Of Osprey and the Osprey
Right wingers accuse environmentalists of valuing the welfare of animals over the welfare of people. It’s a conclusion based upon a false, unspoken premise: That it is necessary to choose between the welfare of animals and the welfare of people. The truth is that environmentalists value the welfare of people and the welfare of animals. In fact, we believe that the welfare of animals and the welfare of people are linked. After all, people are animals, and depend upon the integrity of Earth’s natural ecosystems, just like other animals do.
I was thinking about animal welfare and human welfare this morning when I took my kids up to their grandmother’s house, taking New York State route 89, which cuts through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. There, I saw a pair of ospreys, and stopped the car so that my oldest son could watch as the two birds gathered sticks to make a nest on top of a telephone pole.
This morning, I read a story about a very different kind of osprey. This other osprey is not a bird, but a military aircraft called the V22 Osprey. This Osprey is supposed to have the qualities of both a helicopter and an airplane, making it especially effective at bringing American soldiers into the thick of a battle, and then speeding away. The trouble is the that V22 Osprey doesn’t work very well. It’s prone to crashes, having killed 30 soldiers and injured others during test flights. The US Marine Corps leadership, supported by right wing politicians, is stubbornly insisting that the V22 Osprey be deployed in Iraq anyway.
So, on the one hand, you have environmentalists who place special value on animals like the osprey. On the other hand, you have right wing militarists who place special value on error-prone, mutlibillion dollar gadgets designed to help people kill other people, like the V22 Osprey.
I have no trouble choosing between these two different sets of values. I’m interested in animals, not in weapons. Progressives are environmentalists, and so they tend to share this preference with me. I’m looking for a good progressive candidate for President in 2008, because I’d like to see a someone in the Oval Office who sees that life for people would be better if our government would spend more money protecting habitat for wild animals, and waste less money protecting the turf of power elites who profit from military spending programs gone wild.
(Source: New York Times, April 14, 2007)
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