From the Futile Gestures Department

Okay, I know I am going to get some flack for this one, but as an endangered species, I tend to be rather skeptical of gestures that say “I’m a Sensitive New Age Guy and I really care….” but don’t actually do anything to rectify, ameliorate, or heal a past injustice.

OK, Seattle City Council. What is this gesture really going to fix?

call me a cynic, but....

call me a cynic, but….

Am I going to get in trouble for this one?

Stay tuned to find out. (The panda kindergarten says, “if you haven’t pissed someone off today, you still have work to do.”)

Be the Bear!
Bob T. Panda

15 thoughts on “From the Futile Gestures Department

  1. Anna

    “Iโ€™m a Sensitive New Age Guy and I really careโ€ฆ.โ€ but donโ€™t actually do anything to rectify, ameliorate, or heal a past injustice.”

    THat’s how I feel about the “Oh noes, animals should be FREE, zoos are EVIL!!!!” people who want to free all the zoo animals back to the… 90% deforested, palm oil-plantationed, rampant with poachers and invasive species (that includes humans) wild! They don’t know or care about the conditions of the wild, nor do they care to help… they just want that self-congratulatory pat on the back! They don’t want to DO anything except give off the appearance of caring.

    As far as Columbus Day, I think a more balanced perspective needs to be taken. I don’t think we need to change the name but change the way it’s taught. We need to step away from the “Happy happy DISCOVERY!” aspect and show how the “good” we’re taught to acknowledge came at a high cost to the people Columbus encountered. I was given the whole feel-good story and the whole “Europeans are great! Natives were not very smart!” story all through my younger school years. Same with Thanksgiving. Then cue the rude awakening at college with all the horrific details that made you really stabby toward all those happy little pilgrim decorations at Thanksgiving or cutesy Columbus Day crafts.

    History of any kind isn’t “Happy happy joy joy!” but full of ups and downs, good and bad balancing each other. It can be tailored in age-appropriate ways without destroying a kid’s perception of patriotism. When I did home-based teaching for special-ed kids at a group home I refused to hang up cutesy decorations or make cute little crafts. The kids asked me why. I was able to give an age-appropriate approach that the kids could relate to, explain that we learned it is NOT OK to treat people like that, that we have learned a lot and come a long way. However, I may have scarred them for life with one lesson on colonization. I gave them all gift bags with fun things that a group home kid could use and that they loved…. coupons for video game time, little candy bars, gift coupons for McDonalds. I let them think about all the great things to do with those items. I then had kids from another group home come in and take it and they were NOT allowed to move or hit (otherwise fists would have flown). While the new kids took the bags- they thanked ME for it despite stealing them from the other kids and give those kids a card in its place (to replicate how the colonists thanked God for providing when they raided native storehouses and fields). The card indicated whether they were killed by disease, killed for resisting, or they lived. Only one “lived”. I then got out new gift bags to replace the stolen ones and we discussed what we learned from that, how it was not OK to do that to people.

    OK… enough of serious Anna and back to the regular satirical, humorous Anna ๐Ÿ™‚ The cute thing is one kid said if Columbus had a GPS, his “dumb*** would know he wasn’t in the Indies!” The kids I have now have never known life without internet or GPS so different lessons that I had to use- such as the language one describing how to find services for a TYPEWRITER- really blew their minds when they realized it can’t connect to the internet (our language arts teacher needs to update her stuff- I had to explain to the kids that a mimeograph machine was NOT an excerise machine because you had to crank it!)

    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It illustrates perfectly that one cultures “discovery” is often the theft of another. Will schools ever teach the actual history of this country? A few for sure. It reminds me a little of the attempts to revise literature, like Huckleberry Finn, to remove objectionable racist language. Wouldn’t it be better to teach children WHY this language and attitudes are objectionable, instead of acting like things like this had never happened?
      Changing the label of something, without correcting the acts/ attitudes behind something teaches us nothing.

      Apologies for a serious rant. Bring on International Cat Superiority Day!

      1. Anna

        I agree… if we can’t teach solutions we become part of the problem. Changing names or omitting/revising curriculum is a band-aid approach. For example… Cat Superiority Day is a great day to teach about apex predators and how important they are… and why conserving tiger habitats is so important for everyone else in the world!

        1. Panda in Chief Post author

          Exactly (although Mehitabel was thinking about CSD as a day to celebrate HER, but hey, she’s all for teaching about why tigers are important. They are cats, after all.)
          I also liked your comments about the “Zoo Deniers” Yes, in a perfect world where we had not destroyed/deforested/polluted the animals native habitats, it would be great for there to be no need for zoos. As it is, without zoos, many of these animals would cease to exist. Tigers are in worse peril than even pandas, maybe pandas have better press agents.
          I sometimes weep for the state of the world. And that’s why I need pandas being silly.

          1. Panda in Chief Post author

            although, it would be pretty cool if I had a bandaid with pandas and tigers on them.

          2. Anna

            Sorry, Mehitabel, but CSD discusses the importance of ALL cats and all the great things they do ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m sure she doesn’t mind the bragging rights! Does she known that owning a cat reduces the risk of a stroke in humans?

          3. Panda in Chief Post author

            Mehitabel says: what is this “owning cats” phrase you mention? It’s time you pledged your allegiance to you feline overlords. Do it now, and we may show you some mercy. Otherwise the couch is history. I am sharpening my claws now.

          4. Anna

            Mehitabel, my Feline Overlord, “owning” a cat is a human delusion, pay it no mind!

            My doctor says I am allergic to cats so I cannot own one, but perhaps that is a nice way of saying my home is unworthy of such a presence and I am not a fit servant for a cat!

          5. Panda in Chief Post author

            I’m sure no one would say that you are unworthy of feline servitude. But it does explain why you might have gotten confused about who owns whom.

  2. Poppy

    I think that you and Anna have covered this topic very well, with all the sarcasm and irony that it deserves. I get so irritated with those who claim that no animals belong in zoos so I’m glad you covered that ridiculousness as well. What would we do without dear Mr. Wu, Pinky, and the Meihem twins, not to mention their parents and siblings?

    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      The current standards for zoos today are a far cry from the abominations of the past.
      Glad you liked our discussion of the topic at hand. We live to serve, entertain, and on occasion, to educate. Especially with irony and sarcasm! Next up on the editorial agenda: Scottish Independence and who gets the pandas?

  3. Vicky Vladic

    My Thoughts On:
    Cat Superiority Day – Go Mehitabel!!
    Zoo Deniers – It’s funny how one fully domesticated breed of animal (humans) finds captivity for other animals so appalling. Maybe lead by example – go back into the wild, fight for food and a place to live, defend yourself from predators and poachers and then come back and tell us how wonderful it is.
    Columbus Day – We have the same issues Down Under. Should we celebrate Australia Day as it really is a commemoration of British colonisation? Should we rename the day or change the date? One Prime Minister even apologised to the Aboriginal people and then did nothing else for them. Empty gestures abound in this country while nothing is done for our Indigenous peoples. And I won’t get started on how we deal with our migrants and our asylum seekers!
    Thanks Bob T. for keeping up the great tradition of political cartooning. The only ones keeping me sane down here are our insightful cartoonists.
    I think I need a Vegemite Cuppycake now ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Panda in Chief Post author

      I want to think that the zoo deniers have a picture in their heads of “bad old” zoos, small cages with no where to hide. I don’t put keeping captured orcas in this category however. Wild orcas have families, the whole ocean to swim in, and while they have problems (generally caused by humans) I think they are better served by staying wild. For pandas the story is a little different. I love the story of how Gao Gao, of San Diego hot papa fame, was found as a young cub, doctored up and set free, and then he came BACK to the panda refuge and demanded to be taken in. The rest is history, and to look at him, you can tell that he doesn’t regret his decision.

      As for commemorating days of take overs and oppression, It is unlikely the aboriginal people of either North America or Australia see any cause for celebration.

      Now, Cat Superiority Day, that’s another thing.

      1. Vicky Vladic

        Life is never one size fits all. There are complexities in everything and no easy answers. Shades of grey abound.
        Luckily for us when it comes to pandas – it really is just black and white!


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