Monday, September 10, 2007

This and That

1. First Place for St. Hilda St. Patrick's. The Mukilteo Festival parade took place on Saturday. I have pushed for our church to be involved and this was the third year St. Hilda St. Patrick's participated. Our church is located in Edmonds on the border with Lynnwood but we are Mukilteo's local Episcopal church. The only thing is---Mukilteo does not realize it. We are located on a curvy road blocks behind a couple of grocery stores on a lot with big trees. A couple of Evangelical churches in warehouses, the Mormon church, the Lutheran church, and the Presbyterian church are highly visible and on main streets. My vision has been that we have to be outrageous in order to attract Mukilteo's attention. I do believe we have succeeded.

I invited our members one and all to join us. I requested bright colored clothing and interesting cars. We had an Alpha Romeo, a hot yellow sports car, a Jaguar, a Cougar, and a mini-van all donned in laminated bright blue and yellow posters listing our outreach programs and activities. Two of our staid elderly members showed up in red hats with feathers. Another woman who I think of as a quiet accountant type came dressed in red capri pants and red striped rubber boots. Along the parade route, we distributed 1000 tiny gift boxes with a candle labeled with our name and service times. We all had great fun and for our efforts we were awarded a first place blue ribbon---not sure we had any competition in our category, however. I was in front helping to carry our banner. I must say, when I stepped onto the parade route and saw all of the people along the sides, I felt a little like Britney must have felt last night except, I had on all of my clothes.

2. Was this racism? The other day at the grocery store, I was looking for jalapeno peppers in the produce section. I noticed a young woman standing there also studying the peppers. She asked me if I knew which peppers were which because the labels were not clear. Peppers are not my area of expertise and I wasn't even sure which were the jalapenos. Behind us was a family speaking Spanish and I remarked to the woman that they would probably know. She looked at me as though I had said something racist and responded, "Well, that would just be stereotyping to ask them!"

I have been thinking about this. I do not think I was being politically incorrect. If I was confused about wines and I heard some people speaking French, I'd probably ask their advice. What is the problem? Is this an insult? I am certain that particular family knew a whole lot more about peppers than the young woman and me put together.

3. Last Place for the Gray Whale. The big news around here is that some members of the Makah tribe out in Neah Bay decided to hunt down and kill a gray whale. Truly, I am in conflict about this entire messy sitation. In 1999, the Makah tribe as a part of their treaty rights, received a permit to take a gray whale. Being the whale lover that I am, I watched every minute of the hunt which was carried on TV and believe me, I rooted for the whale to somehow escape. It was legal; I did not agree with it and yet, I can't say I had any convincing arguments against allowing them their hunt. I believe in hunting. It is certainly a part of my culture and certainly, we needed the meat my father brought home to survive. My brother and his sons hunt and they, too, eat what they kill.

The problems I had with the Makah whale hunt were several. They are no longer subsistence hunters like the Inuit and Inupiat in Northern Canada and Alaska. The Makah have lived without whale meat since the 1930's. To this day, I do not believe they ate the whale they killed back in 1999. Also, these are the same gray whales who entertain tourists in Hawaii, Mexico and all along the Pacific coast. In fact, the whale they killed in 1999 approached their boats probably to be scratched or mug for a camera. Likewise, the Makah hunters said the whale they killed on Saturday "chose them" and approached the boats. Of course it did! It undoubtedly thought they were tourists.

But in 1999, they had a permit and it was legal much as I did not like it. It was their right. On Saturday, they had no permit but did it anyway. See, the Marine Mammal Protection Act sort of trumps the 1855 treaty which preserved fishing and hunting rights. It is complicated but a waiver under the MMPA to allow the Makahs to take a certain number of whales was being ironed out. Gray whales have come back from near extinction and it is essential that the numbers be managed. The tribal leaders have denounced the actions of the renegade group who killed the whale and for that I am glad.

My family cannot hunt without the proper permits. They would not dream of doing so. If it is determined that the gray whale population can withstand losing a whale now and then and the tribe has the necessary permits, then I will not complain but will root for the whale. But until then, the Makahs should keep the high powered elephant rifles put away along with the harpoons. And the guys that did this should be prosecuted for the felony crime that it is.

Even if legal, the whole thing to me is no different than if my family was allowed to blow away the deer, elk and bears in the Northwest section of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. It doesn't seem right killing the great gray whales. It just doesn't seem right.