Ted Cruz, demonstrating that he is of the Not Ready For Honorable Service Club, posted this photo on his Facebook page, ridiculing the Endangered Species Act and the plight of tigers everywhere (I’m not a good enough Panthera tigris expert to identify which subspecies* this one is; they are all threatened, and trade in the skins of tigers is proscribed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)).
I posted this on Facebook with little comment — it’s just disgusting that public officials would be so cavalier about U.S. law and responsible citizenship like this. Oddly, someone took offense claiming that we shouldn’t impinge on the First Amendment rights of conservatives.
Shooting threatened and endangered species is not covered by the First Amendment. (YIAAL).
In discussions on my Facebook timeline, I wrote this to those taking offense at criticisms of these two yahoos:
We cannot hope to know the anguish in the hearts of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee that this majestic, endangered, animal was slaughtered.
But we can note that this photo was a genuine lapse in judgment, and we should question whether either of these men is fit to serve you coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, let alone fit to sit in Congress and wreak destruction in our names.
Our national policy is to protect endangered species. Partly that’s done out of respect for creation and our inability to recreated such magnificent things once they are gone. Partly it is done out of the real understanding that as endangered species go, so go we. We do not know, cannot know, which species are the critical ones that make it possible for us to survive on this planet. We shouldn’t be in the business of experimenting with the wiping out of the human race the penalty paid if we goof.
Protecting endangered species produces huge benefits. Not only did we bring back from the brink of extinction the bald eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon and brown pelican when we banned DDT use on crops, we discovered that we’d endangered several species of bats that, now they’ve recovered from DDT, keep our cities free from disease carrying mosquitoes — much cheaper than even DDT at the acme of its cheapness.
And then there are the other benefits. Digitalis to treat heart disease came from a threatened species in tropical climes. Because we’d protected habitat for the spotted owl, when the National Institutes of Health put out the call for massive amounts of Pacific yew, from which to extract a chemical that had shown promise to cure cancers, we had enough of the trees to answer the call right away — and tamoxifen was tested and found very useful, and is today out there fighting cancers.
So what if these two clowns want to jab at environmentalists? Isn’t that allowed, even when they have to urinate on our national symbols to do it?
Sure, it’s allowed. But people who do that? They’re not qualified to be called leaders. Such a lapse in judgment is enough that, in a just world, they’d be asked to resign immediately.
Martin Luther King, Jr., promised that someday the words of the prophet Amos would come true, and justice will roll like a mighty river.
That day is not today. Today we have Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, proving true the words of the prophet Jagger: “Let’s think of the wavering millions// Who need leaders but get gamblers instead.”
Gambling like that does dishonor to this establishment we call the USA.
They make Anthony Weiner look chaste and noble.
If you’re on Facebook, perhaps you’d like to join in discussion there; I’d like to have your thoughts here.
- No, Cruz told the Washington Post, he doesn’t apologize; it’s just like abortion, his spokeswoman said (carefully working to avoid prosecution, Cruz’s office and conservatives tout claims ths that it may be a fake tiger pelt)
- Smithsonian SmartNews: “Maybe don’t feel so bad for the men treed by a tiger for five days”
- “Tigers in trouble draw global attention,” Voice Of America (VOA) story from 2010
- USFWS “Tips for Travelers,” list of items from animals and plants that are prohibited to bring into the U.S.; “Furs: Most of the world’s wild cats, including tigers and such spotted species as jaguar, leopard, ocelot, margay, and leopard cat, are protected. You cannot import skins or items made from, or trimmed with, the fur of these animals.”
- Did Sen. Cruz really just buy a tiger skin rug? at The Dodo.com
Interesting update: Meanwhile, back in Sane America, which is far away from these two guys, The National Zoo/Smithsonian teamed up with Portugal. The Man to release a very rare piece of music, to raise money to help rescue the Sumatran tiger, of which only 400 remain alive.
The Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute teamed with agency DDB New York to put the dwindling tiger population in perspective on Earth Day. They enlisted Portugal. The Man to record an exclusive song, then pressed 400 copies on degradable vinyl, so that with each play the record would diminish until the song disappeared, not unlike the dire situation facing our striped feline friends from Sumatra.
Can you get a copy to listen to? Though there are only 400 copies, I’ll wager it’s easier to listen to this song than it is to get a straight answer about endangered tigers from the Senate offices of these two senators pictured above.
Update #2: Here’s an infographic that suggests why it’s important to keep tigers alive. They are canaries in our coal mine we call Earth. Lee and Cruz appear to be cheering on the destruction of all humanity.
* Thanks to Lars for pointing out that all tigers are one species, and the different populations are subspecies.