Racism, Carnism & Speciesism
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The ideologies of racism, slavery and genocides were defended on the beliefs that certain ethnic groups, races and religions and nationalities were not equal to others.
Buying slaves, Segregation and Mass Killings have become officially illegal and therefore not as visible and accepted as it was say 50 years ago.
Modern Day Slavery is of course unfortunately still very much present, it has just taken on a different disguise and extended it’s victims. It is still based on the beliefs that one being is not equal to another and supported by the human need to control other beings, as well as nature and life itself.
Those in control have learned that they simply have to be more secretive while performing their crimes.
In 2018 and living in a western culture, you would presumably be extremely shocked if a friend or colleague suddenly announced their newly acquired slave. Just as shocked as if you came across a stall selling slaves at your weekly regional market. In 1700 this would have been quite normal in many countries.
So we don’t actually witness the atrocities of modern day human slavery or genocide or other barbarities which take place and are a normal part of life for far too many other very unfortunate individuals. We placate ourselves with the knowledge that there are laws forbidding these crimes or we count ourselves extremely lucky that we were fortunate enough to have not been born in a country in which the chances of being or becoming desperately poor and forced into bonded labour and slavery in order to survive. We count our blessings and rejoice the comfortable bubble in which we live.
We simply don’t investigate what goes on outside our bubble. Evil still takes place and is very real — the crimes have just become even more hidden and even better disguised.
Slavery, racism and our food choices
So now the connection between slavery, racism and our food choices.
Well again, “out of sight, out of mind” — just as you wouldn’t be actively involved in buying a modern day slave, you also certainly wouldn’t go to a slaughterhouse to choose your next steak and you therefore have little contact with modern day slavery and the slaughtering process of animals. Apart from never really knowing which animal or which animal part is actually being ground up to make your sausage, mice or cold cut, do you really know if the person working on the factory farm is getting paid or being beaten?
The 2013 horse meat scandal is a good example of not knowing anything about the food process and therefore not knowing what we are really eating. Because let’s be honest with ourselves, if what you are eating has the consistency of a sausage or patty or mince or a cold cut with a high percentage of salt, herbs and additives, could you then really know which animal was ground up to make it? You just have to trust the label … right?
So how trusting must we be (well the animal eaters among us that is) to believe and trust that what we put into our mouths and digest is really that which is written on the packaging of our supermarket food?
Or, let’s ask ourselves another question. Do we believe and trust that the food industry is a fair and good employer? Is every individual involved in the different processes of putting the food on our plates treated fairly and equally?
Take two scenarios; one, you go to the supermarket, buy your piece of animal flesh, take it home and fry it or whatever, Two, you drive to a factory farm, choose an animal which you want to eat, load it onto a truck and transport it to a slaughterhouse and you are given twelve seconds in which to kill your chosen animal , fully disembowel it and …… so that you can cut out the piece of flesh which you want to eat. The outcome is the same, Why do we ignore one reality and live the other?
It is indeed modern day slaves and victims of bonded labour who are forced to work in these horrendous places of terror and torture with the ear deafening screams of fear, the stench of blood and excrement, the dangers of injury and infection. In some slaughterhouses 2,500 cattle are killed every day — one every twelve seconds. Which normal person wants to do this kind of job? Only those who are desperate or the few who just absolutely do not care. The most desperate people on this earth who will do anything in order to survive and for their families to survive are people who have lost everything. These people are displaced refugees and the poorest of the poor. So the association with eating todays meat is basically supporting modern slavery and adopting an attitude of indifference — similar to that of an officer in a concentration camp in World war 2.
Unfortunately being able to ignore reality is a human trait.
It is so much easier and more comfortable for most people to simply ignore the truth, to ignore reality even when it stares you right in the eye.
So much easier to just look away and stay in our safe little bubbles of false realities.
So whether it’s about a white slave child, a protestant, a pig, a catholic, a cat, a rabbit, a cow, a jewish woman, a British horse, a Chinese dog, a Native American or a chicken — the lives, deaths and fates of all of these living beings depend on our ability or inability to ignore or accept reality and to look victims in the eye or look away and in doing so, to make our choices and assist in sealing their fates.
Whether you lived 400 years ago, two hundred years ago or today, it always involved less effort to just take the easy path and believe that any bad that goes on in the world is far away, behind closed doors and not our concern!
In 1715 it was legal to enslave, beat, rape, shoot, lynch and kill people of a certain colour. If you tried to do any of these things in 2015 in the US for example, you would have been imprisoned by a dark brown skinned president called Obama.
So what caused the shift that abolished the open form of human slavery but allowed us to accept modern slavery? What made us accept that it is right to choose certain animals to be kept in extremely confined, airless, dark and dirty spaces, to be tortured and then given a horrible death — and to do this on a mass scale — 70 billion animals each year.
Are some beings worth more than others in our minds? Especially when these beings, be it female woman or female cow — are far from sight and distanced from our lives.
Accepting the truth and acting
What leads us to act for some individuals and ignore the fates of others? What is it that makes us understand that other beings are in distress? When we speak the same language then it’s easy, the person says “Please help me, I’m in pain” or “Please help me, I’m being kept here against my will.”
How do you know when your pet is in pain, discomfort, stressed, terrified, sad, hungry, thirsty or confused? If your cat has a bushy tail and it’s ears are turned back and he makes a hissing sound, do you then read that as “I would like to cuddle in your lap?” — well, then good luck!
In order to distance ourselves from the wrongdoers we need to remind ourselves that their victims are very real and that they exist. Even when we cannot see the crimes against them taking place or hear their cries or screams or understand their language our the sounds that they make. Even when these victims have no voice. When we look in the right direction we will see them and we will see their eyes. We will know that they are in distress, that they are pain, that they are afraid for their lives and the lives of their children and that they need help.
When we support the dictators, the slave traders, the rapers, the beaters, the killers by accepting their methods used in order to produce their products and trusting what their labels and marketing concepts say and by buying their products and eating them and using them, we are only supporting their crimes.
Racism, Carnism, Speciesism
Social psychologist and vegan activist Dr. Melanie Jon contrived the word Carnism. A dominant belief system which teaches us how not to think and feel”. For example accepting that it is fine to treat one species of animal with kindness and protect it and do horrible and atrocious things to other animals species.
For example, when will cat and dog lovers in western cultures begin enjoying dog steak or cat burger? — This is surely just a matter of time as long as the food industry continues to be in power. Or would the cat cold slice and the dog patty be ok, as long as it‘s not old Butch or sweet Felina whom you‘re chewing.
A good example of this way of thinking is eating rabbits — which are eaten in many countries and is apparently totally fine for all the rabbit lovers because there is definitely a great difference between a pet rabbit and an eat rabbit.
Similarly, how right is it to accept child labour in our to get the food on your plate but at the same time be so adamant about your child’s rights at school for example.
Out of sight, out of mind
The meat and dairy industry wants to protect itself from any possible intervention and protects itself with laws which enable them to do what they want with the animals and their workers. The meat industry has learned its lessons from history. All slaughter houses, farms and animal farms are in rural areas hidden from public view and the transportation of animals, produce and workers often take place in the dead hours of the night. Like concentration camps, factory farms often have no windows in order to prevent animal rights and human rights activists being able to see and document what is going on inside and to witness the state in which the animals live and the actual state of the animals and how they are treated.
The workers also have no rights and are kept concealed, suppressed and silent. Their situation, their working conditions and the barbarities that they have to do to the animals to ensure their own survival are hardly ever heard.
So the meat industry has the world — has us under control. This industry makes use of our cowardice and ability to ignore the truth and look away. The food industry builds on the assurance that our taste buds and our blind faith will keep us following their trail of crumbs, never questioning, always accepting. With their nicely packaged products, filled with oh, so much goodness and made with happy animals & smiling workers both willing to die for us and our comfortable lives.
The meat and dairy industry knows that it can only get away with murder when “out of sight, out of mind” is in place. Where there is no awareness there is no choice. And with the knowledge that humans build their collective ideologies in order to make each individual more important than the rest.
How long can we look away
And so we are back to the beginning — because thinking that we are better than another races or nationals or religions is racism and thinking that we are better than other species is just another form of racism called Speciesism. And which intelligent, empathetic and compassionate person in this day and age would want to be in the same category and have the same crazy ideologies as mad dictators and slave owners from the past — and present?
Only because you are further removed from the entire process of modern slavery, racism and speciesism, this does not make you less involved. Being a meat eater, a restaurant owner or a shopkeeper only confirms your position at the end of the food chain of terror. This only determines how far and for how long you can look the other way because in the depths of your mind you know that there are the unfortunate ones who deal with all the nasty work and who endure all the pain.
So take a look in the mirror. What do your eyes say? Who are you and what do you support? Especially today, our food choices have such huge impacts on so many levels. Each burger, hot dog, steak, glass of milk or egg that we eat comes from a very dark place. We just don’t see it. We are not allowed to see it and don’t want to see it. But this dark place is very much there and if we accept it, we support it. Each of us has a choice to do what is right and make good choices not bad ones.