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Tea Party footnotes

February 7, 2010 |  7:39 am

A couple of musings about the Tea Party convention in Tennessee:

I'm puzzled by the disgruntled reaction among Tea Partiers to the fact that the convention charged money to attend -- about $550, it's been reported -- and that the convention organizer was a for-profit company. Yeah, it's expensive, all right, but isn't profit-making quintessentially American?

And I've seen photos of conventioneers wearing T-shirts with the image of a bald eagle on the back, the national bird, symbol of the nation. When the Founding Fathers were drawing up the blueprints for the United States, there were hundreds of thousands of bald eagles, coast to coast, clime to clime.

But then humans began crowding them out and shooting them down in such numbers that a law protecting them was put into place in 1940. But that was just about the time that DDT began to be used in vast quantities, and there went the bald eagle population again. DDT in the food chain rendered bald eagle shells too thin to incubate or hatch and perhaps rendered some adult birds infertile.

Rachel Carson's seminal book ''Silent Spring'' raised the public's awareness of the risks of DDT. In 1967, bald eagles were ruled an endangered species in much of the U.S. -- a status that was made national on the nation's bicentennial, in 1976 -- and they weren't declared to be a thriving species once again until 2007.

Which means that, if it hadn't been for all those tree-hugging pinko environmentalists, the bird of prey on all those T-shirts, the proud bald eagle, might very well have been a dead duck.

-- Patt Morrison

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