The Equal Opportunity Slayer? NRA Lobbyist Reportedly Compares Critics Of Shooting Elephants For Fun to Racists and Hitler

Unknown220px-Tanzanian_ElephantIf you recall, last week we discussed how NBC Sports Network was airing an episode of “Under Wild Skies” that showed NRA lobbyist Tony Makris shooting an elephant in the face and then celebrating with champagne. NBC has issued a convoluted statement that promises not to air the episode but the far more interesting statement came from Makris who reportedly condemned those who object to shooting elephants for fun.

NBC seemed intent to emphasize that shooting elephants in the face is perfectly legal (at least until 2014 when a moratorium kicks in):

“We’ve listened to our viewers and will not air that particular episode of ‘Under Wild Skies’ again. We’re also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process because this content should not have aired . . . While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of ‘Under Wild Skies’ and other series.”

Well, it is good that NBC was able to listen to viewers to learn that many people would find it disturbing to see its host sneak up on an elephant, shoot it in the face, then shoot it again when it fled in pain, and then chased it down to finish it off . . . before celebrating the victory over some champagne. Absent hearing from viewers, no one at NBC appears to have had an inkling about this being somehow disturbing.

For his part, Makris, the NRA lobbyist, was not content to take his one-tusked trophy and go home. Makris insisted that he kills all animals equally: ducks, deer, elephants. That appears to make him a type of gun-toting Martin Luther King by embracing all of the beautiful creatures of the Earth and then shooting them in the face. Those who distinguish elephants from deer on the basis for their rarity or intelligence are engaging in his view in a form of “animal racism.” The only way to be a non-racist, it seems, is to kill them all.

Makris is quoted in an interview:

“And they said, ‘but [elephants are] so big and special and they’re smarter,'” Makris recalled of a recent discussion with a detractor. “And I went, ‘you know, Hitler would have said the same thing.'”

So let’s get this straight. People objecting to shooting elephants (one year before such trophy hunts are prohibited) constitute little Hitlers?

That is the man selected by NBC for its new show. In any event, if NBC wanted to hear from their viewers, they have succeeded. Over 60,000 have signed a petition to get NBC to cancel the show.

I expect that Makris may have been deliberately provocative or even humorous but it is unlikely to be welcomed by the rising number of critics for the show. Here is a fuller account of the interview:

MAKRIS: The nice ones will come up and go, you shoot elephant? Why? And I said well, the short answer is because hungry people eat them and because I’m a hunter. You know, I’m not an elephant hunter. I’m a hunter. I hunt all things. And they go, well nobody should shoot an elephant. I said, why? And they go they’re so big and kind and gentle and smart and I said, okay, let me ask you a question. Should I be able to shoot birds? Well, I guess that’s okay. Ducks? Yeah. Pigeons? Oh, they’re flying rats, okay. Rabbits? Well rabbits are cute. But yea. Squirrels? That’s nothing but a rat with a tail — with a fuzzy tail. And I said, well deer eat all my mother’s roses in Long Island and I go– so I can shoot all of those, but not an elephant? No. Do you realize that if you subscribe to that philosophy you are committing a very unique form of animal racism?

CAM EDWARDS, HOST: [laughter]

MAKRIS: And now they’re shocked. And they said but they’re so big and special and they’re smarter. And I went, you know, Hitler would have said the same thing.

45 thoughts on “The Equal Opportunity Slayer? NRA Lobbyist Reportedly Compares Critics Of Shooting Elephants For Fun to Racists and Hitler

  1. I could not understand from this article what Makris was trying to say. Following is the full quote which makes it much more understandable.

    MAKRIS: The nice ones will come up and go, you shoot elephant? Why? And I said well, the short answer is because hungry people eat them and because I’m a hunter. You know, I’m not an elephant hunter. I’m a hunter. I hunt all things. And they go, well nobody should shoot an elephant. I said, why? And they go they’re so big and kind and gentle and smart and I said, okay, let me ask you a question. Should I be able to shoot birds? Well, I guess that’s okay. Ducks? Yeah. Pigeons? Oh, they’re flying rats, okay. Rabbits? Well rabbits are cute. But yea. Squirrels? That’s nothing but a rat with a tail — with a fuzzy tail. And I said, well deer eat all my mother’s roses in Long Island and I go– so I can shoot all of those, but not an elephant? No. Do you realize that if you subscribe to that philosophy you are committing a very unique form of animal racism?

    CAM EDWARDS, HOST: [laughter]

    MAKRIS: And now they’re shocked. And they said but they’re so big and special and they’re smarter. And I went, you know, Hitler would have said the same thing.

    His point is that Hitler claimed certain races of people were superior to others. Makris wonders why it is okay for him to shoot rats, deer, etc. but not elephants. Would there have been an uproar if the show was about him hunting deer?

  2. Later in the interview, Makris also mentions that the elephant population in Botswana is 150,000 to 180,000. The desired population level would be closer to 30,000 to 40,000. He said that the government shoots elephants from helicopters to control elephant populations. The overpopulation of elephants causes deaths and severe injuries as well as destruction of property and natural habitat. So elephant hunting is considered a form of conservation management much like alligator hunting is in Florida or wolf hunting up north.

  3. DavidM,

    As usual, you show that except for show purposes, you have the empathy of a sociopath and the conscience of a psychotic. Harsh words perhaps I’ll admit, but sadly true given your production here. The only other possibility I entertain is that you are a Tea Party operative. You of course would defend “the great white hunter” orgasming as he blows yet another animal away. I get sport hunting when it deals with either food, or some danger to the hunter, ergo sport. I love duck for instance and I understand that some people might enjoy venison. However, with people like Mr. Makris and perhaps yourself there is no line drawn because the kill is what excites them emotionally. They (you perhaps?) love to kill something alive. This may well be a genetic trait from our predator forebears, but it has become a regressive one for the society of humanity in general. If he claims it as a sport them let him do it with a spear as our long lost ancestors did.

  4. Well, what did you expect?

    The NRA’s feigned outrage did not create the desired results. Plan B is to make the most ridiculous strawman ever created and bank on the public’s critical-thinking deficit to do the rest. Big game, big strawman, little shmeckle.

    This guy probably says “that’s what Hitler would do” to everything he disagrees with. Maybe he sees himself as the anti-Hitler?

  5. It’s the same small minded tactic used by Wall Street banksters and crooks. Blankfein says he and his cronies at Goldman are doing God’s work when in fact they are robbing the taxpayer blind and getting away with economic crimes. Or recently when AIG’s Robert Benmosche compared Anger over AIG bonuses ‘just as bad’ as lynchings http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/24/aig-ceo-anger-over-aig-bonuses-just-as-bad-as-lynchings/

    It’s an old game, similar to the shell game; distract and confuse, except the elephant killer supporter and the banksters aren’t considered real cons like the shell game hosts, even though the damage they create is far worse.

  6. The commenters here gave David a vaccime:

    vaccime (pron. vak-seem)

    Any meta-meme which confers resistance or immunity to one or more memes, allowing that person to be exposed without acquiring an active infection …

    (Memetic Lexicon).

    Good.

  7. Mike,

    Yes, he most certainly is!

    Here are two videos about Tarra and Bella–an elephant and dog who were best friends:

    The Animal Odd Couple

    Elephant Mourns Loss of Canine Companion: Tarra And Bella, Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee

  8. I observe that nobody has addressed the facts. It was pointed out that the area he was hunting is OVERPOPULATED by elephants. It seems to me to be a good thing to make some money and save some money for the government to allow hunting to cull the herds. None of this guys detractors take issue or suggest any other solution to the overpopulation problem. Think that third world countries should feed all the elephants? Or maybe it is more humane to let them starve to death as we do for deer in this country. Then there is the problem of such large numbers of elephants destroying the crops on which humans depend to their survival. I suppose that the detractors will not shed a tear over starving humans, or they would be raising funds to feed all those people who are suffering great damage done by elephants.

  9. @Randyjet, that’s because it was presented in an emotional way to try to make the NRA look like the bad guy.

    The statement that they were killing for “fun” was meant to stir up resentment, even though I doubt that they could read a person’s mind.

    I believe hunting should be for food, not for “fun”, but hunting is just natural & nature’s way for predators. (Even us.)
    Of course when you have overpopulation Conservation Officers will allow thinning of herds, so they don’t starve or destroy more crops.

    Hunters actually save species of wildlife through their purchase of licenses & stamps.

    And of course death is just the other side of the coin of life, but some people just have a hard time accepting that fact.

  10. Mike Spindell wrote: ” I get sport hunting when it deals with either food, or some danger to the hunter, ergo sport. I love duck for instance and I understand that some people might enjoy venison.”

    Did you know the local people there ate the elephant he killed? If your concession here is honest, that should affect your assessment.

    My comments were meant to supply some missing facts. The paucity of evidence for the other side of the story in the article published above, and evidence of a severely edited quotation to make Makris look absolutely evil and irrational, caused me to do some more digging. I have learned in life that there are always two sides to a dispute. I’m pretty sure you have learned that as well in your line of work. In this case, we are dealing with a country which has an overpopulation of elephants which are killing and injuring people. Just in the last 10 years, the population has more than doubled. One man had to have his leg amputated from an injury. They are also causing destruction to crops. The government is interested in tourism, so they opened up sport hunting of the elephants in the 1990’s, limiting the hunts to 80 elephants per year. With a population of 150,000, and the need to cull the herds, the hunting has had virtually no effect on reducing the population. I hardly see how this one elephant kill which resulted in food for the locals is the egregious crime that it is being portrayed to be.

    As for the 2014 hunting moratorium in Botswana, it affects all hunting, not just elephants. The government wants to enhance tourism which focuses upon photography rather than hunting. Hunting was deemed not a significant help in wildlife management. I imagine it is a Public Relations liability to the government as well.

  11. John, I read that Botswana was receiving close to a million dollars in hunting licenses, but they are giving all that up. They are closing all hunting, starting Jan. 1, 2014. Critics say it will hurt tourism, but the government thinks it will help tourism be less seasonal, and they predict increased tourists who will want to photograph wildlife. Time will tell us who is right.

  12. John,
    “I believe hunting should be for food, not for “fun”, but hunting is just natural & nature’s way for predators. (Even us.)”

    That’s not an excuse for stupid, cruel behavior. Many disgusting human practices can be excused as “natural.”
    Even the nasty rifle with which this coward shot the elephant, can be regarded as “natural,” because humans invented it, using their “natural” brains.
    The natural brains of humans also equipped them to form societies and codes of ethics, and to stop weaseling out of blame for committing atrocities. This guy’s an NRA weasel. The NRA’s full of them.

    It’s OK. The NRA is just “natural.” Weasels can’t be blamed for what they do. So they tell us.

  13. They do not have an over population of elephants, rather, they are the only country that doesn’t have an elephant population in decline (when they are in Botswana bc elephants migrate frequently) because poaching was close to impossible due to armed conflicts and the remoteness of the elephant populated areas.

    Killing an elephant, particularly the dominant male in a herd, can play havoc with a population by creating a scenario where the young males run wild, hurting females or even other species, such as rhinos and possibly people. Plus, when they are hunted, elephants die in great pain because it takes a long time for them to die….far different than hunting a bird or even a deer. And let’s not forget that an elephant hunt costs $65,000.

    If this NRA clown kills all animals equally, and it doesn’t matter how intelligent, large or special they are, I guess it’s only a matter of time before he’s hunting humans (I mean, no one should be an animal racist).

  14. Do people REALLY eat elephants? I have heard a lot about their ivory being valued, but in most photos you see, the ivory is removed and the body is left to rot. I rarely see villagers in the area then carving up the animal for dinner. The contrarians here are sounding somewhat confused;
    either elephants are greatly needed for food, in which case their population would be scant, or elephants are in great supply, and therefore need to be culled. Neither is addressing the fact that shooting one simply for sport (and I might add, an animal that possibly is as smart or smarter than a human) is not particularly manly. In fact, given Mr. Macris’s comments since the furor arose, he seems particularly thin skinned. His juvenile need to become a “big game hunter” along with his puerile response to the criticism makes me think that he might have done poorly in Kindergarten, and has spent much of his life trying to compensate for that.

  15. Steven wrote: “They do not have an over population [sic] of elephants, rather, they are the only country that doesn’t have an elephant population in decline…”

    Only country where elephants are not in decline? Very misleading words. In Botswana, the elephant population increased 297% from 1992 to 2012. For those mathematically challenged, that means there are three times as many elephants in Botswana than there were 20 years ago. Conservationists should take a bow. It is similar to how alligators in the Southern U.S. were an endangered species in 1973, but now they have made a huge comeback and have become a nuisance. Every day people call their government to come remove alligators. Many thousands are removed every year.

    Also, claiming that Botswana is the only country where elephants are not in decline is false. The population of elephants in Namibia also have been increasing:
    http://www.elephantdatabase.org/preview_report/2013_africa/Loxodonta_africana/2012/Africa/Southern_Africa/Namibia

    There are other countries as well. Just do a little research. It is not that hard to discover.

    You may want to read the following article to understand better the costs to humans living with elephants.

    http://agecon.ucdavis.edu/people/faculty/lovell-jarvis/docs/elephant/sutton.pdf

  16. @chestercat1 –

    Following is a news article from 2007 that you might be interested in:

    “A typical forest elephant, which weighs 5,000 to 6,000 pounds and produces 1,000 or so pounds of edible meat, can earn a poacher up to $180 for the ivory and as much as $6,000 for the meat.”

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/19075813/#.Ukmyk9IqgU8

    And you might like reading the following account from someone who posted to Yahoo Answers:

    In 1979, I went on a trip with a lifelong friend who was a Photographer for National Geographic Magazine, to Nairobi, Kenya, for a month. While there my friend Kurt and I were invited to go along with a British Governmemt Wildlife Agent/Hunter that was responsible for locating a “Rogue” Male Elephant that had destroyed several villages a few weeks earlier, and killed a small boy..

    On day three the Elephant was located and I got to watch from a distance while the Wildlife Officer shot and killed the Elephant with 2 shots from a 375 H&H Double Rifle from about 55 yards away….

    It took 25 villagers over 20 hours to field dress and cut up the Elephant. NOTHING went to waste, organs,fat,bone,even the bone marrow were all used .The Elephant was determined to weigh just over 6100 LBS, and yielded about 1300-1400 LBS of edible meat. The meat was a Dark Redish/ Purple running thru it. For lack of a better description, it looked like blood-bruised meat, but VERY lean with little fat. The exposed side of the Elephant was butchered first than the side that was on the ground was exposed after 40+ villagers pulled the carcass over to expose the side that was on the ground with ropes. I remember the Heart weighed 22 KG which converts to 48 LBS (If my math is correct) I didn’t get to sample the heart-meat

    The Government Agent advised that the meat would feed a minimum of 240 villagers for a month if it was rationed properly by the tribesmen. There was a big celebration to which I and my friend were invited too. The meat was first smoked over green wood for several hours, then cooked in strips over an open fire….To everyones disasppointment it DIDN’T taste like Chicken…lol The closest thing I can compare it to is “stringy” Moose or Elk meat or even Buffalo..It tasted somewhat “gamey” but it wasn’t repulsive. I also learned that the Ivory was valuable 12″ Tusks would have brought $800 or so on the Black Market, but the Elephant meat was worth much more. In the City of Nairobi, Elephant meat brought $32-$40 US a pound.(Even more if smuggled out of Africa) Back in the late 70’s the average daily wage was only $1 U.S.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080309170009AARnUCC

  17. **chestercat1 1, September 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Do people REALLY eat elephants?**

    I forget what they’re called, but if you search back though Britain’s, Spain’s, etc., Ship’s Logs from their Navies you’ll see after about 14-15 days of starvation you would also eat your shipmate.

    Draw a straw anyone?

    On an interesting side note there are at least a couple of historians that argue that if only the Donner Party would have eaten the fattest among them first more would have survived.

    I go even further, that if we as a people consumed & eat the corrupt Wallst/City of London Banks & Insurance Co’s both the animals & the people of the world would likely survive longer!
    :)

    Now, about the Bush family ties buying many of the US weapon mfgs a few years back & the current looting of Africa for Wallst/CoLondon/Saudis corporate interest….more

    In the big book of things of millions of pages last week’s article we basically got one sentence in the scheme of things.

    This week we get one more line.

    I suggest we can hardly form a firm opinion/argument based on so little facts.

    I know Tanzania & their govt is attempting to do a decent job of manage wildlife & economic interest.

  18. **I forget what they’re called, but if you search back though Britain’s, Spain’s, etc., Ship’s Logs from their Navies you’ll see after about 14-15 days of starvation you would also eat your shipmate. **

    It may be longer?

    How long did that sports team that survive a plane crashing into the mountain in South America go hungry before they went cannibal?

  19. Dear Mr. Makris:

    Might I ask, how many birds are there? How many ducks? Pigeons? Rabits, squirrels, and deer/

    How many elephants are there? More than numbers separate the elephants from the animals you named.

    Would you care to know what else? No, you wouldn’t, being that you are probably a psychopath and couldn’t care less that an elephant is much more like people than the others you named.

    Meet the amazing creature you killed –

    http://www.livescience.com/4272-elephant-awareness-mirrors-humans.html

    I understand animal over-population issues, and I understand hunting as a game management tool and revenue enhancer for game protective services, and I understand the short term side benefits of employing and feeding the locals, and I appreciate fair chase hunting.

    What I can’t understand is . . . champagne? This is how you celebrate the harvest of such a noble animal? You, sir, are a poor, soulless shadow of a man destined to never know your place.

    These are wasted sentiments, but might I suggest you read some of the works of Aldo Leopold. In them you will find words such as these –

    “Thinking like a Mountain
    We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.…I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.”
    ― A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River

    I hunt. I have shot my share of small game, turkey and deer, and some elk. Celebrations are few and muted, prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving more prevalent. I hunt, hopefully, for the protection of the mountain.

    I started writing this piece nearly weeping for the elephant. I now feel the need to weep for you. You’ve no idea what you are missing.

    I pity you.

  20. And Davidm2757 is correct (gotta give credit where credit is due), there is an overpopulation of elephants in Africa and especially Botswana (paradoxically because its long and violent civil conflicts kept poachers at bay). Most of the overpopulation is due to loss of habitat — the animals, not their numbers, are huge and the land base to support them has shrunk.

    Absent some (hellaciously expensive) advance on the habitat front, the only option for the maintenance of healthy elephant herds is culling — cows and calves by government teams and the bulls by hunters who pay out the nose for the privilege.

    Reminds me of those best interest determinations in child welfare cases, where best interest of the child’s placement was usually a choice between really crappy alternatives.

  21. “Most of the overpopulation is due to loss of habitat — the animals, not their numbers, are huge and the land base to support them has shrunk.”

    That was stated awkwardly. If elephants were free to roam over their original ranges there would be no over-population issue at current levels.

    However, the over-population problem may actually sort itself out if weonly do nothing. See–

    http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=1348&cookieConsent=A

  22. There’s rampant overpopulation, for sure. Of humans.

    That’ll take care of itself, but, unfortunately, they’ll take innocent animals to extinction with them.

    Makris wants to have a little sadistic “fun” before the party’s over.

  23. Bob Kauten,

    Right. We destroy/take over their habitat and then say they are overpopulating the area. The 1% will probably be saying the same thing soon about poor and middle class humans.

  24. “Did you know the local people there ate the elephant he killed? If your concession here is honest, that should affect your assessment.”

    David,

    I believe that the killing of elephants shouldn’t be allowed. just as I believe that humans should not be allowed to kill whales or dolphins. Then again I could never personally kill a mammal unless under direct attack. Call me illogical, call me irresponsible, but that’s my judgment. The idea of hurting an animal is quite disturbing to me and yet I’m not a vegetarian. The idea of shooting an elephant in the face disgusts me, but perhaps you and others would enjoy it.

  25. Mike Spindell wrote: “The idea of hurting an animal is quite disturbing to me and yet I’m not a vegetarian.”

    I certainly understand. I enjoy fishing, but I am not a hunter. I use artificial baits and most of the time I practice catch and release. I just enjoy the adventure of it. Sometimes I do trade my catch for food at a local restaurant because the owners always ask me to bring them some fish or scallops and I would prefer doing that to cleaning my own catch.

    Although I understand your sentiments, and share them to some degree, I also understand how someone might feel a thrill to hunt a huge elephant or a lion. I doubt it is related to the actual kill, but rather to the danger and adventure of it all. Some hunters who are involved with it just for sport will use tranqs to keep from killing the animal.

    Although I doubt that I would ever be involved with such a hunt during my lifetime, given the right circumstances where my killing an elephant would feed hundreds of villagers for a month, I think I would do it so the villagers could eat well. I don’t think that I would have to be a sociopath to do it. Nor do I think my understanding of it means that I “have the empathy of a sociopath and the conscience of a psychotic.”

  26. The stupidest elephant on earth is a MENSA candidate compared to Tony Makris. I don’t know how he could possibly think what he did was manly or courageous. He’s obviously got delusions of being the great white hunter out of an old novel. He should go back on his drugs.

  27. Did you know the local people there ate the elephant he killed? If your concession here is honest, that should affect your assessment.
    ==========================================================

    damn good thing mr. makris traveled all the way to africa to feed the poor villagers. how heavy this white mans burden.

  28. Hey John,

    when the big strong hunter drinks a toast with champagne over the animal he just mercilessly shot to death, it’s pretty easy to guess they’re having fun.

  29. David,

    Where to start. First off, deer populations are out of control. Hunting is a legitimate management tool, you point out. However, the Wildlife Conservation Society, which employs actual , not just someone with a “background”, maintains that elephant populations are plummeting in the wild. So, killing elephants really isn’t the same as hunting deer. I don’t know too much about the situation in Botswana, but seeing how elephants are migratory over great distances those population levels you cite could merely be seasonal in aspect.

    BTW, deer are over-populated in large part because wolf populations have been decimated. And as a side note, protecting wolves is really about maintaining clean water. Wolves are the most effective means of controlling deer numbers, which is overgraze vegetation surrounding riparian areas.

  30. Oro Lee,

    There is an overpopulation of humans in Africa, leading to land use conflicts with elephants, rather than an actual overpopulation of elephants.

  31. RTC wrote: “the Wildlife Conservation Society maintains that elephant populations are plummeting in the wild.”

    Where do they make that claim? You have to watch propaganda organizations like this one. Their entire existence is based on preserving wildlife and receiving donations from people who want to do that. So they give out information about one species, then talk about another species as if it were the same.

    There are two species of elephants: Elephas maximus and Loxodonta africana. Elaphas is endangered and the numbers are in decline. Loxodonta is vulnerable and its numbers are increasing. The elephant that Makris shot was Loxodonta.

    Consult the IUCN red list instead of conservation organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society for clear objective data.
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/search

  32. RTC – I’m not even suggesting he is a humanitarian, but he said in the interview that the villagers there ate it, and from what I read about the licenses, hunters are required to donate the meat to the local residents of the area.

  33. RTC would I guess support culling the “overpopulation” of humans, not elephants since humans are more numerous and dangerous.

  34. randyjet wrote: “RTC would I guess support culling the “overpopulation” of humans, not elephants since humans are more numerous and dangerous.”

    ROTFLOL!

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