of wolves and whales

It said “Save the Wolves” on the front and “For Stew” on the back. I had stopped at the Road Kill Cafe, a famous local joint in McCleod, Montana where my husband and I are vacationing, to get a tee shirt for my seven year old grandson. The bartender, a friendly, 50ish, bleached blonde, turned the shirt over to reveal “For Stew” with a self satisfied grin. “We hate wolves. Shoot ’em on site around here”, she said, “They kill our horses and livestock.” She clawed at the air, “Take the haunches right out of ‘em.”

Down 298, past where the blacktop turns to gravel is a huge ranch just bought by a conglomerate of mega wealthy. Word has it that even their caretaker is not allowed to fish the river on the ranch grounds. Locals who try to access via the adjoining National Forest Access (which is legal) are routinely hassled.

This place reminds me a lot of the Caribbean, breathtakingly beautiful, amazing natural riches, an uneasy truce beneath which lurks conflicts between rich and poor, local and outsider. High stakes for everybody, environmentally and economically. It’s not as crowded here and the poverty not as steep as in the Caribbean. Still, no easy answers. And a desperate, often unrecognized need to be able to talk to each other despite the gulf involved.

Earlier I had been trolling the internet. Found a site called “Caribbean Whalefriends” and clicked through to an ad produced to persuade Caribbeans to urge their governments not to help Japan overturn the whaling ban — fair warning, if you link through, the ad is very disturbing.

Lord Ashcroft, a British noble, funded it. The announcer, who from his age and King’s English diction might be Ashcroft himself, exhorts the viewer as bloody water washes over a toddler’s ankles and whale blood from a harpooned whale gushes — While I entirely support the cause, I wonder about the tactic.

What got me thinking about the similarities between Montana and the Caribbean was the responses to the Whalefriends ad on the youtube site — as disturbing as the ad itself. Is this a persuasive ad for people in the Caribbean? Does it come across as a bludgeon? Now, I’m reading that the Antiguan Ambassador to Japan is serving as the Chairman for the International Whaling Commission meeting that’s coming up — and had his hotel paid for by the Japanese. Very sad.

Meantime, I hope the whaling ban stays in place and I want to save the wolves and not for stew. I skipped the tee shirt and left the bar without a word, wondering how, in the grand scheme, people like my wolf stew loving acquaintance and I can come together.


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