By Marion A.
We live in conservative times. New activists often feel intimidated and discouraged by the painful experience of their resistance to the status quo being automatically labelled and demonised as “extremist” -as subtle as their rebellion may be. It is understandable but tragic when activists in their attempt to appear “just as normal as anyone else” get stuck in the defensive mode.
It is tragic because our fear of being ostracized will distort and paralyze our thinking, our creativity, our vision. One great challenge is to free ourselves, free our minds from all that noise so we can start envisioning and actually building a different world.
A world free from animal exploitation and torture.
What do I mean by “noise”? Sociologists refer to the term informal social control, used to silence political resistance on an interpersonal level that includes shaming, ridiculing and sarcasm.
The following is nothing but noise:
“You’re just a hippie- what you are proposing is not realistic”
“You are such a naïve idealist- you should just get a job”
“People will always eat meat”
“You can’t change people”
“You are so sensitive- you should toughen up and accept that humans are at the top of the food chain”
…and on it goes…
It is understood that most of us work fulltime jobs and do our political resistance work until late at night. As activists, we face the challenge of making the most of the very limited resources that we have available for struggle. No wonder we often forget that our energy, our enthusiasm, our very vision is our most important asset! Many of us yearn for more space to think freely about new possibilities for an oppression-free society. But to do this we need to free ourselves from the fear to appear “unrealistic”, “idealistic” or “extremist”. Let’s not forget that to the complacent mainstream, any challenge to their comfortable little lives seems scary and extremist.
Remember that this march is about making an important and clear statement: We do not accept the status quo! We oppose the current situation of over one hundred MILLION nonhuman animals being killed PER DAY. Slaughtered. Dismembered; so humans can feed on their bodies. The entire notion of the slaughterhouse is madness!
We ask a sincere question to all those who consume and use animals: how can you accept that a place exists in which the lives of sentient and intelligent beings are routinely and systematically destroyed?
To make such a place an institution –what does this say about our society?
YOUR participation in the slaughter-what does this say about YOU? Your sense of morality, the value you put on a life?
There is nothing “normal” about the slaughterhouse – a quite recent invention, animal slaughter reached its mind-blowing proportions in the 20th, the era of mass murder. While it seems easy to judge the industrialized human genocide of the Nazi Third Reich, we conveniently forget the historical connections and the ideological parallels: the denial of the life and value of another being different from us.1
We conveniently deny all important empirical facts: Fact #1 Humans do not need to kill other animals to live fulfilling and healthy lives.2 Fact# 2 Pigs, chickens, cows have intelligence. Chickens have social lives. Cows have feelings and thus all these nonhumans have lives of value. The bottom line is: we kill needlessly those who do not want to die.3 We ask animal eaters to look at this situation honestly. To stop and think before seeking easy recourse in the same old excuses.
But we also ask a sincere question to all “vegetarians” “animal lovers”, even depoliticized life-style vegans: Do you truly believe that our fearful suspicion of “those extreme animal liberationists” will ensure our admission to “normal middle-class society”?4 That it will make animal rights and/or veganism appear more attractive or at least more acceptable to the mainstream? Perhaps for a short while…but the risk remains that the vegan “life-style” will turn into just another fad. Any animal rights advocacy will be easily co-opted if it is not rooted in a political commitment to a mass-based vegan movement that seeks solidarity across cultural, class, educational and language boundaries. Vegan wine is fine- but we must go further.
This march is about profound cultural change. It is about asking inconvenient questions and about engaging the public in meaningful – and extremely difficult dialogue. But we live in conservative times. Complacency is considered good manners; a public critique of the slaughterhouse seems radical. No wonder- as it is the kill floor that epitomizes the sheer violence underneath the thin veneer of civilization. The humane meat myth, fast-food “happy meals” or table manners- all these devices function to systematically mask the horrors our comfortable lives are based on. The good news is: we can literally watch the façade falling apart- but we must keep pushing!
True. Many people do not want to know about the reality of the slaughterhouse. They deceive themselves and buy into the lies of “clean” and glossy marketing campaigns. But by being part of the March to Close Down All Slaughterhouses you are setting a sign of realistic hope:
Slaughterhouses (now) exist.
We will end the slaughter. Together.
Introductory Readings regarding some of the topics I touched on above:
1“Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson, PhD.
2Position Statement of the American Dietary Association (ADA) PDF version: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357
4”Green is the New Red: Activism is not Terrorism” by Will Potter.