Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mating Habits of Elephants

In their natural habitats, mature female elephants come into estrus (heat) a few days every year. For this specie estrus marks a period of ovulation during which the elephants are ready to mate and possibly get pregnant. Elephants are interesting animals. They are highly intelligent and very social and have cohesive family units. The family unit is usually led by the matriarch who leads the entire herd in search of food and water. Elephants are gentle yet very strong animals. Typically, elephants are somewhat similar across the globe. From Africa to Asia, similar behavioral traits are obvious among elephants. However, while elephants across the globe are alike American elephants differ markedly. The mating habits of the American elephant is shrouded in secrecy and cloaked with hypocrisy and lies. Often, their mating sites are discovered, resulting in huge news stories, resignations from office, public apologies and lots of damage control.

A few days after the death of Strom Thurmond, a story that would forever change his legacy broke. Strom Thurmond always had very strange mating habits. But what differs markedly in his case was there was as absence of a public apology. Not that he would have given one had the knowledge of his first child become public before his passing. Thurmond was in his time the foremost crusader for segregation and still holds the record for the longest filibuster ever by a United States Senator in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. For all Senator Thurmond's crusading he lived by a double standard. He nonetheless managed to keep the fact that he had fathered a child with his parent's maid when he was a young lad a secret. His relations with the maid Carrie Butler would result in the birth of his daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams who was adopted by Butler's uncle and aunt. Although Senator Thurmond did not actively play a role in the upbringing of his child he supported her financially and granted her access to him that led many to suspect that she was more than just a loyal constituent. If hypocrisy didn't have a definition, I would put Strom Thurmond's name as a reference. He severely hindered the progress of African-Americans in the United States. First from South Carolina, and when that platform became too small, from the floor of the United States Capitol. Thurmond did all this hoisting the banner of the Republican party. A party which all too often has produced men and sometimes women like Thurmond who find it hard to practice what they preach. Such is the nature of American elephants.

Then there was Mark Foley. Everyone who worked with and knew Mark Foley knew he was gay. Everyone except for Mark Foley. Foley was born in the Florida town of Lake Worth to Irish Catholic parents who raised him as a devout Catholic lad. Foley lived the life of the astute Catholic boy marked by service in the Catholic church and attendance at Sacred Heart Catholic School. It was at school that Foley crossed paths with the school priest The Reverend Anthony Mercieca. It was with Mercieca that Foley began a journey of sexual exploration. Mercieca would often take the impressionable Foley on trips that involved sauna baths in the nude, trips his parents unwittingly encouraged. Trips and events that became etched in Foley's psyche and were reproduced when he began fraternizing with young male Congressional pages. Events that would lead Foley to enacting tough laws in Congress. Laws that were meant to prevent young boys like Foley from falling prey to sexual predators like Mercieca. However, Foley's laws were not passed quickly enough to prevent him from morphing into a twenty-first century Mercieca. Foley's life did not end on September 28, 2006 when the story about his inappropriate instant messaging with Congressional pages became public. Let's just say we became privy to the mating habit of an American elephant from Florida. Foley unlike Thurmond is different because he actually passed laws that could lead to his own prosecution. At least Thurmond's laws halted the progress of African-Americans but Foley's were his own death sentence signed with his own blood. While he served in the House Foley developed a reputation as the foremost crusader against child pornography and at one point developed an interest in reviewing a nudist resort for teenagers in Florida. For the landmarks he achieved he signed his one sentence resignation letter when it became apparent that his refusal to do so without prompting could become fodder for a huge public scandal in the Republican party.

The Thurmond scandal and the Foley story are somewhat stale but there's always fresh news in the American savannah. The newest story is about a 17 year old recently engaged or soon-to-be married daughter of the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Historically, the Republican Party has always pushed for family values. However, as though anticipating Sarah Palin's grandchild and the ensuing scandal, they have campaigned less on family values in this election. Understandably, there are more important problems like the economy and the war, so family values can take the back burner. It's quite interesting that the mainstream media has shied away from labeling Bristol Palin as an out-of-wedlock mother a term reserved for low-income earning, projects dwelling, wayward teenagers and instead has chosen to refer to her as newly engaged or soon-to-be married. Put an end to the drama, she is a 17 year old who was sleeping around while her mother was spreading the message of abstinence to Alaskan public schools. I respect her for keeping her child, but most girls in the African-American community keep theirs as well. Yet, they earn the title baby mamas, which although is less derogatory still bears the stench of illegitimacy. In a few months Sarah Palin will welcome what may be her second grandchild because for all we know Trig maybe her first. The stories are as colorful as the individuals but the mating habits remain the same. American elephants scattered across the terrain have similar mating behaviors.

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