A More Human Mouse
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently spliced the human gene associated with language into the brains of a mouse. While the rodents didn’t say anything about the experiment, they were better able to find chocolate in a maze then regular mice. This is perhaps another example of science mimicking science fiction. In H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau an evil doctor attempts to humanize wild animals through surgery and psychological conditioning. The animals rebel, overturning the pseudo society that the doctor tried to create. The MIT mice are docile so far, lacking the drama of Dr. Moreau, or Planet of The Apes.
The joining of human and animal isn’t shocking for many aboriginal Americans; for them the animals see themselves as human,
just with a different form. For example the Wari’ of Brazil know a jaguar kills its prey with tooth and claw, and eats it raw. But for the jaguar, or rather, from the jaguar’s point of view, he kills his prey with arrows like the Wari’ do; he takes the prey home, gives it to his wife and tells her to cook it. While jaguars look like cats to the Wari’, in the eyes of the jaguar humans look like pigs, like prey.
It’s not good to be a pig or a mouse when a jaguar is hunting.
A Mouse is Always Prey
There’s of course another group of people, over thirty thousand strong by current estimates, who simply erase the boundaries between human and animal behavior. The members of ISIS, while retaining human form, are more like predatory scavengers. According to Franz Kafka, jackals are disgusted by Arabs. Certainly, the jaguar bringing a meal home to his wife is more noble than the humans who chain a little girl to a fence. Even a jackal is above that.
The blending of species through grafting of human genes into mice has the potential to advance our understanding of memory, cognitive flexibility, and the evolution of the brain. The blending of species by the predatory behavior of ISIS scavengers has the potential to reverse centuries of human social, intellectual and moral development. The Island of Doctor Moreau is a happy children’s tale by comparison.
ISIS thus challenges the civilized world to respond: does it meekly acquiesce to the rape and enslavement of women, the torture and beheading of children? Or does it act boldly to eradicate such savage, inhuman beings? Will Western civilization behave as a man or a mouse? It’s dangerous to be a mouse when jaguars, jackals, or ISIS supporters are on the prowl.