There is such a thing as animal racism ... according to one NRA lobbyist, anyway.
An NRA-sponsored show on NBC Sports Network, Under Wild Skies, is under petition for cancellation after gun lobbyist and host Tony Makris shot an elephant in the face and then casually drank champagne. The elephant was shot in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Makris used a rifle and .577 ammunition, and shamelessly boasted about killing it for ivory. NBC Sports Network has agreed not to air the particular episode again, but acknowledges that this practice is legal.
Makris is a legislative and public relations strategist who has helped manage the NRA's brand for the last 30 years. In an interview with the NRA talk show host Cam Edwards, Makris made a comment that most would find peculiar,in response to animal rights activists who are appalled at Makris shooting an elephant. Makris explains that he's a hunter and shoots all things, and when people begin to pick and choose what to shoot, this becomes what he describes as "a very unique form of animal racism."
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Makris seems to struggle with differentiation between animal species. Outrage over his actions has nothing to do with racism, but rather with the fact that elephants are becoming an endangered species. Also, these magnificent creatures are considered highly intelligent and self-aware mammals.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, elephants are considered vulnerable. With authorities in Zimbabwe stating that poachers seeking ivory had used cyanide to poison at least 81 elephants and the outrage over the broadcast shooting of an elephant, the government of Botswana announced that it would ban commercial hunting by January 2014.
According to Live Science, elephants have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, joining only humans, apes, and dolphins as animals that possess this type of self-awareness. Researchers link this kind of self-awareness to complex brains that are capable of empathy and altruism.
Makris, though, went on to say that by placing animals in some tier system, these animal rights activists are as cruel as Hitler.
“And now they're shocked,” Makris added. "And they [animal advocates] said, 'But they're so big and special and they’re smarter.'"
"And I went, 'You know, Hitler would have said the same thing.'"
It's shocking that Makris doesn’t realize that humans are also mammals, and by his own accord, we should be able to treat each other the same way he treats birds. His attitude seems about right for an individual who has been head of brand management for the NRA.