The killing of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist is all over the news. It is everywhere.
According to Google, there are roughly 2,000 articles about a dead lion.
The fact that two Zimbabwean men who helped the white dentist-hunter kill the large lion were arrested has been largely ignored—yet the US public has never much cared about black victims of white violence. Americans are much more outraged that one of their own would dare to kill a precious living thing.
Most Americans did not even know Cecil the Lion existed during its life, but they now mourn it in its death.
I cannot remember the time I saw this much media coverage and popular outrage about an issue. Even frequent mass shootings by neo-Nazi, white supremacist, right-wing terrorists do not garner this kind of enormous and heated response.
On social media, Americans are even publicly calling for violence against the dentist-hunter, as if he is some kind of uniquely evil, cold-blooded killer.
What is telling, however, is not just the striking absence of public outrage about victims of the US government, but also the noticeable disparity in reporting.
Should people be outraged that a rich white Westerner paid tens of thousands of dollars to travel to Africa to destroy a rare animal for fun? Absolutely. But they should be proportionately outraged.
US citizens and the US corporate media absolutely freak out over the death of a lion, but barely blink when their government massacres civilians in war.
The US killed 1 million Iraqis at the very least in the first 12 years of its “War on Terror,” according to a March 2015 report by Physicians for Social Responsibility. Most Americans did nothing. But now they are loudly lamenting the death of an animal.
At least 220,000 Afghans have been killed in the continued 14-year US occupation, according to the same report, but Americans are infinitely more concerned about a dead lion.
Over 3,600 people have been killed in the ongoing US-backed bombing of Yemen. Leading human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the Western-backed Saudi-led coalition of war crimes. But, once again, it is the visage of a dead lion that is plastered all over the headlines, not the blood-stained faces of any of the hundreds of murdered Yemeni children.
In 51 days in the summer of 2014, Israel—with US weapons, military aid, and steadfast political backing—slaughtered over 2,300 Gazans, most of whom were civilians. These same leading human rights organizations, along with the UN, say the US’ “special” ally committed war crimes and potential crimes against humanity.
Can you imagine 2,000 media articles about these death tolls? They have been largely ignored by the same media presently going wild over the hunting of a wild creature.
Or, if the existence of these victims is even acknowledged, they are frequently slandered as “terrorists,” and ergo worthy victims of their untimely fates (“They got what was coming to them”).
Can you imagine Americans being as outraged about these dead humans as they are about this dead lion?
And it’s not even just victims abroad.
The US corporate media and American culture anthropomorphize animals killed by dentists and dehumanize humans killed by empire.