Since the beginning of human existence, most conflicts have been waged over property: land, animals (both human and nonhuman slaves/labor), and the resources necessary to sustain them. From capitalism, a system built upon increasing exploitation and its version of human progress, has come nonstop bloodshed and the destruction of the natural environment. And so, in the wake of such numbing violence and needless destruction, it should come as no surprise that our anthropocentric urges and desires have dulled our sense of morality and justice.
Last fall Time magazine published a piece on the most recent findings linking the consumption of animal flesh with cancer. On the cover (above left) Time depicted two pieces of pig flesh (bacon) crossed over each other like army artillery and chose "The War on Delicious" for the title, reflecting the warped and derisive attitudes of many Americans.
While I was angered by the news magazine's trivializing and mockery of butchered body parts from devalued beings, I was not surprised since the mainstream media mirrors the obtuseness of an undisciplined and unrestrained populace. Only in a society as sick as ours—in which people are disconnected from themselves, nature, and the lives of other sentient beings—is the savage manipulation and voluntary ingestion of dead and disfigured bodies considered delicious.
The War on Animals remains invisible because we are entrenched in a dominant, patriarchal code that views the use and exploitation of nonhuman animals (hereafter, animals) as normal, natural, and necessary. The prevailing ideology promoting brutality and the transformation of someones into somethings is so steeped in our thinking that it is widely tolerated and ignored. Those who challenge prevailing myths, mindsets, and behaviors indicative of speciesist chauvinism often face hostility and defensiveness.
The battle lines in the War on Animals run deep, both physically and psychologically, and can be found everywhere: in homes, at work, on the roads, in schools, on television, in newspapers, etc. As I drive my animal-killing machine to work, I mourn for the lifeless, mangled bodies of those trounced the night before. Demarcations of established human values, behaviors, practices, and traditions disregarding the lives of animals are reinforced and buttressed through institutions, advertisers, and status quo thinking akin to Orwell's Big Brother. Any rejection of propaganda or human allegiance to the animal industrial complex often results in clashes with family members, coworkers, friends, and strangers. To speak or act out on daily atrocities committed against animals can lead to isolation, poverty, despair, and death.
"War exists any time there is an agreed upon enemy and a concerted effort to harass, kill, enslave or disempower 'others'," said Adrienne Jones in It's a War Movie.
In the United States, laws support and sustain the War on Animals: some by making the documentation of animal abuse a crime (Ag-Gag); others by criminalizing as terrorists those who come to the aid of injured, sick, and oppressed animals (AETA), and still others by sanctioning the mass extinction of wildlife to protect the interests of cattle ranchers, hunters, farmers, and property owners.
In the social sphere, animal rights and veganism are marginalized and ridiculed. "Let me eat in peace....let me eat what I want," said Ron Chimelis in response to tactics promoted by Direct Action Everywhere, which mobilizes activists to conduct sit-in like protests at restaurants to disrupt the unconscious eating of animals. Chimelis, like many nonvegans, pleads—not for the lives of those beings he pays to have tortured and killed, but for the uninterrupted ability to continue to do so without censure. Furthermore, his use of the word peace is ironic given that breeding and slaughtering animals for his food (depriving, confining, torturing, maiming, beating, scalding, slicing their necks, and shooting a bolt through their heads) is extremely violent.
In the Pornography of Meat, Carol J. Adams noted that "challenges to meat eating are seen as infringements on someone's pleasure. A political analysis about species . . . inequality is reduced to being repressive and controlling."
The notion that humans have the "right" to enslave, capitalize on, and torture other beings simply because they can or because of the satisfaction they get from doing so (eating them, watching them perform tricks, racing them, etc.) is a false and twisted concept of rights and personal choice. According to this logic, we should grant child pornographers the right to sexually assault and videotape children because of the pleasure they get from watching or performing such vile acts. People have a right to their opinions, but they do not have a right to hurt others, which is why murder, assault, and rape are not deemed personal choices. The problem is that most humans are unwilling to recognize animals as others, unless they are the right animals—primarily cats and dogs.
The US Civil War was precipitated by Southern states defending their wrongly perceived right to subjugate, torture, and kill African Americans. "South Carolina and the ten states that followed it into secession from the United States did so because they loathed the possibility that the states' right to continue to hold black people hostage, benefit from their labor, degrade them, and deny them access to social and political participation, would be lost," continued Jones.
Humans are no different today than their 19th century counterparts. Slave owners and slavery sympathizers (Chimelis) have always existed regarding animals. Except for a small percentage of opposing voices, animals continue to be tyrannized, beaten, killed, and denied access to basic liberties because they are still recognized as property and as such, are more valuable and profitable as objects for labor, food, laboratory experiments, consumer items, entertainment, etc. In fact, the rationales for slavery made over 150 years ago are the same ones used today to defend animal bondage:
- Ending the slave economy would have a profound and devastating economic impact on those who relied on slave labor to produce goods and services. (Today's rationale: Eliminating meat, dairy, and egg industries will hurt jobs and the economy. Truth: New plant-based jobs, products, and opportunities will take their place.)
- If all the slaves were freed, there would be widespread unemployment and chaos. (Today's rationale: If we stop consuming animal products, all the farm animals will run amuck. Truth: Farm factories depend on rape and rape racks, forced masturbation, and artificial insemination. Ending animal bondage will halt industrialized breeding and exponentially reduce the number of animals bred for consumption.)
- Slavery had existed throughout history and was the natural state of mankind. (Today's rationale: It's normal and natural to kill and eat animals; this is the way it's always been. Truth: Just because something has been done for a long time doesn't make it right or necessary. Humans are natural herbivores, not carnivores, and despite claims to the contrary, the first eaters of animals were not actually hunters but scavengers of animal's bodies left by actual carnivores.)
- In the Bible, slavery is widespread and condoned. (Today's rationale: The Bible says it's okay to enslave and eat animals. Truth: There are also many passages in the Bible that disapprove of killing animals and eating meat. According to Genesis, God's ideal was Eden, where all beings lived in harmony and humans ate a plant-based diet. The Greatest Commandment, the Golden Rule, and the Sixth Commandment were not relegated to humans alone.)
- All blacks, not just slaves, had no legal standing as persons in the courts and were considered property, and the Constitution protected that right. (Today's rationale: Animals are property and the laws protect one's right to own animals and do with them what one wishes. Truth: While animals are still deemed property, science has already confirmed that animals are sentient beings and, as such, should be treated as persons, not property. Hopefully, the US Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice will soon right this wrong, too.)
- Slavery is good for the enslaved. They were better cared for than being left to fend helplessly for themselves. (Today's rationale: Animals like to be slaughtered, ridden, caged, made to perform tricks, confined, etc. The humane myth also tries to convince people that some animals bred and killed for food live happier, fuller lives. Truth: Like Santa Claus, these notions are fantasies; they are false beliefs concocted by those trying to rationalize their own self-interests in exploiting animals.)
Just like previous generations, people will go to great lengths to defend their peculiar institutions, controlling the lives and bodies of other beings for their own contrived, greedy interests.
"Usually we are clear about which movies to file in the War section," said Jones. "They are the ones that depict obvious warfare with guns and grenades, armor and combat boots. . . In fact, the genre is much broader and should include movies about warfare that occurs in mundane places."
Yes, mundane places like school cafeterias, kitchen tables, restaurants, living rooms, offices, and backyards. Open your eyes and you will see that the War on Animals continues unabated and with society's blessing; the blood and carnage and victims are pervasive; they cry out, but only very few seem willing to hear them or do anything to help them.
Vegan Starter Kit