Heartland Americans Are Like This Antelope - They'll Only Take So Much Before Rising Up and Terrifying Their Attacker


Every day, across social media platforms, millions of people will watch nature videos.

Your witty riposte, your heartwarming Insta, your latest TikTok dance — none of these are as magnetic as a viral clip of wild or domestic animals acting in ways that we, as humans, can relate to. Consider that, among the most-read obituaries of the past week, was that of Kabosu — the Shiba Inu dog that’s responsible for the “Doge” meme online.

The BBC dedicated 16 paragraphs to her passing. Even Elon Musk posted a farewell to Kabosu — implying, in his uniquely Muskian way, that she was up with another animal of viral video fame, Harambe:

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This all raises the question: What’s the appeal? Why have almost 10 million people watched a Facebook video of a flying squirrel faking his own death while only two people reacted to pictures of your latest family vacation.

Perhaps it’s because we, as humans, see ourselves — our foibles, our predicaments, our hopes, our fears and our reality — in the place of the animals that we’re watching, even though it just might be a demonstration of some unconscious natural reaction at work.

As exhibit A for this phenomenon, I’d like to put forward another video that’s chalked up a few million views in just a day, this one of a type of antelope called a nyala, a crocodile and a lion on X, formerly Twitter. We’ll call the antelope “Heartland America,” the crocodile “Reality,” and the lion “Progressivism.”

According to Compass Media, the video was reportedly taken on safari by a visitor to Mkuze Game Park in South Africa and posted on YouTube in April of 2023. It’s gotten almost a million views there, but it did a lot better when an account on X posted it, along with a caption that said “What lesson did you learn from this?”

Do you identify with this video?

At the beginning of the video, the antelope — which has gone into the water to try and escape the lion — ends up getting jolted from the water by the croc.

The nyala might seem like easy prey for the lion at this point — but, as she goes to devour it, it stands its ground, staring down the predator.

The two animals circle each other on the dirt road, with the lion backing down. Eventually, she gets off the dirt road but tries to approach the antelope again. It runs at her with its horns.

The lioness then sulks down the dirt path with the antelope watching:

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There were, indeed, many people who took some kind of personal lesson from this, most of which went something like these quote-posts:

For those of us engaged politically in America, however, this makes for a neat metaphor going into an election year where middle America has gotten fed up with President Joe Biden and his administration.

Many of us may have had apprehensions about former President Donald Trump, either during his presidency or afterwards. Although I’m under no illusions about the audience we usually reach, I know plenty of independents or Republicans who either didn’t vote or may have cast a vote for Biden because of, for lack of a better term, “mean tweets.” I get it.

However, America as a country waded into this presidency and found a crocodile waiting for us. One huge, multiheaded crocodile, to be frank. Inflation. Job insecurity. Supply-line issues. Neo-Marxist wokeness. A president that gives comfort to our enemies and condemns our allies. And, perhaps most frustrating of all, a media which does all it can to pretend that crocodiles don’t exist.

Reality having cast us from the pool of deception, we now come face-to-face with the lion of progressivism, the one that tells us any vote for the GOP is a vote for fascism, “election denial” and all sorts of Very Bad Things™. Except, like the antelope, sensible Americans don’t want to be eaten.

And so we’re not letting ourselves be fooled this time. The foolish attack has woken us up. This has the lionesses of the media-political complex fretting, especially after a poll from the Swing State Project this week found Trump up by an aggregate of 3 points across seven battleground states, and leading in all of them but Wisconsin. But what can they do? Once you’ve exhausted the fascism-denialism route, there’s no worse you can do. They’ve tried their moves before and heartland Americans have had enough.

See what you will in this animal video. I see hope — hope not only for the preyed-upon, but hope for America.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture