The murder of Cecil, a famous Zimbabwean lion, at the hands of an American dentist on an exotic game hunt has become this summer’s national outrage. Liberals are calling for government intervention to prevent Americans from exotic animal hunting and the mainstream media has carved out hours of time to discuss this injustice.
It has reasonably prompted resistance from right wing people, many specifically conservatives, who feel there are more critical problems for the world to solve, and more acceptable stories with which to use up outrage. Specifically, conservatives are asking why more Americans seem to care about the death of one lion than the death of thousands of unborn children, bodies later sold for profit, at the hands of Planned Parenthood.
Pro-life websites and conservatives on Twitter immediately took to condemning the attention on Cecil’s killer, wondering where all the outrage was when videos surfaced of Planned Parenthood officials cavalierly discussing the trafficking of post-abortion human remains. Approached by TMZ (of all people), Florida Senator Marco Rubio demanded Americans redirect their ire at Cecil the Lion’s killer towards the heads of Planned Parenthood. Mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post, perhaps understanding how misguided the marriage of these two issues may be, have also covered them in tandem.
The conservative instinct that people should acknowledge the cruelty of the exotic game industry while saving the true outrage for bigger problems is absolutely correct. But to take a story that is essentially about Zimbabwe’s laws– its industries, culture, and leadership– and shoehorn it into American politics does it a disservice. It is moral to have one’s “don’t we have bigger problems to solve?” senses tingle at the idea of international outrage over one lion, but you don’t have to go as far as 1800s American eugenicism to find those bigger problems.
Those who condemn Planned Parenthood argue that they are complicit– if not organizers– of a genocide of the unborn. There is no need to leave Zimbabwe to find a genocide worth condemning.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s nonagenarian tyrant ruling for the better of three decades, ordered the killing of more than 20,000 members of the Ndebele ethnic minority in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, when he was still merely Prime Minister. The genocide is known as the “Gukurahundi,” meaning “the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.” While he was widely believed to have orchestrated the mass killings, it was not until this month that reports revealed he gave the deadly special troops tasked with the genocide “explicit” orders to act it out. The Fifth Brigade– Mugabe’s killing squads– were trained by North Korea.
Some may argue that a more than three-decade-old genocide may not elicit as much outrage as the killing of thousands of American children today. To argue this is to ignore that Mugabe is still in power and rules Zimbabwe with an iron fist. Mugabe held “elections” in 2008, where at least 85 civilians were killed and attacks on political opponents rose into the four digits.
His biggest political foes are, by definition, white people. Mugabe’s has been an extremely racist tenure, defined by waves of land grabs leaving white farmers impoverished. Mugabe– who was fed a smorgasbord of exotic animals for his 91st birthday– is now targeting safaris, not for any interest in the rights of the animals, but because “most are white owned.” “Those with multiple farms, we will take them, the few whites on farms, we will look into that and those with big farms, we will cut to size,” Mugabe said of white farmers, safari directors, and landowners in April.
In addition to whites, LGBT Zimbabweans, who are targeted for violence by Mugabe’s troops, are particularly vulnerable. Mugabe has vowed to make Zimbabwe a “hell” for LGBT people, who are “worse than pigs, goats and birds” and who he would gladly “chop off their heads.” Zimbabweans believed to be gay are routinely beaten or arbitrarily arrested by police.
The horrors of living in Zimbabwe are so acute that thousands have fled to neighboring South Africa, where they are seen as threatening an already weakened job economy and become, once again, the victims of violence.
Robert Mugabe is a classic communist villain– an ally of seemingly every rogue nation, from North Korea to Cuba to Iran— responsible for an incalculable amount of human suffering. Americans have little awareness of the depths of his evil, and conservatives should use the opportunity of having Zimbabwe in the news to change that, before President Obama decides to extradite a U.S. citizen straight into Mugabe’s arms.
If we don’t speak about Mugabe now, those with more ambiguous moral stands regarding his reign will. If conservatives don’t make the case that he is a monster and Zimbabwean human lives are more precious than its wildlife, people like Christiane Amanpour– who has apparently never met a dictator she didn’t love– will make that case of us, and it will look like this:
We rightfully protest when left-leaning human rights activists and NGOs ignore the violations of nominal allies, or distract from real human rights abuses by berating an ideological enemy. Planned Parenthood, for conservatives, is as much an ideological enemy as the state of Israel is to many left wing thinkers. How many conservative articles have been written about the UN, Amnesty International, and other institutions targeting Israel for alleged human rights abuses while not directing a word at Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization responsible for destroying the lives of thousands, if not millions, of Palestinians? Our own standard applies on us here, too.
So keep fighting the good fight in the name of the unborn. Speak for those who don’t have a voice. But when the media inadvertently hands lovers of freedom a golden opportunity to protest the torment of the similarly defenseless victims of a tinpot African butcher, don’t waste the opportunity by changing the subject.