Petri: ‘You don’t deny people these protections,’ says grizzly

‘I get it; we’re animals. But if we were people, would you deny us our rights and lock us in cages?’

By Alexandra Petri

The Washington Post

WILDLIFE REFUGE, UNITED STATES — An endangered grizzly hearing of the rollback of the Endangered Species Act told a gathered crowd of reporters that it was confident it would not be treated this way if only it were a human being. The bear said it could not imagine the United States subjecting anyone to this and urged regulators to think of it as a fellow human, in need of protection.

Imagine, the bear urged, that these were not bears, mollusks or manatees but people who had come here seeking a place of refuge. How would the United States respond then?

A peregrine falcon agreed: “If a person came here who was being hunted and threatened and was in need of a safe place to raise a family, the United States would never force them to move. I understand that I am only a bird. I know that is why they are letting this happen. I wish I were a human who had chosen this place as a refuge; then they would not just throw me out.”

“You would never take away the home of a human family that had been settled here for years and years,” the bear suggested. “I realize that I am a grizzly bear, but think what it would be like if I weren’t. You would understand that because I was struggling to survive, I deserved more protection, not less. You would not let me be pushed aside by a developer, or shrug and tell me it was Darwinism. The United States would never tell me that if I could not care for myself, I did not deserve to be here.”

The bear sighed, expressing its regret at not having been born human, so its rights to occupy public spaces would never be called into question and it would at the very least be ensured access to clean drinking water.

The bear continued that America would never force someone who had been living there a long time and had formed a symbiotic relationship with the land to embark for somewhere different, nor would it be likely to blame them for disasters that sometimes occurred in the places they live.

“Our biodiversity is our strength,” a mollusk added. “I am just a gastropod with a mantle, a single cavity for both breathing and excretion, and a radula. But if I were a human being, capable of speech and love and possessing separate cavities for breathing and excretion, you would never treat me this way.”

“This is America,” the bear explained. “I know that I am a grizzly, and therefore it is not clear how my presence enriches this country. But think if I were a person who could contribute to the economy! Who could have dreams! Who could be proud to be an American! Then would you be so hasty to tell me this should not be my home?”

“Oh, to be a person,” it lamented, “and never be put in a cage!”

Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter @petridishes.

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