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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Saturday, April 09, 2005

cane toads and Bush's America

Recently Tim Blair took one of Australia's most prominent left wing media pundits Phillip Adams to task for claiming that the infamous and ubiquitous cane toad (Bufo marinus) was an imported "US critter".

In a piece on the Academy Awards, Adams, in his usual style, declared:

So let’s see the Oscars for what they are – symbols of US hegemony and, as such, about as desirable, attractive and threatening as that other US critter, the cane toad.

In pointing out Adams' careless linking of Oscar and Bufo as fellow symbols of imperialist Yankee domination, Blair may be making a mountain out of a toad hill. He links to a website examining invasive species in Australia that states that the cane toad was introduced to northern Australia in 1935 from Hawaii. In 1935 of course Hawaii was not yet a fully-fledged American state notes Blair triumphantly... and correctly.

But one could argue that if this was the full story Tim Blair is really just splitting hairs... or toads perhaps, a popular Queensland pastime (don't ask). Hawaii was nevertheless a U.S. controlled territory at the time.

But the simple fact is that cane toads are not native to Hawaii. The toads might have been imported from Hawaii but they were an introduced species in that locale just as they were to be in Australia - and for the same reason, the control of the sugar cane beetle.

The cane toad is the most widespread Latin American amphibian, native to Mexico and other parts of Central and South America. It's natural distribution extends from northern Peru in South America, through Central America to the very southern part of Texas in the United States where they can be found in areas around the Rio Grande. They have subsequently been introduced into Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Phillipines, Australia, and Florida.

Adams gets away with calling the despised Bufo a a nasty Yank soley because of this slender Rio Grande connection, but it is a bit of a stretch for anyone to hold up this beast as a recognisable "US critter" on the basis of a few populations adjoining the Mexican border. Still, this is too good an opportunity for Adams to let pass. After all he has so little time and so much Bush bashing to do. So he migrates Bufo northward, just like that other "invasion" of Central and South American "illegal immigrants". The fact is that Latin America, the home of millions of the poor and oppressed with whom Phillip Adams presumably professes solidarity, is also the native place of a creature which has been a destructive menace and plague just about everywhere it has been introduced. When you've got airspace and coumn inches to fill, any straw, no matter how slender, will be grasped in pursuit of you mission to bring about the downfall of the most evil empire in the entire world, ever, period.

Over in the alternative universe of Hollyworld one wonders if the all-pervasive liberals who award each other Oscars for making serious liberal message movies, realise just how much their efforts are mere tools of the right-wing, fundamentalist military/industrial capitalist hegemony.

2:13:00 pm