Op On this day lees ik: “Forty years ago President Jimmy Carter was attacked by a swamp rabbit (moeraskonijn) which swam up to his fishing boat in Plains, Georgia”. Of course, I don’t give a fuck about president Carter, maar dit incident trok mijn aandacht omdat ik nog nooit van een “swamp rabbit” (foto YouTube) had gehoord, laat staan van één dat mensen aanvalt ook!

President Carter had gone on a solo fishing expedition in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. According to Carter, a rabbit being chased by hounds “jumped in the water and swam toward my boat. When he got almost there, I splashed some water with a paddle.”
When Carter returned to his office, his staff did not believe his story, insisting that rabbits could not swim, or that they would never approach a person threateningly. However, the incident was captured on footage taken by a White House photographer.
Jody Powell, Carter’s press secretary, accidentally mentioned the event to Associated Press correspondent Brooks Jackson much later, on August 28, 1979, who filed the report with the wire service the following day. The story, entitled “Bunny Goes Bugs: Rabbit Attacks President”, ran on August 30, 1979, and was carried on the front page of The Washington Post, though the White House’s refusal to release the photograph resulted in the newspaper using a cartoon parody of the Jaws poster labeled “PAWS” as its illustration.
Laten we dus maar aannemen dat Carter het iets te voorbarig in zijn broek deed, alhoewel Wikipedia wel weet te vertellen over swamp rabbits onderling: “Rival males will often engage in aggressive encounters that sometimes become violent enough to kill one of the combatants. When fighting, males will stand on their hind legs and use their teeth and claws to inflict wounds on their opponent. They will also jump from the ground and strike with the sharp claws of the hind feet.”
The incident with the rabbit became fodder for political and ideological opponents who wanted to frame Carter’s presidency as hapless and enfeebled, although the event’s proximity to the U.S. release of the comedy feature film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, which includes scenes of a killer rabbit slaying humans, led to some people describing Carter as having “fended off a killer rabbit” instead.
The incident was also parodied in 1980 in a song by the folk singer Tom Paxton entitled “I Don’t Want a Bunny Wunny”.
Humour columnist Dave Barry has often referred to the “enormous swimming rabbit” incident in his writings. In “Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States”, he names it the uncontested single most memorable event of Carter’s presidency.
Enfin, wat ik vooral heb geleerd over swamp rabbits is that they spend much of their time in depressions which they dig in tall grass or leaves, providing cover while they wait until the nighttime to forage. Zij graven dus geen echte holen en ook hun kleintjes worden bovengronds geboren. Geen wonder that there is concern that swamp rabbits are increasingly becoming exposed to predation. Known predators are dogs, alligators and… humans. Maar van Jimmy Carter hoeven ze vooralsnog niet te veel schrik te hebben!

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