Brothers Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump are under fire after photos surfaced of the brothers posing with animals they killed on a recent hunting trip to Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, the outcry is not coming just from animal rights advocates. The tone of the media coverage of the controversy is decidedly against the Trumps’ actions.
While most media outlets fall short of actually criticizing the brothers, the headlines and articles coming out about the issue are hardly neutral. Yahoo’s headline characterizes the photos as “brutal.” TMZ declared the controversy a “war over animal butchery.” New Zimbabwe called the photos “grizzly.” The Huffington post termed the hunt a “killing spree.” Other articles were outright critical, such as the Gawker article that slammed the brothers for “posing like jackasses” or the thoughtful Salon piece that examines the “grotesque hunting spree” in the context of race and wealth.
This negative reaction may be due to the photos themselves, which definitely earn the brutal, grizzly, and grotesque descriptors, but it may also be due to the brazen defense of their actions by the Trumps. Don Jr., in particular, has been brash and vitriolic in his response. He’s taken to his twitter account (@donaldjtrumpjr) to declare he’s proud of his actions, as well as bash and bully his critics - calling them “losers,” “eco nuts”, “weak,” and even resorting to school-yard insults about people’s intelligence or their profile pictures.
While these childish comments could be seen simply as a man heavily on the defensive, perhaps the truest glimpse into the mind of this unabashed animal killer was revealed when he replied to one Tweet, “the opinion of someone who has vegetarian in their bio as that defines them so profoundly means little to me.” (A quick look at Don Jr.’s Twitter profile reveals that, by this logic, what “defines” him is his job title.)
His ‘profoundly’ low opinion of people who identify as vegetarian, combined with his vociferous defense of his actions in Zimbabwe, paints a picture of a man entrenched in the belief that others - whether human or animal - are lesser and not deserving of respect. A picture of entitlement and self-centeredness. But how many will be surprised that a picture like that bears the name “Trump”?
For animal rights activists, there appears to be no opportunity to educate the Trump brothers, whose comments show they are not open to the criticism they’ve received. But the negative coverage from those outside the animal rights community demonstrates that attitudes and actions like theirs are rapidly becoming unacceptable in our society. As the brothers are discovering, it’s a new world - one where compassion trumps killing.