05 September 2008

Sarah and her dead bear

Looking at that picture of Republican vice--presidential candidate Sarah Palin sitting pertly on her office sofa accompanied by a very large and very dead bear, I'm not sure if the appropriate reaction is humour or despair.

It is impossible not to recognize a certain cartoonish quality to the juxtaposition of an apparently sophisticated lady, cocktail in hand, seated on a dead bear. There's a New Yorker cartoon here.

On the other hand, this was once a magnificent living animal (I'm referring to the bear here, not the lady, although she too is physically commanding) that was killed for what? A bit of fun? For a decoration? Its killing symbolizes the arrogance of humanity, the arrogance of a species that believes the Earth exists solely for its purpose, for its pleasure, including the pleasure of killing other species. This arrogance is particularly intense among fundamentalists, of which Sarah Palin is one. The notion other species may have a right to simply live their lives out is absent from an Old Testament mentality. Or from a frontier mentality, a mentality which is said to possess Alaskans. Ms. Palin is a true representative of her state.

Canadian author Ronald Wright describes two Americas: Enlightenment America, descended from such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson; and Backwoods America, descended from the frontier, clinging to fundamentalism and firearms as touchstones of the pioneering myth, of an autonomy the little man has lost.

With Sarah Palin, Americans have got the latter in spades.

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