the south does have statistically significant margins of measurable correlations to racism though, including poor education systems, terrible high school graduation rates, sludgy class mobility, and lower mean income compared to the national averages. these things can combine in a region with a long history of racism and allow it to remain much more acceptable for a much longer amount of time than in other places around the USA.
no one actively harbors hate for black people. they love black people and even have black friends. it's just that *looks both ways* they __________________ (insert sentiment about black culture, black incarceration rates, african-american english, The Race Card, or welfare statistics) this is why analyzing who appears to hate black people is a flawed methodology. if racism was as simple as bigots yelling their hatred of black people, the problem could be easily eradicated. instead it exists hidden in structures and institutions, lurking in asymmetrical social and economic outcomes. it is perpetuated in the normalization of attitudes and ideas about the way things are and how things have come to be. also consider the possibility that your sample size may be too small to draw a large-scale understanding of race relations in the south or elsewhere. and, of course, consider the fact that political maneuvers reflect a constituency, so if a constituency base is a bunch of assholes, then yes, an entire party could be built along asshole lines. lastly, i agree with you: it's been interesting to watch how different people react to the cecil issue. i've seen quite a few surprises, both in outraged people who i thought would be ranting about numbnuts liberals, and listless shrugs by people i'd have expected to be screaming about animal rights.
oooh look at me i'm shirtless holding a dead animal that i'm not going to eat ending lives for sport is uncivilized and gross. it takes a sick individual to see a beautiful animal in another country and think to end its life rather than appreciate it. i used to be an avid bass fisherman, but i gave it up because i found it increasingly difficult to justify causing living beings pain for reasons other than my own subsistence.
if cultural traditions and norms can flux with the introduction of new logics and ways of thinking, could it stand to reason that just because something is culturally bound doesn't mean it's necessarily the best way to think about/do/approach a thing?
to me the entire cavalcade of ethical questions surrounding animal rights can be spawned and summed by asking whether or not chimpanzees should have human rights. if yes, then this forces us to ask what non-human traits in other species should inspire rights. if no, then we need to ask what happens when the lines become blurred between humans and non-humans. say, hypothetically, a bunch of hardcore trekkers are hiking through the deepest, most remote parts of the appalachian mountains. say they stumble across a hollow filled with a group of people who immediately strike them as completely different. they realize, very quickly, that something's strange. they don't have a spoken language and they're stouter, stumpier, and behave in odd ways that reflect human interaction - they cook food, wear some clothes, have social hierarchies - but they are clearly something entirely different. a bunch of scientists come to the hollow to see what's up, and they figure out pretty quickly that a bunch of colonial immigrants got isolated in the hollow and by some force over hundreds of years they lost their language skills. feral children theories abound: that children with weak language skills survived some massacre and rebuilt their society. their appearances have changed over hundreds of years with a limited gene pool and adaptation to the unique ecology of the environment. they treat the scientists warily, with mute caution, interacting on perimeters, but unable to communicate. they are, for all intents and purposes, another species. in this outlandish and hypothetical scenario, the immediate question posed by public policy makers becomes quite simple: what do we do with them? do we study them? do we send in anthropologists? do they have the right to be left alone? do they have rights at all? what are they? are they human? what defines humanity? is the existence of definable culture, self-reflexivity, and social hierarchies enough to consider them human? are they subject to human laws, or human punishments? however one answers these questions, they are roundly applicable to similar questions of rights of non-human primates. and that's where things get tricky, because allowing for rights for any other species requires a system of metrics by which worthiness of rights is measured. if, for instance, intelligence is a metric, then pigs carry a whole new level of importance and ethical prerogative. lines get blurred, poo gets fuzzy. the above hypothetical scenario is a portal into the kinds of questions we need to ask when determining how to treat cases like cecil the lion. i'll say it again: i'm as outraged as anyone else. non-subsistence hunts are sickening and hearken back to archaic colonialist practices that don't belong in modern society. but if you lure cecil the warthog or cecil the dik-dik and kill him, it never hits national press. they don't equate culturally, obviously, but shouldn't the disparity of response command a careful analysis of what metrics we're using to judge the morality of what animals we're killing?
to be honest i'm not sure of my ground here. i think things really get interesting when you start asking questions that determine the worthiness of one animal to live over another, and trying to find the answer leads to finding situations like cecil the lion much more complex. not because it makes cecil's death any less outrageous, but because it possibly makes many more deaths much more so. isn't value of species diversity a human cultural trait, and therefore also kind of arbitrary? why is the life of a single endangered species innately more valuable than another life of equal or higher intelligence (or any other metric of value)? how do non-human primates figure into the equation? asking this question forces us into nebulous ethical territory, because defining ethics by humanity leads us to the territory of living beings straddling the cultural fence between humans (they exhibit culture) and animals. is killing a chimp worse than killing a lion? is killing a lion worse than killing a squirrel? is cultural value a random assignment? does it vary cross-culturally? is it dumb? i'm really not trying to be a neckbeard poking holes in cultural norms because i'm above them. i find this as outrageous as all of you. but this is a deep rabbit hole and imo it's a conversation worth having, as the ramifications are far-reaching.