“Human rights, animal rights, empathy, kindness, and love: these die and wilt in a war zone.”
-Rachel Zurer, Vegansaurus
Today on Vegansaurus, Rachel Zurer wrote a great piece on the connection between human rights and animal rights abuses called Butterball Turkey: The Abu Ghraib Of Animal Abuse. Zurer draws parallels between the action taken in response to the Abu Ghraib abuses and the abuse of turkeys by Butterball. In each case, those held accountable for the crimes were not the decision-makers and leaders, but those at the bottom. This is especially problematic in the Butterball case, because many of the workers arrested were Latino, and most likely “among the low-paid, over-worked, probably-miserable workers with the shitty job of actually witnessing the atrocious way meat is produced in this country.” It is important to recognize this fact, because animal rights activists are often characterized as caring more about the welfare of animals than of people. This is a stupid and damaging assumption given that some of the most mistreated workers in our country are those on factory farms. Health risks and poor working conditions abound. It is important that those concerned with animal welfare remember that those working at the bottom are also victims of the oppressiveness of the meat industry. As Zurer writes of the workers arrested, ” I suspect that their alleged cruelty, while not excusable, is a symptom of a systemic ill, not evidence of their personal moral failings.” Blaming workers at the bottom will do nothing to change the system that is the root of the problem. We see this so much in the conflict between Blue and Green. Are individual loggers really to blame for the loss of old growth forests? Or is it the logging companies who refuse to adapt that are the problem? When blue collar workers and environmental activists worked together to disrupt the WTO meetings at the Battle of Seattle in 1999, it was refreshing to see people often at odds with one another realize their common interests. The time has come for animal rights activists, vegans, vegetarians, and environmentalists against factory farming to do the same. Support the workers, support the animals, disrupt the systerm. Animal liberation, human liberation!