The Video of the Man Saving the Rabbit From the Fire Captures Everything Wrong With Whiteness in 30 Seconds

BBC News via YouTube screenshot
BBC News via YouTube screenshot

I’m not sure it’s possible to create a viral video better than the one of the California man jumping out of his car to save a bunny rabbit from the raging wildfires. It feels too saccharine—too perfect—to even be scripted, as it contains every element necessary for social media sharing and bouts of spontaneous verklempt. It’s basically peak BuzzFeed.


To wit, you have ...

  1. a selfless (and reckless) act of bravery
  2. a backdrop that mirrors every scene from hell in Constantine
  3. a fucking bunny rabbit
  4. a freaking chase of the fucking bunny rabbit as hell’s flames nip at its cute wittle bunny ears

This man was basically Jesus saving the bunny from eternal damnation. And when you see a video of Jesus snatching a bunny from the devil’s grasp, the least you could do is share it on your timeline with a hearts emoji.

It’s also maybe the whitest thing I’ve ever seen. And these eyes have seen the pinnacles of whiteness, including a pretzel-and-pepperoni casserole at a holiday potluck when I was a teacher and the peak Appalachian tailgates outside of Heinz Field whenever Kenny Chesney is in town. But not only is it the whitest thing I’ve ever seen this week—it manages to synopsize everything problematic about white people on both a macro and micro level in 30 seconds. This clip does such a great job of articulating whiteness that it should win a MacArthur “genius” grant.

Although the fires raging in Southern California were apparently likely sparked by downed power lines, they’ve become so massive and devouring because of the uncharacteristically hot, dry weather that region has experienced this year—conditions able to exist because of that thing that an entire political party has agreed to refuse to believe exists.

From Time magazine:

Lingering over recent California fires is the question of long-term climate change. Warmer temperatures dry out vegetation, making them easier to burn, and scientists say vulnerable regions like California should expect a spike in wildfires in the coming decades as temperatures continue to rise. The effect of climate change on the Santa Ana winds remains uncertain, though a 2006 study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters suggested that warming could shift the winds’ season leading to larger areas burned by fires.


I’m not going to pretend that I understand something as complex as global warming, especially when I still don’t even understand why my toaster heats Pop-Tarts up quicker than Eggos, but I do know that colonialism and aggressive industrialism have had an adverse effect on our environment. And I also know that this is a byproduct of manifest destiny—an existential edict ingrained in white people where they believe everything belongs to them.

Nothing is off-limits. Not the rain forests, not your land, not the hair sitting on top of your head. And that apocalyptic hellscape was executive-produced by the same company that brought us timeless classics such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade and gerrymandering and redlining and other innocuous-sounding terms for really fucked-up things and The Help.


But let’s forget about the big-picture issues for a moment. Instead, let’s focus on the actual act. It was brave. It was fearless. It was valiant. It was altruistic. It was everything good about humanity. But when witnessing the act and the fawning over the bunny rescue, I can’t help juxtaposing the feelings expressed about this bunny with the feelings generally expressed when black people are in grave danger.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that Caleb Wadnan—the man who saved the rabbit—wouldn’t have done the same thing if he saw a helpless black toddler out there scurrying around. For all I know, Wadnan might have only saved the rabbit because he was on the way to a #BlackLivesMatter meeting and a rabbit is the Southern California chapter’s mascot. Maybe he took that rabbit home and named it “Denmark Vesey.” I don’t know.


But I do know that whether it’s rabbits, cats, dogs, horses, cows, sloths, chickens, spiders, birds, elephants, penguins, polar bears, monkeys, whales, eels, elephants or velociraptors, the lives and well-being of animals seem to be considered—by many white Americans—much more precious and much more deserving of protection and care than the lives of black people. Shit, I have no doubt that if the aliens from Aliens somehow landed in Brooklyn, N.Y., and were shot on sight, there’d be more white people upset about that than about Tamir Rice.

Actually, forget about that alien analogy. It’s too far-fetched and unrealistic. Because we all know the only way they’d be shot on sight was if they had cornrows.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Dhiraj Naseen

Someone’s gotta drop it, so here ya go - presenting The Circle of Life aka That rabbit ain’t gonna make it...