So Japanese fishermen are banned from U.S waters. Whales rejoice, environmentalists celebrate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush loses a point, U.S., President Bill Clinton drafts a chapter for his memoir called “After Monica: Whales!”, I grieve.
I must confess a disturbing case of emotional coldness and detachment. I feel no empathy toward whales whatsoever. To me, they look just as impersonal as the tuna fish that I order in restaurants. Their huge hulls have definitely encouraged the invention of a submarine — a device that I wholeheartedly detest.
Occasionally, they happen to be hazardous to oceanic transportation, they easily get suicidal, plunging themselves ashore to die there in masochistic agony, which is too much for my taste. Of course, they have also inspired Herman Melville’s famous novel “Moby Dick,” and I am grateful to them for that. Yet now Clinton has attached new meaning to them and I cannot help being impressed. I have never fancied tasting whale meat before but now I feel I must. However, probably I will wait for my first whale steak until Clinton publishes a memoir about his White House years.
Wouldn’t it be fun to eat whale while reading the truthful story written by this honorable and virtuous statesman about his amazing presidency? I can easily imagine flashy chapter titles like: “How to Smoke Dope but Not Inhale: My Personal Guide to Good Health”; “How to Cheat But Never Get Caught: My Little Rock Years”; “Remembering John F. Kennedy: Monica-1”; “I Love To Smoke Cigars in the Oval Office: Monica-2”; “I Discover That Smoking Cigars Is Bad For Me: Monica-3”; and finally, “Caring For Wildlife: My Wife Says She Has Discovered a Snake in Her Bed.” I wonder, if Clinton is going to donate the royalties from this juicy book to some whale protection fund? He should, especially if he has to conclude the volume with a chapter titled, “How Whales Did Not Help Al Gore Become the Next President.”
Instead of war maps, it appears that the Oval Office nowadays displays a list of endangered species. Each sperm whale killed by Japanese fishermen seems to be more dear to the president’s heart than an African country ravaged by famine and flattened by AIDS. Of course, what can you do for Rwanda, Angola or Sudan, which still linger in the dark ages of civil wars, epidemics and mass slaughter? With whales it is much easier.
In my childhood in the Soviet Union, we used to read a lot of garbage in school about “Grandpa Lenin,” but the piece that stuck in my mind was a very particular piece of garbage. On a hunting trip, Grandpa Lenin saw a fox. It was so beautiful and full of life that he had pity on it in spite of the fact that he was an avid hunter. Hunting was not the only sport he practiced, though. Everybody knew that among Lenin’s other hobbies were political coups, murders, revolutions and civil wars. Probably, that fox was the only being on Earth he ever took pity on. This story reminds me of Clinton and whales. Not to say that Clinton is a villain like Lenin. Lenin was greater in everything — like a whale is bigger than a fox. However, in Washington’s current yelps one detects a similar old tune: “the PR song.”
It seems that Clinton’s administration has become quite knowledgeable in marine biology. Words like minke and Bryde’s are becoming almost as popular in Washington as Hussein or Milosevic. However, if I were in Clinton’s shoes, I would avoid saying “sperm whale.” This might be misinterpreted by ill-wishers in Congress. In any case, foreign names like Albanian, Kurd or Tibetan are less appealing: The problems they imply demand something more than just fishing restrictions. Speaking about Tibetans: Aren’t they an endangered species, too? Wouldn’t it make sense to speak on their behalf and impose at least some sanctions on China for the sake of human decency? Instead, the president struggled for China’s trade rights with the zeal of a card-carrying member of the Communist Party.
Suddenly I realize I want to be a whale. The chance that a Japanese whaler would get you is infinitely smaller than being shot dead by a gun-carrying drug-addict on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. If you are a whale and you are killed, you can be sure your death will be publicized and avenged. But if you are a human killed by a lunatic pumped with heroin anywhere within a kilometer from the White House, then nobody would hear about this except for your family — which will have to pay outrageously high funeral costs.
In politics, the smaller the issue, the louder the voices. Desert Storm took place a decade ago but Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is still very much alive in Baghdad. Young people who were killed on Tiananmen Square back in 1989 would be entering midlife by now — yet the human-rights situation in China is not changing for the better. Presumably, these are minor issues in comparison with whales and the rest.
Clinton can formulate his own foreign policy doctrine: When choosing between endangered species and humans, always choose endangered species. Probably, before the end of his tenure we will see American warships escorting whales to the safety of a U.S. naval base and jet fighters guarding the mating grounds of some obscure moths dwelling in the midst of African jungle — with the local tribe quietly dying out in their miserable huts nearby.
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