vibe from this chick.
Animal rights activists are a noble lot and deserve our respect. I have a dear friend who volunteers at pet adoption events and fosters at-risk dogs and even hamsters! She is the mother of two young boys and there’s no doubt in my mind she’d choose that little boy over the ape.
Last year we were horrified when that dentist killed Cecil the lion. A black and white case of animal rights violations if there ever was one. And the truth is, the very concept of a zoo tramples on the rights of its animals.
But why are so many people second-guessing this zoo’s actions to save a child? Would they really want to see an agitated gorilla, with a tranquilizer dart stuck in his arm, crush a toddler to death? Or when he passed out, fall on the boy and smother him?
And why are they vilifying the mother? Have they never taken their eyes off their own children in public, or at home, for 30 seconds and found their little darlings in some sort of mischief? Without even knowing this mother or her history with her children, they have deemed her unfit and responsible for the death of a gorilla and the near-death of her own son.
I don’t have any answers, but I do have a nagging question. If that 450-pound gorilla was dragging around a blonde haired, blue eyed white child would the reaction have been the same? Is this yet another example of how race influences some people’s thinking?
Racism wasn’t the first thing that popped into my mind — it sort of crept up on me. I honestly don’t know if it’s a factor. What’s sad to me is that it could be. Racism is alive and unwell in America, whether it’s voter suppression, unfair arrest and incarceration, poverty, underemployment or beliefs of the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.
Donald Trump was a relentless leader in the birther movement in an attempt to delegitimize this country’s first black president. He pretended he didn’t know David Duke and refused to immediately disavow white supremacy. Donald wants to ban Muslims from entering the country. He called Mexicans criminals and rapists. And just last week Trump claimed Indiana-born, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel is biased against him in the Trump University lawsuit because “he’s a Mexican.”
Also last week, during a rally in Redding, California, Donald Trump gave a creepy shout-out to black Republican congressional candidate, Gregory Cheadle. “Oh look at my African-American over here. Look at him,” said Trump. “Are you the greatest?”
If I didn’t know better, I would say Trump was pulling a politically correct version of Larry Wilmore’s, cringe-worthy White House Correspondence Dinner closing when he addressed President Obama as “Barry, my n*gga.” But Trump doesn’t have a PC hair in his comb over. So what was that about?
Under President Trump, will racists get the green light to crawl out from under their rocks and thrive in the sunlight of acceptance by the leader of the free world? If race played a part in that illiterate woman protesting at the zoo and Trump was president, would she feel free to say on national television that an endangered gorilla’s life matters more than a black boy’s?
Of course Donald Trump isn’t responsible for the hidden — and not so hidden — racism and discrimination that weakens this country. But the Donald gave up his right to say stupid things just to get attention when he ran for office. He has a moral obligation to respect the Constitution and abide by it. He has a duty to be honorable, decent and fair should he move into the White House.
Recognizing that Donald’s behavior has been less than presidential, Republicans promised a pivot to some sanity once Trump secured the GOP nomination. Pivot? No pivot. The man has dug deeper into the muck and now “he got” no way out. But if all the racist, stupid muckers in this country vote for him, he could actually win. And if he does, the consequences of Donald Trump’s racism, bigotry and stupidity will not stop at our borders. He will build a virtual wall between us and most of the world.
Forget Mexico. We’re all gonna pay for that wall.