Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cecil


Jimmy Kimmel's Tearful plea for justice
Cecil was a lion who was hunted down and killed by an American dentist.  It’s all over the news today, where the dentist has been named, identified and targeted by animal rights activists.  Today, my facebook and twitter feeds are all about Cecil.  I predict that profile pictures will be of his beautiful face.  

The whole affair makes me shake my head in disbelief; not about the big-game hunter who illegally poached the lion, but about the reaction of people I love and respect.  I’ve been purposefully staying OFF my soap box after witnessing the tapes of Planned Parenthood doctors haggling over the prices of fetal tissue and organs, but now I cannot.

Don’t get me wrong- poachers are evil.  I can’t stand them and I love the way that Africa brings them to justice…but I’ll get to that later.  BUT a lot of my friends didn’t have much to say about the public funding of Planned Parenthood.  I guess we are all used to defending our own human rights violations.  The world news reported the travesty in this way:  Americans fund and support an organization that sells unborn baby parts.  Swallow that.  Is it bitter? It should be.

After living in Africa for seven years, I can tell you that life over there and life here in America doesn’t compare and contrast the way that most Americans believe it SHOULD.  Upon arrival on that beautiful continent, Mario and I were not even able to bring our American money over and put it in a South African bank.  This was a problem for us because we needed money; I was quickly schooled about how things are different in Africa.  There are different ways, different laws, and different ways to get things done.  Keep my American pride to myself and abide by our rules. 

While living there, I saw the truth more and more.  This is Africa; not America.  How could I expect to personally demand that human rights or my idea of conservationism be respected?  It was vain and conceited of me.  I was a foreigner – a guest on a wild continent whose rules were equally foreign.

Morgan Tsvangirai with Obama
That is why my introduction to Zimbabwe was a slap in the face.  The first time we travelled through the country was in 2006; I was acutely aware of the terror of Robert Mugabe’s regime.  Once revered as the leader who ousted the white minority rule of Rhodesia to take back the land for native Zimbabweans, Mugabe and his cronies quickly lapsed into lazy totalitarianism.  His military police were resident Nazis, raping local women and kicking people out of their homes to live there themselves.  They also tore down the homes of the very poor, telling them to “flee to South Africa” for their lives.  Many did, seeking refuge.  When opposed by educated leaders of that country, Mugabe arranged for their deaths.  The most famous attempt happened in 2009 on Zimbabwe's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who survived a car crash that killed his wife, Susan, near Harare.

George W. Bush made a public speech against him.  Mugabe promptly ousted many American “guests” in his country.  We had been in Malawi when this happened and one of the local leaders told us about it. "Be careful," he warned.  "Mugabe is bloodthirsty."  We called our consulate, who advised us to stay out of Zimbabwe.  We had to travel through Mozambique in order to get “home” to Johannesburg.  It cost our team an extra day of fuel and food – we weren’t popular! 

With Mugabe’s human rights violations being listed in the top 5 with Human Rights groups such as Amnesty International, I wonder why Americans are now concerning themselves about animal rights?  I want to ask those people (including Jimmy Kimmel) if he has ever spent more than five minutes changing planes in another country.  Want to focus on Zimbabwe, may I ask you if you KNOW who the president of that country is?  Do you know he murders his own people? Do you know that it is a crime to be gay in Zimbabwe?  You can be murdered for supporting the wrong cause, the wrong political party, for having the wrong friends…for being from the wrong tribe?

Today, the only one who seems to share my outrage at the hypocrisy of America is a pompous old windbag named Rush Limbaugh – and that disgusts me.  Where is the outrage of my friends?  Where is the “call for justice” of what is happening to PEOPLE?

Don’t get me wrong, I grieve for what happened with the lion; I detest poaching on any level.  BUT I detest human rights violations EVEN MORE.  DRAMATICALLY MORE.  I am human, above anything else; my obligation and allegiance is to humans FIRST and animals – second.  A distant second.

 I once visited a game park who had caught a poacher the night before we arrived.  The administrator (a white man) was all smiles in the morning, telling us about how he caught the team of thugs who led an illegal hunt.  Since it is illegal to poach in a protected park, the authorities had to be called – but not before the thugs were “questioned”.  After an all-night torturing session, the thugs were “released” to authorities, hog-tied with their faces swollen.  The administrator had no sleep all night, but seemed to be at peace. 

“Yeah,” he sighed, proudly.  “We got a lot of valuable information out of those poachers before the police came.”

That’s how poachers are treated there- sound brutal?  How is announcing their identity on nation-wide TV and calling for justice?  Give me a break. 


I mean really…how bad are your ratings?  

Let me hear what you have to say about the Zimbabwean people – then I’ll listen to what you have to say about one lion.

Want to get behind a GOOD cause? Check out Amnesty International!