Monday, April 1, 2013

The Ties That Maim?

In my first book, The Ties That Divide, I argued that states will support the secessionist movements with which their key constituents share ethnic ties.  While this seems obvious and un-counter-intuitive, This ran directly counter to the conventional wisdom, which was that states would refrain from such activity if they were vulnerable to separatism.  While contemporary political science pushes scholars to consider all of the observable implications of their theories, I never considered the environmental consequences of pandering to key constituents. 

Alas, the sharks are feeling the consequences.  The Conservative Party of Canada, which help to exemplify the logic of running scared (always seeking votes even with a comfortable majority), is sucking up to elderly Chinese Canadians by opposing legislation that would have banned the import of shark fins.  Shark fins are harvested by slicing the fins off of live sharks which are then sent back into the water to die, leading to the potential extinction of sharks.  While it sounds strange to be "pro-shark," the environmental move here is to protect the sharks.  The Conservatives, whose environmental record is, of course, pretty sketchy, is not protecting a shark fishing industry but pandering to a segment of the Canadian electorate. 

The good news is that the right wing party of Canada understands better than the right wing party of the U.S. that its future lies in more than just white folks.  The bad news is that Canadians will still be part of the market driving the slaughter of sharks.  Usually, I would suggest that if sharks were cute, they would be saved (dolphins), but then again, this is a country that fiercely protects its right to beat seals.  So, um, never mind.

This story also shows that there is more than one way to pander to an ethnically defined constituency.  Supporting kin in the homeland is one way.  Supporting their cultural practices in the host country is another.  Woo hoo for ethnic politics?

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