Racism is alive and well in California government. Thriving even.
First, there are the fish and game racists. In the private sector, we used to call them bass snobs or trout snobs, but I think the term ‘racist’ is better for people who hate one type of fish or bird but love another. The fish racists hate to the point of wanting to wipe whole species out of lakes or rivers. The Department of Fish and Wildlife is increasingly composed of fish and game racists, so I guess this type of racism has been cultivated in the fishing and hunting community by the state agency over the past 50 years. No long ago, the DFW wiped out a whole lake filled with northern pike, a non-native gamefish. The agency was worried the non-native pike might get into the Delta and impact native fishes. They killed all the fish in the lake in the process, including the natives. Never mind that the Delta has been so dramatically damaged by water diversions, dredging, channelization, and so much more as to be a biological shadow of its former self. In typical government fashion, the DFW treats the potential arm scratch instead of the ongoing massive heart attack.
From a pike or pike angler perspective, I guess the question is simply how long must a non-native be here before they are granted some sort of biological citizenship, allowed to live in their adopted home, and given the same rights and protections as natives. How far back in time do we go to determine this sort of thing? Ever? There are newcomers within the DFW who insist turkeys were not native to California and should never have been released here, but turkeys almost identical to those who live here today are one of the most common species found in the La Brea Tar Pits. We currently manage striped bass and shad in the Delta as though they are natives, but they’re not. The agency currently thinks less of native squawfish because they have bigger impacts on native salmon and steelhead than the non-natives. Will that change in the new, enlightened agency? Will they want to get rid of striped bass and shad under the guise of protecting the natives and increase protections on squawfish to the detriment of the other natives. We’ve increased protections on ravens to the massive detriment of the tortoise population, but both are natives.
The state DFW embraced chukar for a lot of years and made them a game bird with seasons and bag limits. But the National Park Service staff would really like to see them disappear from the Mojave National Preserve because they are non-natives. There are some within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (mostly in the Carlsbad office) and Cuyamaca State Park staff that want turkeys eliminated from the state park and other public lands. They’re pounding the non-native drum, too. Neither has been shown to negatively impact any native species, so will these undocumented residents ever get equal status with the natives. Or is this mostly about a hatred of non-natives and human hunters who appreciate these birds?
With the Human Society firmly entrenched as a part of the DFW today, it probably won’t be long before we’ll have some sort of turkey and chukar eradications, mostly because it will impact legal sport hunting, which HSUS despises. You don’t even want to bring up the feral, non-native hogs, now living wild on the Cleveland National Forest. They were introduced into San Diego County by native Americans, and that brings up all kinds of questions about a whole another kind of racism. The native Americans were here first and technically that region is their land, right? But I’m sure the government will find a way to argue those who released the pigs are not really native Americans because their ancestors came across a land bridge or via boats back before anyone kept records of such things, so maybe the agencies can dodge that racism issue completely and continue their fish and game racism.
Second, there are gun racists. Following the same theme as fish and game racism, the legislature is filled with gun racists. They think some guns are better or worse than others and are in the process of banning whole classes of inanimate objects in a sort of ethnic cleansing. These gun control bills are also about prejudice against real people, people who own those firearms. (I’d call it racism, but it is prejudice against all races who also happen to be legal, law-abiding gun owners). The legislators know literally nothing about firearms but want to tell gun owners which types of their guns are somehow responsible for mass shootings and could possibly make them go Postal one day because these non-gun owners apparently intuitively know evil when they see it. These guns are evil. They apparently don’t see evil in violent movies or kitchen knives or hammers — the latter two are directly responsible for more murders each year than rifles of all types, not just those horrible semi-automatics that can hold a detachable 10-round magazine. But those are facts, and racism and prejudice are blind to facts. They want to ban the evil guns and register those who buy ammunition, but no one suggests banning kitchen knives or setting up a registry of hammer owners. No one suggests regulating the content of violent movies that fills the heads of the mentally ill with inspiration and validation.
These people never really consider that we have too much violence in movies, television, modern music, and video games, or that our mental health care system is a failure, or that too many doctors prescribe the wrong drugs to people with everything from job stress and depression to bipolar disorders, or that so many things that have far more to do with the problem than semi-automatic guns that can be reloaded rapidly. (The most recent Santa Monica shooting was done with a gun illegal in California already, but could have just as easily been accomplished with a gun that will continue to be legal, even after the latest round of laws.) Gun owners and outdoorsmen need to remember that political wildlife management and the push for more gun control are fundamentally based on racism and prejudice, which isn’t based on facts. We need to point that out to others who don’t care about guns or hunting or fishing or wildlife but have common sense.
A lot of people in this state aren’t paying attention to the racism and prejudice because those of us impacted by what’s happening in Sacramento are a minority. At what point does everyone wake up and start recognizing these things as state-sanctioned discrimination (if not outright racism). It has gone on in government for a lot of years on a lot of fronts, but that small snowball rolling down the hill is turning into an avalanche in Sacramento and Washington D.C. If we don’t point this out to our non-gun owning friends, to our non-hunting or fishing friends, the discrimination will continue to spread until it impacts everyone in some way or other. Your phones might be illegally monitored, or your government might illegally sell guns to drug dealers in Mexico to push an agenda. The next thing you know the IRS will be targeting you because you question how government is conducting its business. The slippery slope is becoming a landslide.