by Kathleen Stachowski, Other Nations, Lolo
Animal rights (AR) supporters were recently demonized in a guest column by Theresa Manzella of Willing Servants Christian horse rescue group. Willing Servants has done much good for many individual horses and their humans since it formed in response to a horse abuse case. But it’s apparent now that Willing Servants advocates not only for horses, but for industrial horse slaughter (which enables continued, indiscriminate over-breeding) and human consumption of horses, as well. To bolster the pro-slaughter position, Willing Servants’ founder took on the entire animal rights movement with conspiracy theories based on one organization, fallacies of logic, inconclusive “facts,” and baffling notions about what AR people believe.
The animal advocates I know are vegetarian, vegan, or neither. If one feels called to end horse slaughter or dog abuse and still eats fish or wears leather shoes, it’s not for me to judge. Most are not members of large AR groups; many probably don’t even consider themselves “animal rights activists.” They are simply compassionate people who want to end the suffering and exploitation of fellow sentient beings. When comparisons to Hitler are used to malign those who believe humans have a moral obligation to animals, it’s time to speak up.
Ms. Manzella mentions attending The Summit of the Horse, which must be where she got fired up to divert attention to the animal rights “agenda” by focusing on the Humane Society of the U.S. She offers decades-old quotes and “disclosure” of wrongdoing that doesn’t exist. One only has to check HSUS’s “about” page to understand why their staff consists of more attorneys than veterinarians. Her other trusted sources are HumaneWatch, a tool of Big Agriculture intent on silencing the opposition (it was recently taken to task by the L.A. Times for a disingenuous ad campaign); and Lowell Baier, President of the Boone and Crockett Club, a conspiracy theorist who sees a “secretive, clandestine, Machiavellian worldwide animal rights and liberation movement” afoot. He even claims that HSUS attempts to present itself as government-affiliated because it has “U.S.” in its name and is located in Washington, D.C.! Likewise, the Summit of the Horse has its own credibility issues; its organizer, a Wyoming legislator, is under scrutiny as well as assault and battery charges for roughing up a journalist who disputed statements by Summit personnel about horse “processing” (according to Horseback Magazine online).
Unless we merely want to reinforce the biases we already hold, this is merely to warn readers to do their own research with a critical eye. An overwhelming number of Americans (polls say over 80%) are opposed to horse slaughter, which might account for desperate attempts to discredit.
Finally, after pronouncing, “we can respectfully agree to disagree,” Ms. Manzella takes the cheapest shot of all — featuring faulty logic and disputed information: “Hitler was a vegetarian. And Hitler held animals in very high regard. Killed millions of human beings, but is reported to have revered animals. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.”
Some historians and evidence dispute Hitler was vegetarian, not that it matters one way or the other. But if faulty logic is to be our guide, let’s remember that Albert Einstein, #4 in Gallup’s poll of most admired people of the 20th Century and Time Magazine “Person of the Century,” was a vegetarian, too, toward the end of his life. Yet esteem by association is no more valid than guilt by association. Fallacious reasoning is often used to demonize the opposition in lieu of making substantial arguments. Thinking people will see through and discount this shoddy ruse.
And let’s not forget — Christians perpetrated everything from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the Salem Witchcraft trials, and Attila the Hun rode a horse.
Coincidence? No — even less. Meaningless.