The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Udzungwa Red Colobus - Issue Forty
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The Lar Gibbon  from Christiano Artuso The Udzungwa Red Colobus are found exclusively in the Udzungwa Mountains in central Tanzania, east Africa. This monkey is just one of many species endemic to the isolated mountain range, which is covered by a rich tropical rainforest, rivers, and bordering grasslands. Leaves are the most important part of their diet, anything from 70% and 90% of their diet. Their remaining diet is filled out by fruits and flowers. Although many of the plants they eat are highly toxic, containing chemicals such as cyanide, these monkeys have physically adapted to this by developing larger salivary glands and a larger, sacculated stomach. Mothers have also been observed teaching their offspring to eat soil, which helps neutralize the toxins. Their most distinctive feature is the red cap on their heads. The rest of the monkey's body is often white on the ventral side and black on the dorsal side. Their faces are covered by mostly black skin and patches of pink scattered on the muzzle. They lack true thumbs. There is only a small nub where their thumb would be. The name colobus comes from the Greek word meaning "cut short" or "maimed," in reference to their lack of a thumb. They make up for this with their four hook-like fingers. This hand structure actually makes it easier for them to quickly leap from branch to branch. Their long tails are non-prehensile and are used primarily to maintain balance when walking across branches. They are the most arboreal of all African primates, only leaving the comfort of the trees when it is absolutely necessary. Like most primates, they are diurnal. They average about 61 cm tall and weighs about 11 kg. Their tail lengths generally match the individual's height. Males are slightly larger than females. Their lifespan is unknown, although their closest relatives have lifespans ranging between 20 and 30 years old. They live in groups of 20 to 40 individuals. Some groups number as high as 81 while other monkeys wander alone. The monkey troop wakes up around sunrise and forages during the early morning. They rest for most of the day and spend much of their down time grooming each other and building social bonds. They forage again in the evening before retiring for the night. They often sleep in the same trees where they were feeding that day, preferring to stay in the tallest trees they can find. The males tend to stay in their natal group for life and develop strong social bonds with one another. They will only usually leave to form a group of their own. Females in the main group often form smaller associations and will move from group to group several times in their lives. They are often suspicious of newcomers. Before joining a new group, a lone monkey may spend several months following and spying on the target group to see if they will accept him. They are fiercely territorial and they often engage in violent battles with neighboring troops. Most of this fighting is left to the males, who also fight within their own troop to rise up the dominance hierarchy. When a predator is nearby, the males will gather together to defend the group while the females, infants, and juveniles escape to safety. They make several vocalizations, but researchers have not yet deciphered their meanings. When these colobuses see a human, adults and juveniles make a "chist" call. Other calls include barks, yelps, squeals, shrieks, and quavers. They mate year-round although more frequently between March and June. Males compete with each other for mating opportunities, but no male holds exclusive mating rights. When a female enters estrus, her anogenital region swells up. After mating, the female has a pregnancy that lasts about six months. Because females move between groups several times in their life, most females in a group are unrelated to each other. Scientists speculate that this is why red colobus mothers do not generally practice allomothering, where all females work together to raise their offspring. Instead, mothers are highly protective of their young from all males and females in the group. On average, females give birth to a new offspring every three years. Females reach sexual maturity at two years of age. At that point, they may go off on their own to find a new group, or they may stay close to their mother and aunts and leave only when they do. Males reach sexual maturity some time between 3 and 4 years old. They are sympatric with several species of primates and have often been seen forming short-term groups with other species. They have formed friendly relationships with yellow baboons, Sanje mangabeys, and Angola colobuses. Such inter-specific associations provide extra protections against predators. The International Union for Conservation of Nature rates them as Vulnerable (IUCN, 2016), stating that the biggest threat to the species is habitat destruction, which has severely fragmented the population. Habitats are destroyed for the sake of logging, charcoal production, and agriculture. Over 90% of them live in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, which is well protected; however, the remaining individuals live in forests that are either not protected or their protections are not well-enforced. Conservation groups are looking to expand the park to cover adjacent forests that are poorly protected. Another strategy attempts to tackle forest fragmentation by planting and establishing forest corridors to connect isolated patches of forest. This not only requires the planting of new trees but also prevention of bush fires, which often prevent forests from recovering.


Political Persuasion as Art and Craft


David DeLange

Good morning, cadets and welcome back to campus. I trust that you enjoyed your summer break. This is Political Science 1984. That the course should have been assigned such a number is a happy accident indeed. I'm delighted to say that this course, Political Persuasion as Art and Craft, is now an upper division requirement for all engineering majors here at West Point. As well it should be.

Oh, before we begin, would those of you sitting in the back there…yes, the three of you…would you please fill in these empty front-row seats… Thank you.

Now then, I am Dr. Werner Schwarzwald, an adjunct faculty member. I am also President of Truth and Light, Incorporated, an international consulting firm. Here are my cards. Would someone pass them around, please… Thank you, Sir.

My company, like everything you will learn here, is all about how to persuade others through the creative use of language. To that end, I will teach you how the subtle reshaping of truth comprises the essence of all persuasion. And why will you need to learn this? Well, most of you will spend the first five years after you graduate from the Academy working for the Army Corps of Engineers. Nearly all of the Army Corp's projects are controversial. Some of you will support military operations here and abroad. Others will build nuclear reactors. Still others will construct dams and artificial lakes, which will impact aquatic and human populations. Or you may build highways, bridges, and concrete levees, many of them through environmentally sensitive habitat areas. Part of an officer's duty is to present these projects to the public in a favorable light and to minimize all opposition.

Oh, before I forget, the only book you will need for my class is the classic How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. Your text examines the numerous statistical maneuvers that can be used to, shall we say, persuade and reassure rather than inform. Do not be distracted by those who say that Huff, or I, for that matter, are mere promoters of fiction. No. We will be teaching you how to show the public an alternative way of seeing reality.

Recall what George Orwell called Doublethink, what many of us now call Doublespeak. Doublespeak comes down to communicating about controversial matters in positive, compelling ways. You may be asking yourself: Am I up to this? Well, you do want job security, yes? You want to avoid getting your hands dirty or your uniforms bloody; that's for enlisted personnel, right? You want to work in comfortable government offices, yes? You want to retire after twenty years on a generous government pension, then double dip by working in the even more lucrative private sector, at companies like mine, yes? Well, if you want all this, please listen very carefully.

Doublespeak--how exactly do we use it? Let us begin with the central notion that everything you will damage or destroy represents progress. Always refer to your projects as examples of human progress. Similarly, the verb "to progress" has a lovely, positive connotation just waiting for you to attach it to whatever you do, to your planning, to your executing, to your improving on what you are doing. You will also use "progress" as an adjective, for instance, when you offer progress reports to your supervisors or the public. Even your blunders present an opportunity. Frame them as the price of progress.

Sometimes the public will object to the chainsaws and bulldozers your work will require. You must talk about this equipment as a necessary means to developing, better yet cultivating, our precious resources. You see, when you attach the words "developing" and "cultivating" to the notion of "precious resources," the whole enterprise takes on a positive connotation. Who would want to leave precious resources languishing, undeveloped? Conversely, and this is important, be careful to avoid using the words "developer" and "development." Both words have acquired a more equivocal connotation. Instead, characterize a development as an improvement, and if your project destroys important resources, say that it is "opening things up." When you open things up, for example, in the Amazon, then it doesn't sound nearly like what you are actually doing, which is irreversibly burning and cutting down rainforest.

Now, notice when I just referred to "resources," did any of you question my use of that word? You probably didn't. But think about it. When you call something in nature, for example, a river, a resource, you are attaching a label to it. This very act of labeling the river a resource subtly implies that the river belongs to you, or at least, that it's at your disposal. Conversely, many native Americans, for example, believe the opposite, that they belong to the land. Because you and I must insist that this earth belongs to we the people, it's quite helpful to label all of it a resource. Similarly, when you enter a national forest, you will often see a sign that reads: "Land of Many Uses." Perfectly innocent sounding, wouldn't you say? But consider: The word "uses" is a more prosaic version of the word "resources." Again, the implication is that the forest is at our disposal. Cadets, it will be your mission to perpetuate the inspired doctrine that nature is, above all, ours to use as we see fit.

More philosophically, we now turn to the relationship between war and peace. We have Orwell to thank for introducing the Doublethink equation that "War is Peace." That equation, however, is not particularly well formed for use today. Instead, tell the public that without war you can never achieve peace. From which it follows that continuous war of the kind we now engage in must be seen as the only path to continuous peace.

Some of you will work in war zones. If you are assisting preparation for an air attack, especially if it will endanger civilian populations, do not ever refer to it as bombing. No--you are helping service a target or meeting mission objectives. Afterwards, never say that you destroyed a neighborhood. Rather, you helped neutralize a target or completed your mission. Now, tell me, doesn't that sound infinitely preferable to "Bombs Away"?

My power point overhead contains a list of several more concepts whose persuasive redefinition we will examine in future sessions. Some of the more interesting ideas on the list are the notions of disaster relief, good air quality, economic growth, endangered species, and renewable energy. And here's my most favorite--conspiracy theories. Notice, if you call your opposition conspiracy theorists, you automatically marginalize them as highly suspect. That's true even if there's real collusion and coverup going on. I find few things more personally satisfying than accusing an angry, ill-kempt troublemaker at a public hearing of peddling some conspiracy nonsense.

We turn next to the masters we serve. The great majority of you will work for the Department of Defense. Until 1947, the Defense Department was called the War Department. The name change was very timely, because since World War II, most of our campaigns have been offensive operations. They've had little to do with defense. Our borders have not been under attack. Nevertheless, to sustain public acceptance of these foreign engagements, we should always frame them as defensive or protective. For example, we are protecting the homeland or protecting democracy, and so forth. We can hardly say anymore that we are defending our way of life against Communism, but at least we should say that we are, for instance, defending women's rights in Afghanistan. One more point--it would be especially challenging to convince the public that so-called preemptive strikes are needed to protect us unless it's the Department of Defense and not the War Department staging the operation.

You know, cadets, our country has been doing quite well when it comes to war. We have military involvement in 22 countries right now. We've been continuously at war since the year 2001, and during our whole history, there have been only 11 years during which we have not been militarily engaged somewhere. It will be your mission to maintain this fine tradition.

Moving along, some of you will work at the EPA. It is fine to call it the EPA among ourselves, but to the public, it's always the Environmental Protection Agency. The reason why? The acronym EPA has acquired a negative connotation. Think about it. How has most of the recent repurposing of our remaining wildlands been accomplished? Well, it's been through the elimination of the environmental protections that the EPA once enforced, and by that agency's failure to enforce many of the remaining regulations. Calling it the Environmental Protection Agency allows us to more easily reframe actions that cause damage as environmental protection.

It's important to know that if you work for the EPA, you will not be personally responsible for what you do or fail to do as long as you adhere to agency policies or do as you are told. Take, for example, EPA officials' deliberate inaction when Flint Michigan authorities used the lead contaminated Flint River as a municipal water source. Widespread rashes, hair loss and an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease resulted. Yet not one EPA employee has suffered any civil or criminal consequences.

One of my favorite agency names is the "Bureau of Reclamation." Now notice, to reclaim means to claim something back. The implication is that it belonged to you in the first place. Who can tell me what the Bureau of Reclamation does?. . . Nobody? Well, besides providing water for big agriculture, the Bureau's main task has been to build dams that generate hydroelectric power. But how, you might ask, do those activities have anything to do with reclamation? Certainly, our great rivers did not somehow fall out of the hands of the big utility companies, who want the Bureau to seize them back or reclaim them on their behalf. So, the Bureau of Reclamation does not reclaim anything. But doesn't the name sound good?

The problem you will face, of course, is with the upriver inhabitants. I mean, the people who occupy the land that your dam will flood. They will insist that they have claims to it. Your job will be to counter this. You must insist on the rights of the Bureau to reclaim, in the name of the people, what belongs to all of us. Make sure not to mention the utility companies and agricultural corporations, the ones who will benefit the most.

If you go to work for the EPA or the Bureau of Reclamation, you will face protests. The protestors will say that you are destroying their land and their long-standing traditions. Explain to the public that you are really supporting these original people's beneficial assimilation, that you are rescuing them from lives of misery. What they call destruction of their traditions, you will call re-imagining their future.

Next, we'll talk about justice. For decades, liberal and left pundits have promoted what they call social justice. Recent permutations include the ideas of environmental justice, distributive justice, and the like. These popular concepts have been used to battle against our efficient, cost-saving monopolies, time-honored hierarchies, and perfectly natural inequalities. You will be glad to know that the Department of Justice has the Army Corps of Engineer's back. The Justice Department has progressively cleared away legal obstacles that would have hampered many of the projects you will be assigned to.

Finally, you will sometimes be asked to draft regulations for projects you work on. Understanding the deceptions built into legal language is important. For instance, the word "should," as in "you should or should not do this or that" never expresses a binding obligation, only a recommendation that can be ignored. But if you write that something shall be done, then it is legally mandatory, unless you add "if practicable." So, if something "shall be done if practicable," then again, it need not be done. But why is this true? Well, it's because the courts have ruled that the decision as to whether or not something is practicable is left to the discretion of the agency in charge of a regulation's implementation. Fortunately, the public is not aware of these subtleties. And this public ignorance presents one more opportunity for your artistry and craftsmanship as political persuaders.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have no doubt heard that truth is stranger than fiction. Well, that's true in a way you might not have envisioned. Here's the big picture. To begin, the art and craft of political persuasion isn't for everyone. Some of you will not be comfortable with turning deceptions into truth or with reeducating the public into a new way of thinking. And that's fine. There will be a suitable place in this army for everyone. We'll need officers to manage back office computer systems, to handle logistics, and so forth. Now, the rest of you, of course, will be aware that the revised versions of truth you promote in the public arena are fabrications. Because most of you will be troubled by your conscience, you will need to gradually convince yourself that these so-called deceptions are true. You will achieve this change of heart through repetition, repetition, repetition of the re-imagined truths. Up to a certain point, the more successful you become at indoctrinating yourself, the higher you will rise in the military hierarchy. However, there will be a select few officers--mainly the guilt-free among you--who will not need to reeducate yourself. That's because you will not be burdened by conscience, and so you will be perfectly at peace with your own deliberate reshaping of reality. You elite few, self-aware master controllers will become very top brass, entirely in the know, and entirely in charge of the rest of us.

Do not worry if you cannot tell where you fit into all this. Time and the process of natural selection will guide you into the role that is right for you. The fittest among you will naturally rise to top command posts, and the rest of you will fall into subordinate roles that suit your adaptive strengths and weaknesses.

Well, that’s about it for today. Except for this--you have a written assignment due next class. In 250 words or less, prove with evidence that black is white, or if you prefer, that darkness is light. Okay? Any questions about the assignment?... No?... No. Then, we’ll see you next Thursday. Class is dismissed.

David DeLange is a former philosophy professor and retired psychotherapist. He has been active in environmental protection, with an emphasis on conserving Pacific Ocean coastal habitats. He lives on the Southern California coast. His backyard, where he writes about the intersection of nature, politics and culture, is home to many bird species and an extended family of Fox Squirrels, who have names.
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