'It is said that there are four distinct stages that a social justice movement must go through before gaining widespread acceptance: First, they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they will fight you, and then you will win. Some animal groups have forgotten that nowhere does it say that you sit down and work out a compromise with your enemy.' - Jamie Cohen, August 2012.
Jamie Cohen, vegan and activist, spoke out at the Animal Rights Conference 2012 as a dissident voice amongst many at the conference who were promoting the consumption of animals and animal products. Regarding working with industries to improve conditions for animals she said, '[t]o me, this is like sitting down to Hitler trying to improve conditions for the concentration camp victims. It just isn't done. It's like making a deal with the devil.'
Animal advocates have been warned that no good would come of the tactics that we now see widely used in the community. Activists once dreamed of a vegan world, now they dream of 'humanely' raised animals, treated 'like children', before being butchered for profit. Money and clever public relations has played a crucial part in confusing animal advocates and co-opting the animal movement. Cohen remarked: '[t]he public relations industry has stolen our dreams of animal liberation and they've returned it to us packaged as illusions... they've taken away our dreams. And it is our duty to go back to those original dreams that we had when we started this and start transforming those dreams into reality'.
It's easy to get caught up in the passion and desire to help animals here and now. Co-operation between animal advocates and the industry is seen by opportunists and realists as a pragmatic, realistic way to try and reduce animal suffering from within the bowels of the dark machine. It's hard not to empathise with their position when every day the trail of blood and abuse drips from the supermarket shelves, advertising, and people's clothes. However advocating for better treatment has only complicated a simple issue. 'I only buy free-range eggs is a PR disaster for vegans, and as Cohen notes, 'I think for a vegan to advocate for humane products is like trying to clean up trash on the side of the road while throwing trash out the car window when you drive. It accomplishes nothing.'
Team Earthling is dedicated to ending animal use, not promoting it in another form. If you want a vegan world, you have to advocate for a vegan world.
'I encourage all of you to continue your efforts to gain a deeper understanding of what's going on behind the scenes in the movement and to keep working on developing your own personal vision for what authentic animal rights is.' - Jamie Cohen, 2012
- Justice for Animals, Respect for Advocates: Ideas too dangerous for corporatized animal advocacy?
- Invasion of the Movement Snatchers: A Social Justice Cause Falls Prey to the Doctrine of "Necessary Evil", James LaVeck
- Making a Killing with Animal Welfare Reform, Angel Finn & Dan Cudahy
- Replacing One Cage with Another, Gary Francione
- Partners in Exploitation, Gary Francione
- Happy Meat Making Humans Feel Better About Eating Animals, Gary Francione
© Stevie Schafer, 2012