Harambe doesn’t get honor he deserves

Jonathan Lee, co-opinions editor

Hey South, I’m back. How was your summer? Nice! Mine was terrible. Yep, I have sad news, so get those tissues out. But don’t act like you’re surprised, you can’t spell opinion without “onion.”

So you’re probably asking yourself, “What made Jonathan so sad this summer?” You might think it’s about the current presidential candidates, the United States only winning 121 medals at the Olympics or the fact that season two of Stranger Things is not coming out for a full year. All of these things are detrimental, but the main reason for my sorrow is the death of Harambe.

To refresh your memory on who Harambe is, or I guess was, Harambe was the gorilla who was shot at the Cincinnati Zoo. He was 17 years young and would’ve been a senior in high school. Obviously that’s a bit of a stretch, but the jokes have been too.

When I first heard about Harambe, I immediately got in the joking mindset. I would say things like, “What would Harambe do?” and,“Do it for Harambe.”

Then I saw a post on Instagram one day and it said, “If you pull the lever, Harambe will die. If you don’t, his existence will never be appreciated. What do we value higher? Harambe or the idea of Harambe?” I realized that this perfectly described the relationship between us and a gorilla. We have been so obsessed with making jokes about a death, yet we don’t seem to really care about the life of the gorilla.

The memes about Harambe have been outrageous. When I say outrageous, I mean huuuge. (I am not a Trump supporter. I repeat: I am not a Trump supporter). Memes range from, “Bush did Harambe,” to, “If Harambe was white, he would still be alive.”

By relating Harambe to things like 9/11 and the Black Lives Matter campaign, we’re forgetting how serious all these topics are. It may not be very relevant for us, but these are actual events that are still talked about today, and by relating it to Harambe it only makes the issues seem less meaningful. I know that Harambe will still be joked about and I admit that I also really have to stop. But limiting ourselves from saying these jokes will shed more light on these serious topics.

I’m not trying to end all affiliations with Harambe. I think the death of Harambe has brought people together. For example, who would have thought there would be Harambe posters made to cheer on our teams and even people dressing up as Harambe.

Another positive aspect is that Harambe has promoted animal rights. Although we’ve been using Harambe as a meme, there’s no question that we care even just a little about his life as an animal. Animals have been wrongfully killed, including Cecil the Lion, but no animal received as much attention as Harambe.

An important result from this situation was the controversy with the zoo, the kid’s parents and the public. After the event started to get more popular in the media, the public felt like it was necessary to decide who was at fault. The zoo was received tremendous backlash from media because of their decision in killing Harambe. But in regards to the boy, people began to see that it was a necessary action.

All in all, with this dilemma we were able to see people passionate about an animal’s life, whether it was with a joking attitude or serious. It’s crazy to think that in a parallel universe the same thing could’ve happened, and no one would know Harambe. It would’ve just been another animal killing that we have gotten used to. But thankfully, with Harambe, it was different and it has become a huge part of our lives.

Harambe has made this emotional experience something that we can apply to our lives. With “Harambe,” meaning working together and helping each other, it’s obvious that he truly lived up to his name. As humans we were able to unite through a specific situation and that situation was Harambe. We all cared about an animal and through that, the world became a better place, so let’s continue that without the life of Harambe.

At the end of the day, Harambe will always be a legend. Not because Harambe’s death created thousands of memes, but by making the world a better place. We can’t blame the zoo for trying to save a life. We can’t blame the child for falling into Harambe’s sanctuary. We can’t blame Harambe for wanting to make a friend. We can’t blame the mom for… Well, that’s for another story and another time.