by Doctor Science
On Wednesday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz put this up on his official Facebook page:
The post received thousands of comments, most of them very negative, from Republicans as well as Democrats. I personally was particularly appalled because, like Cruz, I also am a Princeton alumn, and we tend to feel pretty protective about tigers. I'm sure the Princeton connection was one reason Cruz wanted the picture, but he really should have known better than to pose with the corpse of an endangered species.
Per the Washington Post:
Cruz’s spokeswoman Catharine Frazier says he was kidding, and had no intention of bringing the tiger pelt back to Washington. He had hosted a fundraiser in his home state for Lee and “they ran across it in Houston and took a picture.”I notice that she did not say whether he (or Lee) had actually purchased the rug. The photo appears to have been taken in an office, not a shop.
This is kind of important, because (as Examiner reporter Mark Whittington notes, in some of the best reporting on the issue)
The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has made trade in tiger skins illegal, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since Cruz, being a lawyer, would know this so it is unlikely that he would pose next to an illegal rug. The item is either an antique, that is to say a rug taken from a tiger before the ban, or it is fake.The Washington Post updated the story:
In the case of an antique rug, some sort of proof or provenance would have to be included that the item was not taken from a tiger after the ban was imposed, with the USFWS approving the sale in advance.
Frazier, Cruz’s spokeswoman, wrote to us that the office is not defensive of the picture.I don't know what "not defensive of the picture" means: 'We admit the picture is indefensible, and we're not going to try'? or 'We don't think the picture needs defending'?
“It’s unfortunate the same outrage isn’t displayed by the left when it comes to defending the lives of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies aborted every year,” she said in an email.
The bit about 'the left' and abortion is an egregious deflection. Much of the criticism has come from Republicans and conservatives, not from 'the left'. And why should an act that is both illegal and immoral be excused by one that's legal but, in your opinion, immoral?
I've search online, and I cannot find *any* fake tiger skin rugs for sale in the US (or elsewhere) which have such a realistic head, with the mouth open and teeth exposed. As far as I can tell, this look is exclusively found in real (or mostly real) tiger skins. Absent examination by an expert, I assume that the skin is from a real tiger.
This raises a number of questions that qualified reporters might want to look into:
a) Did either Senator Lee or Senator Cruz buy actually buy the rug? If so, who was the seller? What was the provenance?
b) If the rug didn't change hands but was located in an office the Senators were visiting, who owns it? Presumably the owner is a Republican donor; are they willing to step forward?
I personally think it unlikely that either Senator made an impulse purchase of a tiger skin rug, because they're very valuable and come with a *lot* of paperwork. I imagine that they did, in fact, just happen to see the rug and *wished* that they'd been able to buy it, because tigers are cool.
The fact that tigers are also a seriously endangered species doesn't seem to have crossed their minds. On the contrary, Senator Cruz thinks American small businesses are the "real" endangered species , not, y'know, actual species. But although I think it unlikely that Cruz will ever come to care about endangered species, or be smart enough to act like he does, I'm heartened that so many Republicans do care, whether it's their party's policy or not.