H. BRUCE RINKER: A Delegation of Ostriches

H. Bruce Rinker

These days, our three branches of Government seem rife with ostriches.

Whenever it’s politically expedient, their members flock to the nearest sand box to stab their heads into the ground as a shallow denial of the obvious. In the face of irrefutable scientific fact about human accelerated climate change, biodepletion, and environmental degradation, these modern-day bubble heads nod endlessly for their constituents with a spineless timidity.

Their indecisiveness endangers us all.

Compounding the environmental issues are escalating social ones: immigration, failing infrastructure, the rise of fascism and the demonizing of “the other.” One of the worst of these blowhards is Rush Limbaugh, a rabid-dog conservative “expert,”  who has convinced his errant disciples that he knows just about everything about science and society.

Self-anointed as  “America’s Doctor of Democracy,”  Limbaugh had a net worth in 2016,  $500 million. It seems the louder these thugs scream about their opponents and issues, the more they profit generously from a plague of hatred and distrust. Haven’t we learned anything from history?

These mad dogs remind me of an large-bodied family of New Jersey tourists I once encountered in a Paris café who couldn’t or wouldn’t speak a word of French, choosing instead to yell out their demands in English and to click their fingers for immediate service. I knew that all the hotel staff spoke English fluently but I watched as the maître d’hôtel feigned ignorance of the rude demands of these unpolished American tourists.

Amused, I observed this little international drama from the side in an efficiently appointed dining room while sipping my hot chocolate and slathering homemade butter and strawberry preserves on my morning-baked croissant, By intention, I did not introduce myself to these gauche New Jerseyites as a fellow-American.

The eventually rose up abruptly in unison and wobbled out of the café miffed by their disappointing French experience. Afterward, I chided the maître d’hôtel for his naughty ploy, but I really couldn’t blame him for his cheek. He recollected similar experiences with other rude Americans. Too often, we Americans impose an awful parochial view on others- whether “the other” is people or planet.

This brings me back to a delegation of ostriches, especially as a reference to the current occupant of The White House, the leading rooster of a tiresome chorus of indecorous yelling, screaming, and threatening. He has buried his ignoble head in the sludge of our day and centered his administration in a vast sandy field that shifts with incompetence.

“A delegation of ostriches” seems an apropos epithet for his reckless mediocrity: like a murder of crows, a shrewdness of apes, and a swarm of bees, a collective name for our Washington representatives – for their awesome inability to lead and unify from their hallways of privilege.

The chief male in the ostrich flock has vacuously promised to rebuild the Nation’s infrastructure and to bring America together in all its wondrous variety, despite his dark campaign ditty “to make America great again.” After all when, was America NOT great?!

His abundant sins include a warm and chummy liaison with the Russians, Neo-Nazis, and arch-conservative pundits such as Russ Limbaugh, Robert Jeffress, his evangelical advisor, and his tight friendships with Jerry Falwell, the NRA, and the carbon industry. Our White House ostrich fluffs up his pretense that persecuted minorities do not exist, Then he demonizes duly elected Congressional representatives who are undeniably Americans, and howls afterward like a morose infant when he’s criticized.

His yellow rain of deception threatens to drown America. His unmasked invitation to Russian agents to investigate a fellow presidential contender,  his puerile cursing American athletes who exercise their Constitutional guarantee of free speech, his demoniac dismantling of long-standing environmental protections, and his pathological tirades over critical media as a poor-baby persecution. If he wants to see persecution, then he should hang out along our Southern border! This ostrich has not seen the light of day since his first year in office or when he last played a round of golf.

Of course, we all know that ostriches do not really bury their heads in the sand; otherwise they would not be able to breathe! They are more likely to face danger head-on than to try to hide. These aggressive birds can deliver a kick to kill a lion! Nonetheless, the pundits and politicians in the DC ostrich herd insist that planting their puffy heads in the sand is an effective survival strategy. How much longer must we hope for a president who leads with wisdom and grace and delivers a kick to take down the lions around us?

The mean and dangerous buffoonery of the current occupant of the White House is now legendary. Through the past several drawn-out years, he has insulted women, minorities, the handicapped, prisoners of war, long-established media organizations, scientists, the diplomatic corps, and even the Pope. The only success that he can claim even remotely is the Nation’s recent economic stability – due not to his derelict policies, but to the hard work of President Obama and his team.

President Trump has done for the Republic what Jack the Ripper did for door-to-door salesmen. A promise of evisceration of what we know and love about America the Beautiful.

H. Bruce Rinker, Ph.D. is a forest ecologist, science educator, and explorer.  He is also the author of A Pearl in the Brain: The Cancer Journey of a Scientist in His Search for the Seat of the Soul. He may be reached at [email protected].