Monday, December 5, 2016

It's Not a Monkey

I love zoos and have visited many.  My favorite thing about zoos is often not the animals but the people who visit them.  You see, for some reason, people think they know what they are talking about when it comes to the animals at the zoo.  The is a zoo I visited with a central exhibit of gibbons who would swing through the branches.  Signage around the exhibit was labeled clearly in tall letters:  It's NOT A MONKEY.  The sign went on to explain the difference between monkeys and lesser apes.  At least 10 people approached the exhibit, stood near this sign, and said to their children or friends, "look at the monkey".   For the rest of the day "It's not a monkey" became a code phrase.  But that is not the worst thing I have seen.  I once took a class that one project was to visit the Baboon enclosure at the zoo in Syracuse.  A large room with a variety of baboons of various ages.  One time a woman came in with a few children, may have been a teacher.  She points to the large alpha male and says, "See he is the only boy and all the others are girls".  The problem, standing, facing the glass that this woman is viewing through, is a male, clear as day by biology.  A quick read of the sign in the room would explain what the make of of the troop is.  However she knew for sure what was going on so why bother to read.

This is what I fear we can look forward to in a Trump administration.  A few days ago, President-elect Donald Trump decided that it would be a good idea to call Taiwan.  Without talking to the State Department or apparently anyone who has had a mote of understanding of the United States China policy since the Reagan years, Trump rings up the new President of Taiwan.  Now one can be critical of our one China policy but for the man who will be President to breech protocol like that is a stunning thing.  He seemed to act like the people who didn't read the sign at the zoo, he thought he knew what he was doing.  Unlike the people at the zoo, the mistake is not without consequences.  If this was about ignorance, this is a dangerous ignorance.  What is even scary is that there are people close to him who are taking advantage of his ignorance and getting him to do things that meet their agenda, even if it puts US in danger.   The fallout from these kind of diplomatic blunders can have far reaching implications.  However, like him, many of his supporters don't care, in part because they don't understand the world of diplomacy.

One of the things that people say about why they voted for Trump was that he doesn't talk like a politician.  But they are the people who call baboons with penis girls.  But Trump is not only ignoring reality but he is trying to redefine it.  He would go up to the sign at the zoo and erase the NOT at the gibbon exhibit.  He simply lies when his is caught in some new idiocy and his people say things like "There is no such thing as facts".  When Trump was out marketing his name and running a reality show his detachment with reality was comedy and not important.  But now, everything he says or does has world-wide implications.  He has said so many things since the election that are troubling, including lying about the election he won and the Carrier deal that he can claim.  This is troubling.  Regardless of the Trump team's worldview, facts matter, a lot.  We aren't at the zoo, gibbons are not monkeys and the Presidency is not a game.  Can someone please tell Mr. Trump?   

No comments:

RIP Anthony Bourdain and We Must All Be More Aware

This morning I woke up with a little spring in my step.  It is Friday, Shabbat is almost here.  I can work outside this weekend for a bit a...