There are two types of advocacy for animals that vivisectors, the meat and dairy industries, the fur industry, hunters, dogfighters, zookeepers etc. don’t have a problem with. Shelter adoptions and veganism, especially the total purist morality product boycott “abolition now or nothing” veganism.
Neither of these activities affects animal exploitation industries now or in the immediate future. They do not put pressure on industries to change, nor reach enough members of the public either regularly or repetitively to interrupt anti-vegan advertising and culturally-reinforced business operations that you find on every street corner.
What do affect these industries are incremental, single issue campaigns that use legislation and repetitive media exposure to put pressure on exploiters and abusers to cease torture and/or death and educate the public on what industries do. The campaigns are strategically based on what the public will get behind, and which the exploiters have the hardest time defending. The more the media talks about it, the more the listener comes to accept these issues as good and important and supports the efforts to change the status quo. It is a slow process but an essential one.
Veganism is a rational moral sensible action that one can take to make a personal expression of their belief in equality, justice, compassion, ecological sanity, human and nonhuman welfare and rights. But it is not about moral perfection and never was, nor is it about shutting down industries or ending animal exploitation by excluding every kind of activism except telling people to “go vegan now.” This is why the industries do not have a problem with it, and why they have supporters posing as vegans aggressively promoting it in the guise of caring about animals.
They want to distract/divide/demoralize people who are receptive to a message of “animal concerns,” whether that means welfare, rights, anti-cruelty, abolition, stewardship or whatever else you call a position promoting some kind of compassion for nonhuman animals exploited from birth to death in various exploitation practices and businesses.
Fifth Column Veganism is what we call a position where someone claims to support “animal concerns” to the greatest extent possible, but uses arguments that originated in the mouths of the most hard-line opponents of any animal concerns.
When criticized hunters, vivisectors, the fur industry, meat industry, cockfighters, etc. have a standard catalog of irrational responses they throw at the activists that are intended to distract/divide/demoralize:
Animal people are deceptive, crazy, evil, hateful, and cruel. They are like Hitler and the Nazis. They are against freedom and justice.
When a hunter or vivisector says such foolish things, it may be easily dismissed since one knows they have a personal or financial motive to seek a distraction from their actions. However, when someone who claims to be vegan and on the same side of animals says the same things (with slight word adjustments), then a different reaction tends to happen. The person listening, if a vegan or leaning towards such a view, may tolerate the message because they sincerely want to help animals and welcome anyone who claims to be on the same side.
The more it is repeated, the more the listener may come to accept the bogus claims as possible and the internal disagreement among animal advocates as normal.
During WW2 a fifth column agent would pose as a member of the army, winning the trust of their enemy in order to sabotage their aims.
A fifth column vegan who is an agent for exploiters and abusers also seeks to sabotage the aims of the enemy, they wage an active campaign to distract/divide/demoralize advocates, and they may reveal themselves by exhibiting:
The fifth column vegan usually has two sides—there is the side they show to the mass media and non vegan public, and the side they show to vegans that they claim to be in agreement with.
They might start a major media appearance with “of course this exploitation is wrong/terrible/probably immoral” or they are introduced as “animal rights activists” and then they launch into their real purpose, attacking animal advocacy that targets exploiters and abusers. They avoid a detailed “animal concerns” message as they do not want to make the audience think about animals or reinforce a message that they should. The focus is not on the exploiters, the focus is on the activists. Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem.
When they appear among a vegan/animal rights crowd (usually in a much smaller venue and audience), the fifth column vegans “preach to the choir” and “play to the crowd.” They might use a personal anecdote about a horrible act of cruelty and say how much they were affected by it. Or they will provide FAQ responses to use when challenged on veganism (adequate but not necessarily the most persuasive). The exploiters are not left out, but it is always linked to large animal advocacy groups as the most serious problem, either suggesting they are sincere but misguided, or the real enemy: liars, they betray animals, they make secret collaborations with exploitation industries or government (and the companies singled out as the number 1 enemy are not the big agribusinesses that oppose any and all animal concern initiatives, but rather the companies (supermarkets and restaurants) that have supported welfare reforms and advertised them to the public. The animal organizations are accused of wasting money (not that this cannot happen with sincere advocacy but there is a difference between imperfection and the belief they are motivated to waste money). The basic theme is the same: Exploitation isn’t the problem, the activists are the problem, and the goal is to distract, divide, and demoralize vegans and sincere animal activists from supporting welfare initiatives.
It must be noted that some will say that the mere mention of “fifth column veganism” is an example of distracting/dividing/demoralizing activists, so what’s the difference? The difference is in goals and the emphasis (or lack there-of) on the victim and the victimizer. It is insincere activists seeking to undermine sincere activism, thus we seek to undermine their efforts to do so.
Another example would be in how you react to a single issue campaign. I.e. you see someone protesting fur. Those on the side of exploiters would say to the person: “do you eat meat? What are your shoes made of? Why are you focusing on this when billions of animals are killed for food?”
If you care about the victims, you would say instead: “Good for you! I am against fur too and fully support what you are doing! I am vegan so I am against fur, also don’t eat meat, dairy, use clothing etc. I am against all of it so once again-thanks for helping animals.”
If you respond with encouragement for their efforts you are not distracting, you are not dividing, and you are not demoralizing.
That is the difference. Fifth column veganism seeks to harm animals, demoralize and deceive activists, and benefit exploiters who oppose all animal concerns. Those that challenge fifth column veganism have no confusion about who they are advocating for.
Welfare vs. Abolition
There is an old story that Leonardo da Vinci would buy caged birds from a market and release them, and developed a plough for the purpose of taking heavy burdens from oxen. They may seem to be kind gestures to the casual observer, but to some others they are counter-productive and paltry—the merchant will just buy more birds with the money and oxen aren’t liberated from abuse and massacre so why bother? Remember the standard anti-animal responses:
“Protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation”
“The animals are going to die anyway so what does it matter how they are treated?”
Those who truly care about animals and their wellbeing would not ask such questions. They already know the answers.
It is one thing to be happy for Leonardo’s birds but remain determined to help as many other birds that come to market, it is quite another thing to say that the effort is useless or counter productive. That reaction is not animal advocacy, it is fifth column veganism.
The alleged war between welfare and abolition in the animal rights movement (that is, among those who support gradual efforts to achieve as much benefit for nonhuman animals as possible vs. those who say a consistent message of total abolition now is the only way to reach that goal) is mostly a fabrication of those who represent exploitation industries but act as if they are motivated by nonhuman animal concerns.
The only real clash (if you can call it that) in animal advocacy is between those who support direct action (disrupting slaughterhouse trucks or whaling ships or rescuing victims from laboratories) and those who focus on legislation and legal means of achieving results.
There may be some well-meaning but narrow-minded academic or starry-eyed youth who puts idealism before practicality, and believe their personal commitment to boycotting participation in animal exploitation is enough for them, but those that aggressively push for abolition over welfare reform in their discussions with animal advocates are all but certainly fifth column vegans.
It makes absolutely no sense for someone who genuinely cares about other animals to dismiss any efforts to help them now. It makes even less sense to dismiss these efforts without a concrete alternative. Those calling themselves abolitionists do not have a plan to end exploitation and seem either ignorant of or indifferent to the reality of the problem, social forces, industry counter measures, and human nature.
People do not usually spend 24 hours a day thinking about others. They are easily distracted, and the mass media bombardment by exploitation industries, as well as pressure from friends and family to conform may not have an effect on an independent thinker with the personal fortitude of Leonardo da Vinci, but for many others, they do. If we truly care about helping animals we have to recognize the scope of the task at hand.
Yes, we want people to instantly see that these things are horribly wrong and not only commit to change but be evangelical in getting others to see the light as well, but even if this could happen (and it usually cannot), this is not enough—in fact, unless you have access to a mass media platform to spread this message and on a regular basis (as the exploitation industries have currently), you will be trying to topple a skyscraper by breaking a few windows on the 30th floor.
Austrian animal activist Martin Balluch has fought successfully for sweeping legislative reforms and believes that attacking industries— reforming or banning them outright is the only way to bring us closer to a society in line with vegan beliefs. As structural changes are made, people in society will grow accustomed to the changes and accept them as normal, this supporting more of the same. He has argued that “people are more social than rational.”
Truth be told, unless conversion rates for veganism suddenly skyrocket, animals are in the hands of compassionate non vegans who are moved to support small reforms that the public is easily educated on and impossible to reject, which slowly but surely changes community attitudes towards nonhuman animals and allows for further education/reform. Someone who uses products that come from exploitation, but do care about suffering, are at least a likely to support reforms as a vegan, perhaps even more so, since they would have a stronger sense of guilt and impulse to “do something.”
There is no structure in place which would allow the public to receive a vegan message that would stick, or provide a mechanism to bring about a vegan society. Think about it. How would meat and dairy industries shut down—and how long would it take? Veganism makes total sense—but the reality is how do you market the product (veganism)—and how do you prevent advertising by your competition (the meat/dairy corporations) that blocks your message when they are selling their wares at every street corner? These questions are not addressed by fifth column vegans beyond a fuzzy “let the market decide” concept which does not favor veganism. They can eloquently discuss veganism and animal concerns in articles all they want to, but this does not constitute practical change. This demonstrates the psychopathic cleverness of animal agriculture—for they can pay lip service to suffering, morality, or ecological destruction, but only because they know it has no effect on their immediate selfish interests.
Humane CERTIFIED FARMS ARE BAD, FACTORY FARMS ARE GOOD
Representatives for the meat and dairy industry routinely lie in the media about the way animals are treated. They claim that activists for reforms are hurting the family farmer, implying that the animals are able to enjoy grass, sitting in the sunshine, and companionship. In truth 99 % of meat and dairy production in North America comes from industrial factory farms, not small farms. Only 1% is classified as “humane certified.” Most animals are born into nightmarish conditions few could have the twisted imagination to visualize—not even Hieronymus Bosch depicted anything comparable to the Hell of 21st century animal agriculture.
Fifth Column vegans will focus on the 1% only, claiming those “pretending” to care about animal treatment as the real threat to animals. To the non vegan public and major media, they will say that the 1 %, “humane certified label” is a fraud, which implies that the public would be better off not supporting “useless” reforms pushed for by big charities but continue to buy from the “honest” 99% traditional meat and dairy “farmer.”
The Fifth Column vegan does not give a passionate argument for veganism or animal rights at the same time we might add.
Their goal is not to awaken the public to a message of “animal concerns,” but to discredit those who do make such a message to the public.
When speaking to vegans and animal rights activists, the fifth column vegan depicts big charities and humane certified as a Machiavellian scheme to spread the “humane myth” across the land in order to deceive the public and ensure animals are enslaved and die for an unnecessary diet until the end of time. This of course ignores the fact that small farms cannot feed the world population at current levels without causing immense ecological disaster, and therefore it is an imaginary threat and merely a scare tactic.
The real purpose is an effort to discredit “humane certified,” welfare reforms and influential companies (Whole Foods, Chipotle) that educate and encourage the public to think and care about animal concerns. Such influences can lead the public to support further reforms, including pressure to eliminate corporate subsidies that go to the 99% meat and dairy industry in order to artificially lower their costs and prices (in addition to the cost-saving measures gained by treating animals like inanimate manufacturing products). Public awareness of animal concerns and higher costs for meat and dairy encourage people to go vegan, not the opposite.
The exploitation industries know this, which is why they have agents preaching abolition or nothing.
Let’s imagine for a moment that anti-welfare reform vegans get their wish. Tomorrow morning PETA and HSUS and all the animal concern organizations announce they are abandoning present campaigns and switching entirely to veganism or nothing promotion exactly as some abolitionists have preached for decades. Everyone should abstain from all animal products as much as possible—meat, dairy, clothing, you name it. So what happens next? Well the news media would likely report the story for a little while—call the groups crackpots or extremists and leave it at that. Without these groups focusing on farms and other single issue campaigns the media will lose interest and stop talking about them. Why would the news invite PETA or HSUS on air to talk about veganism when there would be no single issue to focus on? Farms? Nope. Whales in captivity? Nope. Gary Francione, the “animal rights activist” expert, has said all SICs are bad (other than adopting cats and dogs from shelters—which as we pointed out, exploitation industry/anti-vegan groups do not oppose). The organizations will lose their donations since people would have no incentive to donate to groups promoting a kind of moral perfection lifestyle while ignoring specific examples of cruelty and exploitation. So in the end—you would have no big animal groups and exploitation industry would have no pressure to change policy.
Mission accomplished for a Fifth Column Vegan/Total failure for sincere animal activists who are suckered by this “abolitionist approach” philosophy.
Fifth Column Vegans and Animal Rights Terrorism
Vivisectors, the meat and dairy industry, the fur industry, hunters—those opposed to any and all animal concerns, like to paint a picture of violent animal rights extremists—but in truth what they consider violent is passionate language, victim rescues, or strategic property damage. There is very little concrete evidence of animal activists violently attacking, maiming, or killing exploiters (while there are cases of the contrary-–activists injured or killed by animal exploiters–dating as far back to the Brown Dog Affair of 1905 when London medical students rioted over a commemorative statue of a dog tortured by vivisectors for two months, attacking activists and police in an effort to destroy it). In the publicized cases, it is an outspoken vivisector like Colin Blakemore who alleges he was attacked, or had a bomb sent to him that “almost” detonated around their family or children. Blakemore claims to be a target of constant terror tactics and yet can find the courage to take a daily run for exercise.
To repeat Shaw: “Consequently the vivisector…is…through the pressure of public opinion, a much more resolute and uncompromising liar.”
And yet, we do find some characterizing themselves as vegans and abolitionists who agree with the vivisector’s claims of activist violence. At present animal advocacy is far more peaceful than other social movements. There are numerous examples of anti-abortion violence but nothing to compare to it in animal rights. If there were a case of a vivisector killed by an animal activist there is no doubt the news media would resurrect the name every time the topic came up for discussion.
Fifth Column Vegans Cherry Pick the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade
It is 1800 and you, opposed to slavery, see a slave ship in port with the hull on fire threatening to horribly scald the slaves in front of many onlookers. You can help the slave ship crew pour water on the fire to put it out which means the slaves will be spared burning but still be carted off to their destinations to face a life of servitude and abuse.
Or you could stand by shouting slavery is wrong—and use the misery of the scalded slaves as proof of this truth.
Such a situation would no doubt test the sincerity of the activist’s commitment to compassion and justice and equality.
Ideally one wants to see an end to exploitation practices but also wants to help the victims in whatever way one can along the way to abolition.
The major industries that exploit nonhuman animals and their supporters in government are ruthless and cunning, and determined to maintain profits as long as possible, and resist any effort at reform.
Exploitation industries do not want the majority of public to see how nonhuman animals are treated, and they certainly don’t want a coalition of varied interests to join forces against them.
Fifth Column Vegans misrepresent the history of slavery and the methods used to fight it on order to serve an agenda of discouraging successful advocacy efforts.
Fifth Column Vegans will claim that anti-slavery activists were ideologically pure abolitionists, that they were united behind this message, that they refused to compromise on a belief in universal human rights and justice. They are revealing their adherence to the typical exploiter statement: “Only humans can have rights and those that regard humans and animals as equal are the reason why we had slavery and concentration camps.”
What the Fifth Column Vegans leave out in the history of slavery is the evidence that would debunk their claims that it came to an end thanks to a unified uncompromising message of universal human rights.
Those best known as “abolitionists’ were advocating economic sabotage and violence—the most famous, John Brown, killed several slavery supporters. Others, such as the Quakers, endorsed peaceful resistance and product boycotts.
To a resolute supporter of slavery, everyone who criticized slavery was an abolitionist.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, the opponents of nonhuman animals routinely slander advocates as terrorists and violent extremists even if they are only seeking a law that forces vivisectors to be decent enough to provide daily food and water to the innocent victims they torture. Likewise, the defenders of slavery also slandered everyone with the same title—whether one wanted slavery abolished now, or in the future, or merely regulated—they were called abolitionists. In the days of the fight over slavery, abolitionist meant extremist, just as “animal rights activist” is interpreted as extremist when one is batting for the exploiters’ side.
The mainstream anti-slavery movement was “welfarist,” supporting gradual, incremental steps, and legislative reforms. Some of them, such as Abraham Lincoln, had family ties to slavery. You might even say some of them were racist, being against cruelty to Africans, but not willing to have them run for political office, and especially not live in the same neighborhood. To a number of these prominent anti-slavery leaders, the abolitionists were insignificant or extremists.
Others, like ex-slave Frederick Douglass, who supported many human rights positions, made familiar compromises—supporting the vote for black men and rejecting entreaties by his ally Elizabeth Stanton to stand firm on a vote for women to be included in the same legislation. Since coalition support for extending the vote to black males was so thin (and violently opposed even after ratification), he did not want to see it defeated by a wider demand for human rights concessions.
Douglass opposed John Brown’s call for armed rebellion, fearing it would turn public opinion against the cause (and there was a backlash against abolitionists), and later appeared at an event with the prosecutor who had conducted Brown’s trial and execution.
Single Issue Campaigns/Incremental Reforms
The first concrete attack on slavery was not “abolitionist” in nature—it was reforming how slaves in the UK industry were transported from Africa to the West Indies. This was used by pro-slavery supporters to argue, as pro-exploitation and fifth column vegans do, that it had made slavery more profitable. James Boswell, circa 1791: “It must be admitted, that in the course of the present imprudent and dangerous attempt to bring about a total abolition, one essential advantage has been obtained, namely, a better mode of carrying the slaves from Africa to the West-Indies.”
Among true abolitionists, there were a few who advocated violence as Brown did, and others who opposed any act of violence or anti-government speech. There was an initiative popularized among some anti-slavery Quakers to use product boycotts as a means of making a protest against the slave trade while rejecting violence and civil disobedience. The Free Produce Movement gained adherents for a time, but did not ultimately achieve a pivotal effect on slavery. In fact, one of its most articulate defenders, William Lloyd Garrison, turned completely against the movement tactic, and it became a subject of ridicule among abolitionists. Note this telling quote by Wendell Phillips Garrison about the FPM: “The Abolitionists proper, we repeat, although always stigmatized as impracticable, never mounted this hobby as if the battle-horse of victory.”
“Always stigmatized as impracticable” refers not to the Free Produce Movement, but slavery abolitionism itself.
The main kind of activism that fifth column vegan abolitionists push is essentially an intense Quaker style product boycott—the one method of advocacy that was considered totally irrelevant in stopping slavery by true abolitionists and mostly off the radar of “welfarist” anti-slavery campaigners.
Open Rescue-Underground Railroad
Recently there has been calls by so-called “vegans” and “champion of animal rights” to emulate the Underground Railroad, and conduct open rescues of animals instead of covert investigations into farms (which is what the meat and dairy industry opposes most we must point out—having pushed for ag-gag laws in many states). The Underground Railroad is referenced as a role model, but typically, the fifth column vegan leaves out important details.
For one thing, the Underground Railroad was for the benefit of slaves who sought to escape and could usually aid in their own escape. Nonhuman animals cannot typically express a desire to escape therefore it is the rescuer who is making all the decisions on who they choose to rescue and where and why.
Frederick Douglass, who was an escaped slave, was critical of the Underground Railroad, saying that while he welcomed the noble intentions of the abolitionists involved; he believed that “open rescues” did more to encourage slave owners to be on the alert for escape attempts:
“I have never approved of the very public manner in which some of our western friends have conducted what they call the Underground Railroad, but which I think, by their open declarations, has been made most emphatically the upperground railroad.”
“Human Rights are Self-Evident”
Martin Luther King jr is often quoted in social activism for saying “we take these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.” Although they may have seemed self-evident to his supporters in the 1960s, it was not always so crystal clear.
One of the biggest lies that fifth column vegans use in reference to slavery, which exploitation supporters also use regularly, is that human rights is an ancient universal fact that was self-evident (unlike nonhuman rights), and the greatest impediment to justice was when humans were equated with other animals (such as with slavery and the Nazi regime). This is totally false. Human rights were not an ancient widely accepted fact, but came slowly, building in awareness over hundreds of years, usually after a focus on a particular kind of exploitation of vulnerable persons for economic reasons.
The efforts to end slavery were not based on an understanding of universal human rights, only a few advocated that idea, the main driving force was an anti-cruelty campaign, aided by technological change and a civil war. Awareness of broader social issues, for women, children, poverty, disability, nonhuman persons, prison reform, public education, etc. were encouraged by the initial focus on slavery. But progress did not not come quickly or without stubborn and ruthless opposition.
Intersectionality and Moral Perfection Demands
While sincere advocates use the history of slavery or racism to draw meaningful parallels and pursue the interests of compassion and justice, exploitation supporters and Fifth Column Vegans use it to distract/divide/demoralize advocates and the public.
The comparisons made to systemic industrial exploitation like slavery is twisted by animal exploiters into a perverse paranoid accusation that the animal activists are systemically racist. Remember the standard rhetoric of the fur industry or hunters:
“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people.”
Fifth Column Vegans make the same accusation while claiming to champion animal concerns.
For example, a fifth column vegan will allege an anti-dog meat campaign in Asia is promoting racism (subtle way of saying animal activists are racist), which suggests that potentially offending people’s sensibilities in social media forum comments is as great or greater than the systemic, economic-driven exploitation of the victims—i.e. being born to be tortured to death. A sincere activist knows where to place their priorities.
It is one thing to say you feel a particular campaign isn’t effective enough, but it is another matter entirely to say the campaign encourages racism or sexism—this latter concern implies you care more about hurt feelings than trying to address systemic, economic-driven torture and death. Not a position a true supporter of nonhuman animals would take.
Those that dismiss animal concerns have often thrown a familiar response at activists:
“Human problems come first.”
Interesectionality is being trumpeted by some so-called vegans under the guise of universal justice when in fact the goal is to bog down animal activists and discourage their efforts by giving them rules and restrictions that would not be applied to other social causes (especially ones that do not involve large industries and making money from systemic exploitation of helpless beings).
Gay rights activists are not expected to be equally devoted to fighting racism, anti-poverty activists are not brow-beaten to defend LGBT causes. Advocates for children in a war torn country are not forced to be political and condemn the dictatorial regime of their host. Single issue focus is tolerated for human concerns but not for nonhuman animal concerns, even though the most abused and exploited beings on earth are apolitical, and their exploitation crosses all ideological boundaries.
Fifth Column Vegans will equate political correctness with systemic industrial mass torture and death. This defies logic, fairness, and decency.
Another area where Intersectionality is highlighted is in responses to the arrival of Christian conservative authors who champion animal concerns.
Mathew Scully’s articulate and passionate promotion of animal issues might be the most significant development of the movement since the 90s, and should not be derided and dismissed. While many vegans are secular and adhere to left leaning politics, outreach beyond this group is absolutely vital if one wants to see significant gains for the victims of exploitation who as we have said before, are apolitical and non partisan. A speech writer for a sitting US president is extremely well positioned and equipped to advertise these issues to the public, far more than philosophy academics with an audience that primarily consists of their students.
To reject efforts to gain the support of a larger segment of society for the critical cause of innocent beings born into hellish suffering due to differences in ideology is to abandon them for trivial and selfish reasons. Whatever one’s position on social programs, gun control, or abortion, the scale of nonhuman animal exploitation is such that it not only requires but deserves independent attention, not a backseat to a “humans first” mantra.
Intersectionality is not only an effort to distract, divide, and demoralize advocates with a charge of racism, sexism, or hating people, but also a moral perfection demand. As we have said before, neither intersectionality nor moral perfection existed among those fighting slavery.
The definition of vegan used to mean someone who was committed to opposing the exploitation of nonhuman animals and making a personal commitment to avoiding products that are connected to such exploitation (as much as possible). There is no rule book on this, though avoidance of meat and dairy, fur, hides, is usually a standard lifestyle profile. But, just as the word vegetarian has seen its definition subject to personal interpretation, vegan has naturally undergone the same phenomenon. On one end you have those who aren’t as strict in their definition, and on the other, those who go to great lengths to divorce themselves from any tie to exploitation.
While this behavior can be a personal aim, there has been an orchestrated effort by industry (indeed—anti-vegans) to promote a special kind of vegan perfectionism in order to distract/divide/demoralize animal advocates.
This vegan perfection demand attempts to make personal purity the primary objective while diminishing attention to industry—or rather, suggesting that those who have criticized industry practices and strive to bring it to the public attention are being tricked by, or even collaborating with industry, and against nonhuman victims.
“Vegan” Gary Francione will put the focus on the “animal people” as he calls them, demanding they achieve a vegan state according to his own definition, otherwise they are guilty of being hypocrites and (in his mind), worse than those non vegans (or anti-vegans) who are actively breeding, torturing, and killing victims for profit.
The aim is really to change the conversation—and keep advocates busy chasing perfection and fighting among themselves so industry can get on with their business—or at the very least, delay the inevitable.
He often frames his points in the major media as an attack on the animal people—that they are hypocrites—that they should look at themselves before criticizing others—meaning, the abusers are not the problem—the activists are. In other words they must be morally perfect. He might give lip service to meat and dairy exploitation when on a major network news program but not as a sincere and passionate vegan/animal activist, rather he speaks as a non vegan exploiter would in order to deflect from the issue at hand.
Whether it is a CNN television segment on cat abuse or a NYT column on horse carriages, he downplays the advocacy topic and steers discussion to attacks on the advocates. He is inclined to avoid giving a detailed summation of slaughterhouse cruelty or the destructive effects of animal agriculture on the environment to a public that could benefit from the information.
Francione is fond of saying that an animal person who buys meat from a store is no different than Michael Vick. “We are all Michal Vick.” A meat eater who opposes animal cruelty is no different from serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. He has also said that committing a murder directly or hiring someone to do it for you are regarded as the same thing by law and therefore a purchaser of meat is no different from the slaughterhouse worker or dog fighter. But he knows perfectly well that nonhumans are systemically exploited by industry and that current cultural beliefs regard meat and dairy the same way African slavery was viewed in 1700. Killing an African slave was not regarded as murder but an insurance loss. By Francione’s logic, someone who pays taxes and supports an army for defense is as guilty as a soldier who massacres a village in a foreign war–the taxpayer is just as guilty as the soldier-regardless of whether the latter is following orders or personally sadistic or uses a gun, knife, fire bomb etc. and whether or not the taxpayer approves. This kind of conflating of action is meant to dismiss the focus—the victim at hand—the nonhuman animal–whether they be a stray cat on the street or a dog in a Chinese fur farm or a pig in a Florida slaughterhouse. It seeks to undermine the message of animal concern.
A sincere vegan may think that his comparisons to Jeffrey Dahmer are justified in a general way, but they are thinking as an idealistic vegan convert, not as a member of the general public. His comments are not meant to enlighten, but alienate. He can demoralize and distract animal advocates and project the image that animal rights “leaders” like himself are extremists. It is a win-win situation (for exploiters, not their victims).
Francione is rather fond of the term “moral schizophrenia” to describe the disconnection between those who care about some animals that come to focus in abuse cases and single issue campaigns, but not the ones they eat without a second thought thanks to upbringing in cultures where it is the norm. Once more, let us look back at typical comments made by industry exploiters:
“These animal rights activists are crazy/they want to abolish everything! They want to take your freedoms and rights!”
Moral schizophrenia—a kind of crazed thinking that afflicts advocates for animals. “Go vegan or nothing,” a moral perfection demand that vivisectors and hunters have said for decades in response to criticism and to scare the general public. Francione advises animal activists to avoid single issue campaigns and push for total abolition now, using a moral perfection definition of veganism.
Truth be told when Gary Francione is in the media to represent animal rights, the meat industry, fur industry, hunters, vivisectors, dog fighters, and cockfighters need not fear, their interests are being well looked after.
Fifth Column Vegans and the No Kill Shelter Movement
Perhaps the vilest way that fifth column vegans have attacked activism is by using abused or abandoned animals dumped into shelters as pawns in the fight against animal advocacy groups that target exploitation industries. The public face for this scam is Nathan Winograd, a 20 year vegan who claims that there is no overpopulation of cats and dogs and the real problem is not pet stores and breeders, but rather big advocacy groups that use the myth of overpopulation to make money while sacrificing animals in mass extermination camps. Remember those common attacks that vivisectors and other exploiters have used against animal activists?
“Large activist groups that oppose vivisection and other industry exploitation needlessly kill shelter animals when they can use donated money to keep them housed indefinitely
Winograd appears determined to disrupt if not dismantle the shelter system, while putting animals in harms’ way, either being caged and stockpiled in unregulated No Kill shelters or given out to people without thorough background checks. The philosophy of his opponents PETA and HSUS has been that suffering is worse than death, and if quality homes are not found for the animals, then it is better they are carefully euthanized rather than the alternative. In addition, these advocacy groups must contend with the unregulated shelters that either through mismanagement or legal indifference will abuse animals or use cruel methods of extermination. As well, sincere shelters have in the past had to choose between killing animals after a waiting period or be legally obligated to turn them over as fodder for vivisection labs.
There are many perils that domesticated animals bred for human use can and do face.
But Winograd actively seeks to support the lies of vivisectors and other opponents of animal welfare or rights—that the animal groups are systemically and maliciously killing healthy animals when they have the money to keep them alive.
While he, like vivisectors, demands that PETA put its donations to housing the animals indefinitely, he does not make any demands for financial contribution from pet industry or breeder organizations that “create” the shelter animal situation. Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem.
He has pushed for “rescue access” legislation which may seem at first glance to give shelter animals a reprieve from death, but which actually lowers the standards in place to ensure animals do not end up in abusive situations—something Winograd cares nothing about.
He also opposes breed specific legislation such as bans on the breeding and sale of pit bulls in the guise of opposing discrimination against dogs. Just as some dogs are bred for speed or sense of smell, others like the pit bull, have been bred for aggression, and while a dog may go through life without a violent incident, to deny that the dog has been manipulated by human tampering (and inbreeding) to possess exaggerated characteristics is to deny reality and condone dog attacks and the victimization of the breed itself. On one hand ruthless politicians seek to have all pit bulls rounded up and killed so they support BSL for this purpose, and on the other, dog fighters oppose BSL because they do not want to have their “supply” of exploited dogs jeopardized. Groups like PETA support efforts to discourage the breeding of the animals primarily for benefit of pit bulls and public safety (the human/nonhumans who are annually victims of attacks). Winograd tries to distort PETA’s intentions, equating them with the “dog exterminator” politicians, while through his No Kill shelters he encourages the adoption of pit bulls, even ones with a dangerous reputation, so that any public incidents can be used to further discredit the shelter system for offering “damaged goods,” which in turn gives promotion to pet stores and breeders.
The image of the dog catcher has long been a negative one in the public, as private contractors motivated by money and not concern for animals were prevalent until modern animal advocacy started to tackle the issue. Winograd and other opponents of animal concerns have exploited this aversion to the “dog catcher” stereotype to slander well meaning advocates in order to distract/divide/demoralize, and promote the interests of the meat and dairy industry, vivisection, pet industry, and other exploiters of animals.
No person or organization is perfect or beyond criticism, but there is fair and constructive criticism and the opposite. Peter Singer’s version of utilitarianism is not an intuitive guide for animal rights issues—he does not categorically oppose animal consumption like Leonardo da Vinci or Tolstoy, nor the unequivocal rejection of their use for medical research as George Bernard Shaw did. He admits this himself, however, despite these lapses his promotion of nonhuman animal concerns did help energize animal advocacy and spread a desperately needed message to quarters where it needed to be heard.
Others have done the same, and we are at a point where even a speechwriter for conservative politicians is promoting animal concerns and billionaires invest in vegan product development.
Those who seek to demoralize advocates will say that 200 years of animal welfare has been an abysmal failure and there is more exploitation than ever before. This delusional appraisal you would expect from the most obscene callous exploiter of innocent animal victims, but when said by someone who claims to be the animals’ greatest champion we need to question their sincere concern.
200 years ago dogs and cats were tortured freely in the streets. Now, a dog left on a leash in a yard may be the focus of public outcry. 100 years ago zoos would slaughter wild animals and take the survivors to captivity. Now, a “surplus” giraffe executed in front of bystanders can bring a massive out pouring of criticism.
The advances have not come easily, and new means of inflicting suffering and death have advanced at least as much, but a change in public perception has happened, and one cannot dismiss this or the tactics that were used to achieve it.
Yes, the cuteness of an infant seal being bludgeoned to death for the garment industry was used to generate public interest when a more basic moral appeal could not attract attention. The focus on fur trapping or cosmetic testing was aimed primarily at women for a reason—as this was the customer base and the demographic most likely to be supportive. In doing so a foundation was established to spread further. Undeniably cruel and unnecessary exploitation practices such as cockfighting or bear baiting or crush videos have found wide coalitions against them.
From this, further campaigns are launched with even wider aims. It is a slow process but vital, inevitable, since the ability to engage public attention in order to present new ideas (or rather old ideas) and make them stick through repetitive exposure is not easy, especially when those who seek to oppose your efforts are determined to not only maintain the status quo, but expand their profits. Industries have massive advertising advantages which are why big “welfare” organizations are the strongest opposition to them, and the reason so many fifth column vegans are focused on them, not the exploiters.
Human social issues are not perfect either. We still have wars, crime, racial and religious intolerance, and exploitation of women, children and every other kind of misery, sporadic in nature if not systemic. If someone indifferent to suffering and injustice can exploit the vulnerable and gain profit from it, you can bet there is a customer somewhere waiting to purchase. Progress towards sanity and peace is always in danger of being disturbed by a trouble maker and those willing to follow behind.
But we do not let this reality deter us from the common sense of compassion and justice.
The most sincere expression of animal rights is a golden rule philosophy of do unto others and you would have them do unto you. If you were imprisoned when innocent and scheduled for a torturous execution you would welcome anything that relieves your plight—if freedom is not possible then a reduction in the misery of your unjust punishment is better than nothing.
No one truly sincere in their caring about other animals would advocate that they be abandoned to their fate if total abolition is not possible today. Nor would they say the more the victim suffers, the stronger the case can be made for their release. If we apply this to human concerns we can see the absurdity and double standard. It would be saying the best way to overthrow a capitalist system is to exploit sweatshops workers as much as possible, or end a war by subjecting civilians to the worst possible weapons.
Fifth Column Vegans are well funded, but they have a fatal weakness, which is that they can only carry the performance of a sincere activist so far, since they are bound by their industry-backed goals and a tired, deceitful message that reeks of malicious cruelty and incoherent bigotry. They are like scarecrows in tuxedos, fancy to look at but just as frail as their kin in old shirts and overalls, with the difference being that their stuffing was not gathered from sun-warmed haystacks, but scraped from the floor of the slaughterhouse.
I must confess that I was once fooled by Fifth Column Vegans to a certain extent, thus my enthusiasm to expose their tricks even though I suspect their impact is too small to seriously affect major advocacy initiatives. Then again, why take the chance? In our previous article on the topic Fifth Column Veganism we were polite in our description of Fifth Column Vegans—suggesting that one might be sincere but misguided. However, after gathering more evidence, we will just assume the worst until news comes that they had a change of heart. This can they do by ceasing to represent the interests of major exploiters of nonhuman animals. The advantage of this stance is instead of legitimatizing their views–we turn the discussion back to exploiters and question why they are agreeing with the worst enemies of animals.
Rick Berman (industry lobbyist): “Groups such as PETA and Mercy for Animals are transparent as activist groups focused on ‘animal rights’, he says. HSUS and its true agenda have been harder for the public to recognise. This organization has maintained a front focused on animal welfare and humane care but make no mistake, said Mr Berman, it is in lock step in viewpoint and agenda with the animal rights groups. Statement such as ‘the meat industry equals systematic murder’ are part of its rhetoric.”
“Is this really a group you can negotiate with?” asked Mr Berman. “We’re talking about people who represent a vegan culture, who are basically equating animals with people and advocating an end to eating meat. It’s animal rights and an extreme agenda masquerading as animal welfare.”
Notice here that Gary Francione is advocating what Rick Berman wants–Francione says the focus should be on promoting veganism not welfare, and that is what Rock Berman says would harm animal interests: “If HSUS disclosed its true agenda, it would be out of business, he believes. But by portraying itself as a welfare organisation and manipulating the public consciousness, it has become a gargantuan money machine collecting over $130 million annually to support its true anti-meat agenda.”
Mr Berman said: “Groups like this are constantly looking for ways to make their points seem legitimate and mainstream, to get the support they need to advance their own self-interest and true agenda.”
Welfare vs Abolition
We do not know when a “rift” in animal advocacy appeared, however, an article in the January/February 1992 Animals Agenda gives us a good summary of the positions as presented by Tom Regan and Gary Francione on one side and Ingrid Newkirk on the other. http://arzonetranscripts.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/point_counterpoint-regan_francione_newkirk.pdf
A point made by Regan and Francione is revealing:
‘“We should add that ARAs who support animal welfare means are playing into the hands of the biomedical establishment’s current strategy of portraying this “temporary” acceptance of animal welfare as proof of the “dishonesty” of the animal rights movement. In a recently published article, Patrick Concannon of Cornell Veterinary School argues that animal rights advocates often support welfare reforms, but “are not bound by any moral requirement to be truthful about their ultimate goals and intentions.” The animal rights movement must be careful to ensure that these untruths do not succeed in creating an impression of a movement that is dishonest in any sense.’ Tom Regan/Gary Francione The Animals Agenda 1992 January/February
It is very odd that those who claim sincere support for all animal concerns (indeed a leadership role in such matters) would be so worried about the typical delusional “shoot the messenger” attacks of vivisectors. A vivisection supporter who tries to criticize animal advocates as liars for seeking reforms that a wide sector of the public supports by accusing them of misrepresenting their true intentions is not only foolish but malicious—and not worthy of quoting. It certainly makes a poor argument for why “abolition only” should be adopted.
Vivisectors and other exploiters would be all too happy for animal advocates to divert public discussions away from the matter of why a vivisector is pouring acid into a rabbit’s eyes for the 100th time or why they do not want to provide water and food to their victims which they claim they care so dearly about. This would be a propaganda godsend for them. Anyone who supports compassion, mercy, social decency and justice would be in favor if reducing the suffering and exploitation of innocent beings as much as possible—this is a given—it does not even need mentioning. The only time where it can be valuable to discuss in media is in situations where the advocates for animals are not focusing on a particular issue. As we have said before, whether it is a vivisector, a hunter, a meat industry representative, they always throw in a mention that “crazy” animal activists want to abolish everything. The principles of veganism need not be mentioned, since the opponents of all things vegan are bound to bring it up as a scare tactic and diversion…in addition to fifth column vegans of course.
Also from the same article, Ingrid Newkirk defends the single issue/welfare reform idea by an anecdote about a petition she circulated to vegetarians to oppose a cost-saving attempt by the meat industry to eliminate water to animals awaiting slaughter. The petition to the vegetarians for support was sent back unsigned with the excuse: “We are ethically opposed to the slaughter of animals for food, therefore we cannot get involved.”
She writes: “luckily, the water requirement remained in place, but I cannot imagine how those vegetarians with clean hands, who declined to help, could explain their politics to the poor cows, sitting in the dust with parched throats. The issue was not to slaughter or not, it was to water or not. Sometimes philosophy can get in the way of helping animals suffer less during the many years before they achieve the rights we wish for them.”
When John Robbins and Howard Lyman enjoyed the media airwaves in the 1990s, they were able to attack animal agriculture in a major way. These were two insiders to the workings of the meat and dairy industry blowing the whistle on it in talk shows and news programs. Lyman’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey caused shockwaves in the stock market for the cattle industry and they unsuccessfully tried to sue.
But after Mad Cow disease and the 2000 foot and mouth disease outbreaks, Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan appeared on the scene, causing Robbins and Lyman to fade from attention. Neither Schlosser nor Pollan are Fifth Column Vegans since they do not advocate abstinence from animal agriculture (in fact I have observed them being dismissive of animal concerns). But their focus on food safety and workers’ rights did have some negative reference to factory farms and some animal abuse footage found its way into the documentary Food Inc. Due to the fact that the film had wide release, it appears to have helped encouraged some to take animal concerns seriously and vegetarianism/veganism even if it seeks to promote a short term, band-aid solution of unsustainable small farms and locavore philosophy.
Here’s an old story on Winograd that once again reaffirms his commitment to the philosophy “who cares if they suffer as long as they aren’t dead.” Winograd has criticized spay and neutering programs but lends support to declawing, a practice considered cruel by those who actually care about animals once they leave a shelter. Here he proves he cares much more about emptying his shelter than being sure the animals are in a home where they are respected and wont end up back in another shelter or abandoned on the street (without claws).
“Shelters should relax their standards when it’s in the animals’ best interest. For example, many shelters won’t adopt cats to families that will declaw them,” said Nathan Winograd, director of the Tompkins County (N.Y.) SPCA. When his shelter found a woman who willing to take two kittens with the feline-leukemia virus, but her husband insisted they be declawed to protect the couple’s new furniture, Winograd agreed. After all, he figured if he could ask the kittens whether they would rather have their fingertips amputated or be dead, they would choose the former. Three years later, the cats are still happy in that home.”
Some might ask how I could regard Gary Francione as ideologically committed to helping exploitation industries when he has written books on animal rights. Yes, he has–books that only get read by vegans or would-be vegans. As I have said, industries do not care about veganism–especially the kind that gets promoted in a niche market. They care about things that affect their bottom line right now–like welfare campaigns. You’ll notice he will occasionally mention doing some debate with an opponent of animal rights, but it is usually some obscure professor on topics like “do plants feel pain?” He does not seek to promote animal concerns to the wider public. Not like the groups he attacks. Exploiters? He is polite and defends them. Don’t take my word for it–watch him in action. Gary Francione is asked about a cat abuse case where he completely wastes the opportunity to discuss animal concerns in order to reinforce it and educate the public:
He agrees with the host that a cat is not a person (on his facebook page he has corrected people for saying “it” instead of he or she when referring to nonhuman animals), he mentions “racism” and we need no crystal ball to know who he was going to accuse of that. He lends support to the host’s foolish idea that a stray cat gets more attention from the law than humans would—as anyone but an idiot knows, unless the human was a baby, the force of the kick by the assailant would be negligible in harm. This is the type of idea you would expect from a backwoods cockfighter or bear baiter, not a university law professor who claims to be an expert supporter of animals (I mean nonhuman animals).
He does mention meat and dairy—but only in passing, and only to reinforce the idea that “animal people” upset about the cat have bigger problems. He could have talked about the pet industry or breeders but why do that when it would promote animal concerns not attack advocates? He has criticized Mercy for Animals: “The word “vegan” appears nowhere in the press release.” And yet in the CNN interview he does not mention it either.
Recently Chris Hedges, a Left-leaning journalist announced that he had become vegan. Good news as it means he can spread veganism to a greater segment of the “progressive” community. The bad new is he interviewed Francione.
“This is not, however, an issue about whether animals are tortured,” he went on. “The big issue now is factory farming. Do I think factory farming is bad? Well, yes, but so what? Family farms are bad as well. There is a lot of violence that happens on family farms. Consider two slaveholders—one who beats his slaves 25 times a week and the other who beats his slaves once a week. Is Slaveholder Two better? The answer is yes, but it does not address the morality of slavery.”
Note that Francione does not point out that factory farms make up 99% of meat dairy production or that the Free Produce Movement type of boycott he advocates was unsuccessful in abolishing slavery.
Francione excoriates organic family farms that raise free-range chickens and grass-fed cattle. “The idea that loving something is consistent with killing it is not dissimilar from the man who says ‘I love my wife but I beat her a lot,’ ” he said. “I am not interested in discussions about the cruelty of factory farming. It does not matter. It is not a question of whether you go into the woods, buy a small farm and the animals come into the house at night so you can all play cards. The entire institution of animal exploitation is wrong.”
Francione conflates current attitudes on wife beating with current attitudes on animal agriculture. As he knows, you can buy the products of the meat industry on any corner. By contrast, you cannot buy an item advertised for beating your wife.
“Most animal rights activists argue that ‘using them is not the problem, the problem is how we treat them.’ My view is that using them is the problem. It does not matter how well we treat them. Obviously, it is worse to impose more suffering than less suffering, but that does not mean it is all right to use them in a ‘humane’ way. If someone sneaks into your room while you are sleeping and blows your brains out and you do not feel a thing, you are still harmed. You may not have suffered. But you have been harmed.”
“All of the large animal charities, such as PETA and HSUS, are businesses,” he said. “They want to maximize their donor base so they try and let everyone stay in their comfort zone. They don’t take the position that veganism is the only rationally and morally acceptable response to the recognition that animals have moral significance. They promote reform and not abolition.”
Gary Francione seeks to distract/divide/demoralize newbie vegans with his message that most animal rights activists support the use of animals not their abolition. As we have said before, he downplays the role of industrial exploiters and attacks anyone who shows any expressed interest in animal concerns. Also, his use of “animal rights activists” is deceptive, since an organization like HSUS is usually considered an animal rights organization by its strongest enemies—those who resist all welfare reforms.
“This comes as no surprise. Ever since 2005, Mercy for Animals, along with Peter Singer and the other large animal welfare groups, have explicitly and publicly embraced “happy exploitation.”
Francione’s tactics regarded favorably by a Meat Industry writer: http://www.cattlenetwork.com/news/meat-matter-great-debate
I went vegan in the late 1980s but read very little of Singer and perhaps nothing of Regan. I did not hear mention of either outside of philosophy books and my introduction to animal concerns was Faces of Death and Star Trek. I did not even know about the horrors of factory farms until an X-Files episode which described feeding the corpses of chickens to chickens–I naively assumed this was science fiction. I went vegan due to small farms and reinforced/encouraged by quotes by Tolstoy and others.
So reading more deeply into Tom Regan’s beliefs, he expresses a view somewhat similar to Francione but without the attacks on activists or defenses of exploiters (from what we have observed).
UPDATE: Alas, in reading more on Tom Regan some very large billowy red flags come up. In the link below he gives a long winded interview which he was given days to respond to. He makes a few statements which are seriously problematic. First, while claiming that he supported ALF activities in the 1980s, he now says that ARAs became violent–like Francione, he characterizes property damage as violence. He also says he prefers “open rescues.” Frederic Douglas, the anti-slavery activist of the 19th century, considered open rescues to be more beneficial to the slave owner than slaves–and for animal advocates, would mean putting not only the activist at risk from the law or vindictive animal exploiters, but risks the rescued animal as well. Open rescues benefit the exploiter. Also, in a 2001 interview in Vegan Voice quoted by a question poser, he endorsed incremental reforms. “ARM activists can be both radical and realistic. On the radical side, we work for empty, not merely larger, cages. On the realistic side, we know that the cages will not be empty tomorrow. The wall of oppression has to be taken apart one brick at a time. We are not going to have every right of every animal respected in one fell swoop; but we can have some rights of some animals respected in an incremental basis. For example, we can pass legislation that prohibits debeaking or face branding of cattle, legislation designed to respect an animal’s right to bodily integrity within a system of exploitation even while we cannot thereby end that system of exploitation. Changes like these (incremental rights respecting changes) are the kind of change I support, the kind I think anyone committed to animal rights should support.”
But in the 2011 interview he says: “I don’t think ARAs should be working for improved welfare for the prisoners exploited by the animal industrial complex. To make such improvements will only make their exploitation more socially acceptable and, as a result, perpetuate the very evils we oppose. To my way of thinking, as I wrote twenty-five years ago, “to reform absolute injustice is to prolong injustice.” http://arzone.ning.com/profiles/blogs/professor-tom-regan#sthash.B6jvNl2B.dpuf
A website operated by filmmakers behind the documentary Peaceable Kingdom and its sequel which, unlike Food Inc., did not enjoy wide circulation (beyond vegans that is). A very strong Fifth Column Veganism vibe emanates from it. The website misrepresents the history of slavery to completely ignore welfare reforms and the Free Produce Movement. Like Francione they advocate “go vegan or nothing” and animal adoptions, as well as support for No Kill shelters.
They put forth the view that the greatest threat to animals is Whole Foods, using its “humane labeling” as a deception to fool activists and the public. No mention of the 99% factory farms. As of this writing the website is infrequently updated and its “grassroots” facebook page is hardly updated.
From a Humane Myth page on Whole Foods’ strategy to trick activists we find a useful theory:
You never know when a PR agency is being effective; you’ll just find your views slowly shifting.–PR Executive
Humane Myth claims the goal of Whole Foods is to:
1) Isolate the radicals
2) “Cultivate” the idealists and “educate” them into becoming “realists”
3) Co-opt the opportunists into agreeing with industry.
The opportunists they refer to are the big charities like HSUS.
Fifth Column Vegans like Humane Myth are actually doing this:
Isolate the realists (HSUS, PETA)
Cultivate the idealists (vegans and others who care about animal suffering) and educate them into becoming radicals (abolitionist or nothing vegans)
Co-opt the radicals into agreeing with industry.
DxE Direct Action Everywhere aka “It’s not violence, it’s profit.”
DxE is the newest fifth column vegan project in town. Like another group TAVS, it claims to have been inspired by Gary Francione but are now estranged from their surrogate father for personal/ideological reasons. And yet their message is virtually identical to Francione’s.
- veganism; 2. non-violence; 3. intersectionality
Francione: 2. Those who reject speciesism are committed to rejecting racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of discrimination as well.
Explanation: Some animal advocates maintain that the “animal movement” does not take a position on other forms of discrimination. That is not correct. Those of us who want justice for nonhumans are necessarily committed to justice for humans and for an end to human discrimination as well as discrimination against nonhumans. The animal movement should not, for example, be perpetuating sexism as a means to the end of animal rights. Sexism involves the commodification of women. Commodification is the problem, and not the solution.
Exploitation is not the problem, the activists are the problem.
DxE’s Wayne Hsiung reminds me of Nathan Winograd in that they both use detailed anecdotes about animal suffering before they launch into their attacks on advocates.
Hsiung employs “animal people are racist” claims, and like HumaneMyth, focuses on the evil of Whole Foods and Chipotle. Here’s a good example:
Wayne Hsiung uses the phrase “performing whiteness” to suggest that animal rights activism is a project of white colonialism. This betrays his claim of being an animal rights activist. He is attempting to change the conversation and accomplish the three Ds of a fifth column vegan: distract, divide, and demoralize.
“The Japanese activist Tetsuhiko Endo writes that “the international whaling industry makes no more than $31 million a year while major anti-whaling NGOs spend around $25 million. What have whales gotten out of all this anti-whaling money? Hunting rates that are twice as high as they were in 1990…The Nonhuman Animal rights movement was founded as a project of white supremacy.”
The above quote essentially says:
“Single issue campaigns only serve as fundraisers for big charities—they don’t care about animals—just making money”
“Protests (aka single issue campaigns), ballot initiatives, and legislative changes by activists are useless, and will only increase not decrease animal exploitation”
“A recent pro-vivisection rally in Southern California had far more diversity than the typical animal rights protest.”
“And the largest corporations in the world trumpet their diversity efforts, e.g. Coca Cola, McDonald’s, and Exxon. Corporations such as Exxon take racial diversity and cultural awareness more seriously than the animal rights movement.”
In other words:
“Animal rights activists are racist—they hate people”
Hsiung: “But when I made what I thought was a relatively uncontroversial statement – that all Chinese people in this country have had the experience of walking into a white room and feeling immediately undermined and excluded – I was met with a shockingly hostile response.”
Of course he got a hostile response. He claimed to speak for all Chinese people, and saying this in the company of animal advocates essentially changed the conversation from the victims and implied that they were all racist. Their “hostile reaction” punctuates the notion that they are racially intolerant.
Here is another example of Hsiung seeking to distract, divined, and demoralize: “Yet the video ignores the fact that, as a product of PETA-Asia, Chinese activists almost certainly played a role in this investigation. Or the fact that recent grassroots mobilizations have inspired countless Chinese to travel great distances to block trucks delivering dogs to meat factories — at great personal risk in a nation where civil disobedience is often met with violent oppression. The movement has saved thousands of dogs from slaughter through these courageous acts of nonviolent direct action. When did we last see any similar action taken in the United States for the millions of dogs killed in experiments or “shelters” including, distressingly, many thousands killed by PETA itself? Those Chinese, it seems, could attack “barbaric Americans” (and “barbaric animal activists”) for their heartlessness, cruelty, and cowardice toward dogs.”
Translation: PETA is racist or encouraging racism for not directly highlighting the contribution of Chinese activists. Instead of applauding a campaign to help animals in systemic exploitation he uses diversions to slam it and demoralize supporters. He applauds Chinese activism but for the purpose of attacking animal activists and PETA, ignoring differences in culture and law and circumstances—as the street actions against the dog meat trade in China was partly motivated by meat industry workers seizing dogs from people’s homes.
He asks why animal rights activists haven’t taken similar action against vivisection (or in a nod to fellow Fifth Column Vegan Nathan Winograd) PETA’s shelter killing in the US.
Likely we would see a similar reaction in the West if vivisectors were grabbing dogs and cats from residences also.
Thus he does what a fifth column vegan always does—instead of showing support for an effort to help animals, he distracts, divides, and demoralizes, just as any supporter of a dog meat business or vivisection would do.
Note here that he says: “So why did I — as someone who has spent the better part of 15 years fighting for the animals we use for food often at the very places where they are being held captive or killed — find myself shaking my head, laughing,.. while reading the piece?”
And yet, another Wayne, Wayne Pacelle, reporting on the same story, did not find it amusing at all: http://blog.humanesociety.org/wayne/2015/01/us-meat-animal-research-center.html
And also notice that Pacelle discusses many vegan issues besides the research lab. Hsiung mentions them as an exploiter rep would, i.e. what about the billions of animals killed? Pacelle, on the other hand, understands that this NYT article is immensely valuable in shedding light on a torture facility that has been ignored for decades:
“Indeed, factory farms every day inflict cruelties on animals about as shocking as the cruelties inflicted on the animals at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and they don’t want to have to modify their production methods one bit or give the animals even a few inches of extra space or a quick death.”
Pacelle attacks exploiters. Hsiung attacks activists and journalism that supports that effort against industry.
Why is DxE focusing on Whole Foods and Chipotles? They give reasons here which are remarkably similar to those outlined by Humane Myth. Whole Foods is the greatest threat to animals (even though they represent, at best 1% of the industry–the other 99% is factory farming).
Wayne Hsiung: “We have to empower critical voices with less bias and more knowledge, such as James McWilliams.”
A professor/journalist/author with access to the major media, he advocates for veganism (ethical diet mainly), but will intersperse articles that attack the environmental or ethical worth of animal agriculture with deliberations on whether vegans should support insect farming. He primarily targets small farms. He talks eloquently enough about animal concerns, the morality and the ecological destruction of eating meat, but the focus is away from industrial farms much of the time.
But with rare exception, those in the big, lumpy tent have thrown down a red carpet for “ethical butchers” while generally dismissing animal rights advocates as smug ascetics (which they can be) and crazed activists (ditto) who are driven more by sappy sentiment than rock-ribbed reason. It’s an easy move to make. But the problem with this dismissal—and the overall refusal to address the ethics of killing animals for food—is that it potentially anchors the Food Movement’s admirable goals in the shifting sands of an unresolved hypocrisy. Let’s call it the “omnivore’s contradiction.”
Conscientious carnivores will argue that we can justify eating animals because humans evolved to do so (the shape of our teeth proves it); that if we did not eat happy farm animals, they’d never have been born to become happy in the first place; that all is fine if an animal lives well and is “killed with respect”; that we need to recycle animals through the agricultural system to keep the soil healthy; that animals eat animals; and that in nature, it’s the survival of species and not of individuals that matters most. These arguments create room for a productive conversation.
The first is that the economics of nonindustrial animal agriculture doesn’t work. Consolidation pays. Pasture-based systems are a costly alternative to factory farming and will by necessity appeal primarily to Bittman’s “privileged” consumers rather than have broad appeal to the carnivorous masses. In perhaps the most important and overlooked book published on animal agriculture in a generation, Jayson Lusk and F. Bailey Norwood’s Compassion, by the Pound, the authors—agricultural economists—document the hard economic reality of humane farming. They show beyond a doubt that Plato’s pig requires the riches of Croesus and a horde of foodies willing to pay a mint for meat. Of course, many carnivores will happily do that. Niche support for humane meat, however, will do very little to challenge the overall allure of cheap protein churned out by agribusiness. Most consumers will always rally around the lowest price. If there is no stigma against eating animals, the cheapest options will prevail. And so will agribusiness. Simply put: you can’t beat the devil at his own game.
The second unrecognized reality is that although nonindustrial animal agriculture might appear to be substantially more humane than industrialized agriculture, small farms are only nominally more accommodating of farm animals’ full interests. My research for a book looking into the downside of small-scale animal agriculture has revealed that problems reminiscent of factory farms readily plague many of their smaller counterparts, too. Owning animals for the purposes of slaughter and consumption means that ethical corners will be cut to enhance the bottom line. As competition for privileged consumers increases, this corner cutting can only be expected to intensify.
A short list of routine and sometimes unavoidable problems prevalent on nonindustrial animal farms, all noted by farmers themselves, includes the following: excessive rates of pastured animals being killed by wild and domestic animals, mutilation of pig snouts to prevent detrimental rooting, castration without anesthesia, botched slaughters, preventive (and illicit) antibiotic use, outbreaks of salmonella and trichinosis, acute pasture damage, overuse of pesticides and animal vaccines, and routine separation of mothers and calves. Animals granted a little more space, in other words, still suffer the negative consequences of being owned for exploitation. Given that they are destined to be commodities, not companions, this should not come as a surprise. Hence the ultimate cost of failing to address the omnivore’s contradiction: the ongoing suffering of the animals that farmers and foodies say they care so much about.
Necessarily complementing this shift would be a gradual but sharp reduction in the practice of raising animals for the purposes of killing them for food, with smaller, more humane farms serving as a necessary but temporary phase in the larger mission of ending animal agriculture altogether.
In this article he discusses the “hardcore vegans” Gary Francione and abolitionist attacks on HSUS, while he appears to take the stand that both sides should come together, I feel it is slanted more in the favor of Fifth Column Vegans, since he includes Friends of Animals (an organization Francione has spoken favorably of and which is not on the hit list of Center for Consumer Freedom) while not getting HSUS to present their side. Remember that note we made about Humane Myth and the tricks of industry: “Isolate the realists.”
No, we aren’t accusing him of being a fifth column vegan—but we wanted to highlight an interview he did which was used by fifth column vegans to attack him and animal advocacy in general. Watson is media savvy; he knows what he needs to say and how to keep the discussion on topic. When asked the “what about pigs?” question he skillfully turns it into an attack on the whalers, keeping on message that does not denunciate veganism at all, but maintains focus on whaling. If it seems like he is dismissing the plight of pigs and chickens, this may indicate how much the influence of fifth column vegans has altered one’s thinking—so often has the veganism and abolition message been repeated by industry agents, it is hard not to be affected and assume a negative is present when one doesn’t exist (demoralizing success).
My editor wanted me to ask you: Why is killing a whale worse than killing a pig, for example, when a pig is intelligent, too?
I get this question from the Japanese a lot, and I find it offensive. How can anybody compare the killing of a pig to the killing of a whale? First of all, our ships are vegan. Forty percent of the fish caught from the oceans is fed to livestock – pigs and chickens are becoming major aquatic predators. The livestock industry is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions ever. The eating of meat is an ecological disaster.
Are you a vegetarian or vegan?
Yes, a vegan, but we’re promoting veganism not for animal-rights reasons but for environmental conservation reasons.
You cannot compare the killing of animals in a domestic slaughterhouse to the killing of a whale. What goes on with those whales – or dolphins, say, in Taiji – would never be tolerated in a slaughterhouse. Those slaughterhouses would be shut down. It takes from 10 to 45 minutes to kill a whale and they die in horrific agony. That would be completely intolerable and illegal in any slaughterhouse in the world.
Also they’re an endangered and protected species – pigs and cows are not. They’re part of an ecosystem, which pigs and cows are not. It always bothers me that that comparison is brought up. And especially when it’s brought up by the Japanese, who eat more pigs, cows, and chickens than all people of Australia and New Zealand combined. Only one percent of the Japanese people eat whales; for the most part they eat cows and pigs and chickens. It’s a ridiculous analogy.
Do you see any situation where it’s okay to hunt a whale, say Indigenous people who have for centuries been living off whale meat and blubber?
You know, everything has changed because we have a population of seven billion people on the planet right now, and the oceans are dying. The oceans have been so severely diminished that there’s a good chance we could kill them. And if the oceans die, we die. In light of that prospect I find it very difficult to be sympathetic to any cultural needs in order to destroy endangered species. Yeah, sure, it isn’t the Inuit’s fault that the whales have been diminished, but they can finish the job. When you get right down to it, it’s all about human beings. I don’t divide them into groups – the human species has been an extremely destructive species and has the potential to destroy the life support system for humanity. So this traditional stuff really gets to me – anything that involves killing an endangered species or destroying a habitat, if that involves tradition, I say ecology comes before tradition. I’d rather be ecologically correct than politically correct.
Watson recently commented on the internal fighting among vegans. He ignores the issue of industry agitators, but provides common sense observations:
Veggie Jesuits and Competitive Purism
‘I get the same thing with people saying in response to our campaigns to protect dolphins, “well what about cows.” They can’t seem to grasp the definition of “Sea Shepherd.” We are not the pasture shepherds or the barn shepherds. Yes the plight of cows and pigs is important and we do not eat them, but to undermine a campaign for one species by demanding that the campaign be abandoned in exchange for another is just ridiculous. It would be like me going up to a crowd of activists trying to stop bull fighting and saying, “hey what about the dolphins?”’