I posted it on Twitter and someone else sent me a link showing that it’s true. Six out of the 14 votes in the European parliament against combating the illegal ivory trade came from Ukip – including Nigel Farage. This is morally repugnant. Perhaps they voted that way because they oppose forcing Western cultural values on African countries, but I doubt it.
Expect Ukip to explain that they always vote against anything that expands EU power. As a passionate anti-EU conservative, I appreciate that stance. But when it comes to taking action against something as squalid as the ivory trade, even this rabid patriot would compromise my anti-EU principles. What next? Refusing to uphold a ban on child labour?
A great number of Ukip supporters are troubled about immigration and want to protect British sovereignty. But they’re not barbarians. The ivory trade represents the callous exploitation of innocent creatures for profit and every sane, civilised person opposes it. Given the Right’s traditional loathing of horse meat and love of donkey sanctuaries, I think this could lose Ukip a few votes in May. Seriously, it’s not cool and – for once when it comes to Ukip – definitely not funny.
Can we think of a moral and principled reason, something beyond just a plague on all that the EU does, for opposing a “combat against the illegal ivory trade”?
Why, yes, we can. We could, for example, note that it is the eating of beef that increases the number of cows out there, the use of wool that has increased the number of sheep, the joy that we take in slobbering kisses that has increased the number of dogs.
That is, that when humans gain something of value from an animal then we tend to make sure that the population of that animal increases. We’ve even got a name for the process: “farming”.
So, if we desire to either protect the current number of elephants, or perhaps to increase it, then a logical plan would be to farm elephants for those things which they produce of value. Some part of that is simply the tourism opportunity to stand next to them and say “God, innit big?”. More would be the use of hides from culled animals, the eating of the meat. And, obviously, the use of that most valuable part, the ivory.
That is, that making the ivory trade illegal prevents anyone from profiting from the raising of elephants. Which means that no one does. And thus voting against the ivory trade being illegal is a just and moral position to take. The real statement being made here is that those who would ban, are banning, the ivory trade are ignorant cunts working towards the extinction of the entire species.
But then expecting an historian of American culture (and there’s a shallow subject for you) to understand how the world really works is possibly being a bit hopeful on my part.