Animal Rights: Remedy to Trumpism

Animal Rights: Remedy to Trumpism

By David Cantor

The Trump presidency is proving as destructive, troubling, and demoralizing as anticipated by anyone respectful of the Constitution, of human beings and other animals, and of the living world.  Increasing animal abuse is the overarching trend: intensifying injustice and assaults on human beings, reversing constraints on our species’ destruction of the living world (the Biocaust), and reinvigorating the animal-abuse and disease-spreading industries driving climate breakdown, toxic pollution, and other sources of misery.

So the needed response is not just protesting and resisting Trump, voting for candidates who oppose Trumpism, and urging people to act “humanely” at the personal level.  Our opposition must advance the total paradigm shift needed to reduce animal abuse by undermining the full range of animal-abuse policy, culture, and practice.  One easy thing to do: Read and share with your officials and potential candidates Responsible Policies for Animals’ two-page political background paper “Governing for Life: How Officials Can End Animal-Abuse Policy, Annihilation of Nature, and Resulting Human Misery by Upholding the Constitution and Its Stated Values.”

Animal abuse has never been reduced in more than 50,000 years.  The Animal-Abuse Revolution generated, thousands of years ago, tyrannical governance such as the American Revolution has only begun to eradicate.  That ongoing Enlightenment-, justice-, and equality-based Revolution is widely faltering due to infiltration and cooptation by consumer-capitalism, its global mind-management endeavor (public relations), and the ascendance of the weapons industry.  Ubiquitous access to powerful weapons enables dangerous human enemies to appear the most pressing problem.  But the Animal-Abuse Revolution is the root of weapons manufacturing as well as most human misery.

Regulation of capitalism irks the most aggressively dominant, the greediest, and the most conscience-challenged tycoons even while many of their peers accept or even praise it.  Deregulation, the centerpiece so-called 2017 “accomplishments” the Trump administration boasts of, sounds abstract and legalistic.  But it means removing the already-mild restraints on what nonfeeling, amoral, nonliving corporations and industries and their dependents can do to human beings and other animals.

The primary endeavor of the radical right is to permanently free capitalism from democracy – as Nancy MacLean puts it in Democracy in Chains.  So the people won’t be able to decide what corporations and industries can do to the living world, including “us” and Earth’s other beings.  As Joel Kovel shows in The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World, capitalism is primarily a war on the living world.  Trump brazenly bullies the human world toward tyranny to overcome human self-interest, our innate affinity for nonhuman animals and the living world (biophilia), and the values stated in the Constitution: liberty, justice equality, defense, tranquility, and the general welfare.

A problem with treating even the best Democratic candidates and their platforms as the solution to the Trumpian project is that the Democratic Party, too, is an engine of capitalism and the Biocaust.  It’s not just that Democratic candidates and officeholders, too, receive donations from big money; it’s that they accept the basic humanist-extremist premises that only human beings are innately entitled to a chance at a fulfilling life; our pursuit of fulfillment needn’t take other beings’ experience or ecological value into account; our species’ population explosion, its rampage over Earth, and its impacts on other animals and the living world are self-justified; and dividing “the pie” among humans is their only responsibility.  Democrats need coaching such as RPA’s above-mentioned background paper provides.

The first Earth Day, in 1970, taught us that our species must reduce its “footprint.”  Since then, both major parties have failed to lead humanity toward the needed change, succumbing with little resistance to capitalism’s war on the environmental movement and animal advocacy – as Sharon Beder shows in Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism.

Many Democrats rail against the gross inequality among humans that steadily grows, undermines democracy, increases human misery, and generates protest and rebellion.  But none publicly acknowledges that animal abuse in its full scope, dating back more than 50,000 years – all that humans do to each other, and to and with other animals and their natural homes – is the root of the pre-Constitutional tyranny Trump labors to restore and the misery from war, disease, poverty, and demagoguery which the Constitution enables us to overcome if we exercise vigilance and perpetually and fully exercise our rights as policymaking citizens.

Creating needed lasting change entails thinking independently, not following politicians’ framing of the agenda, their public-relations campaigns, or the news industry’s reflexive rehashing of them.  We must assess policy through experience and books, educating our representatives and candidates.  Most politicians, though well-meaning, are not particularly well educated or informed beyond conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is generated by an industry-government-university-media complex in service to humanist extremism that omits other animals’ interests and thus the living world we all depend on, which unfortunately rapidly collapsing.

With three plant or animal species going extinct per hour, human health and wellbeing steadily worsening, violence and transportation and infrastructure disasters frighteningly constant and ubiquitous, sea levels rising, hurricanes and wildfires intensifying, ocean life nearly gone, and human industry abusing all animals on Earth, including humans – obviously a new paradigm is needed.  Tweaking the old one won’t work.  In his 2017 manual On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder urges us to avoid screen-based media versions of reality, informing ourselves through books in order to assess the validity of what special interests and opinion-mongers foist on us electronically.

As long as only human beings are deemed persons – beings worthy of respect, equal treatment, and a chance at fulfillment – they will continue to suffer needlessly along with all of Earth’s other animals.  Because the abuse humans rationalize inflicting on nonhuman animals by denying their personhood and their worthiness of consideration generates nearly all human misery.  That counterintuitive reality is explained in many items at this website.  But how do we get the public and its officials to act based on reality?  I’ve spent my three decades as a full-time animal advocate – when I wasn’t investigating and protesting atrocities and being arrested for civil disobedience – learning the origins, causes, and nature of animal-abuse policy, culture, and practice and implementing campaigns to strike at their roots.  Results and recommendations for action pervade this website.

Passionate, dedicated, and skillful pursuit of solutions to superficial problems without addressing roots of the problems describes most animal, environmental, public-health, and vegetarian advocacy of recent decades.  Good work that doesn’t address root causes explains why misery and threats to life itself continue increasing and intensifying: The roots continue generating the problems we wish to solve; they keep reappearing the way grass grows tall after mowing.  Responsible Policies for Animals’ website, literature, and lectures focus the roots of the big problems Trump intensifies but by no means causes.  RPA’s campaigns ask us to act with long-term persistence rather than briefly express ourselves and lament the lack of results.

In 2018, make the vision of equal rights of all animals the basis of your mainstream political activities.  I’m glad to assist you.  By educating authorities, we not only can undermine Trump’s effort to intensify the Biocaust; we can put our species on the new trajectory all living beings desperately need us to embrace.

Posted in Animal Rights

2 comments on “Animal Rights: Remedy to Trumpism
  1. Marcia Mueller says:

    Rights come before abolition of rights-violating practices, not after.” Rights of All Animals. David Cantor

    “Our opposition must advance the total paradigm shift needed to reduce animal abuse by undermining the full range of animal-abusing policy, culture, and practice.” Animal Rights: The Remedy to Trumpism. David Cantor

    “The Democratic Party is an engine of capitalism and the Biocaust.” Animal Rights: The Remedy to Trumpism. David Cantor

    Cantor’s excellent post and the Responsible Policy for Animals organization assert that the current paradigm of fighting animal abuse through welfare reform and promoting compassion and veganism needs to shift to a new paradigm of animal rights. That paradigm would give animals a “personhood status” that no longer keeps them subservient to human needs and give them freedom from property status, exploitation, and abuse.

    But will conferring personhood on animals really give them the status and protection they need? Or will the success of their rights depend on how willing governing organizations and institutions are to enforce those rights and punish infractions?

    Looking at the slaughter industry, where animals undergo much of their greatest suffering and in the highest numbers, we see that human beings, who do have rights by law, often lose those rights in the workplace. Big Ag’s slaughter industry is an arena where laws and regulations are often ignored for both animals and people.

    An example is the failure of the humane slaughter laws that are seldom enforced. Most cruelty goes unpunished and unnoticed because there are few inspections, and the facilities are now carefully guarded from view. Much of what we know comes from undercover investigations, which are under threat by at ag-gag laws.

    The Humane Slaughter Act was passed in 1958 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). It was enacted to make the killing of food animals a humane process.

    According to the law, the slaughter itself is supposed to involve totally unconscious and unresponsive animals. Workers are to be fully trained to achieve that status by using (1) carbon dioxide; (2) mechanical captive bolt gun; (3) mechanical gunshot; (4) electrical current. Any ineffective or failed stunning attempt that causes the animal pain or agitation is considered an “egregious inhumane event,” with worker suspension or NOIE (Notice of Intended Enforcement) sent to the facility.
    (Animals unfortunate enough to be sent to ritual slaughter houses do not the protection of the Humane Slaughter Law, and they are fully conscious when their throats are slit, side-to-side.)

    Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) are supposed to conduct Humane Activity Tracking (HAT) inspections. They include checking transport rules, which demand that animals cannot be transported more than 28 hours without food, water, and rest. If animals look exhausted or dehydrated on arrival at the slaughter facility, drivers and managers are questioned about compliance. If they do not answer satisfactorily, IPP should call the local Animal and Plant Inspection Service APHIS veterinarian.

    Slaughterhouse workers are supposed to unload animals in safe conditions, not push them past walking speed, not shove injured animals with machines, or put injured animals with healthy animals. Prods of more than 50 volts are not permitted, nor are bats, shovels, sharp prods, whips, etc., to move animals. There are many more rules and restrictions in the code.

    So, has the Humane Slaughter Act delivered its promise to make the slaughter process easier for the animals?

    Not according to undercover investigations, YouTube videos, and reports from observers, and the workers themselves.

    Gail Eisnitz, working for the humane Farming Association, recalls how the cows were killed at a large Tyson plant in Washington State. Some of the employees signed affidavits describing how for decades they had been pushed to cut up hundreds of fully conscious cows. According to the affidavit, “workers open the hides on the legs, the stomach, the neck; they cut off the feet while the cow is breathing. It makes noise. It’s looking around. . . . Their eyes look like they are popping out. Sometimes they have all the skin out and they’re all peeled. Sometimes you can tell they’re alive because when you look at their eyes, you can see the tears of a cow.

    The fate of pigs is no better. The slaughter lines have increased in speed. One of the largest slaughterhouses in the world, here in America, kills 32,000 pigs a day. Some of the animals end up being pushed alive into the scalding water tanks to drown or burn to death, whichever comes first. (There is an online video of a pig in a tank swimming frantically.)

    The ones who don’t move fast enough are hit with pipes, resulting in broken backs and other injuries. Gail Eisnitz recounts the description by one worker who would prod the pigs to the kill floor. If the pigs did not move fast enough, often because they were injured, he would ram the prod into the pig’s eye and hold it there in frustration and rage. One informant described cutting animals’ eyes out with the knife and putting salt in the socket.
    Another worker describes one manner of dealing with injured pigs at Morrell’s: “The preferred method of handling a cripple at Morrell’s is to beat him to death with a lead pipe before he gets to the chute.”

    Unfortunately, birds are not covered by the Humane Slaughter Act, and undercover investigations have discovered horrendous abuse in their slaughter facilities. According to Mercy For Animals, the slaughter rate attempt to kill 140 chickens a minute. Investigators tell of the birds rushed through so fast that many of the unfortunates die in the scalding tank rather than on the line, where they are supposed to be rendered unconscious by electrical current.

    Obviously the Humane Slaughter Act has not served its purpose because of loopholes, noncompliance, and lax enforcement.
    While a trip to the slaughterhouse is hell for the animals, a job there is not much better for the workers.

    Through the 1980s, Big Ag’s slaughter plants were often moved from urban areas to small rural communities in right-to-work states, which helped break the tradition of a unionized workforce.

    The new facilities contained more mechanized equipment, including hydraulic saws, industrial blenders, marinade pumps, steel hooks, metal chains, and conveyor belts. The mechanization meant that lower-skilled workers could be hired, but the facilities often skimped on training. One worker asked for help and was told, “Just do what the next person is doing.”

    Emphasis was placed on an increasingly fast pace. That meant more accidents and more injuries. In spite of the speed, wages were low, and the work was turned into another job that Americans no longer wanted to do.

    As the slaughter industry sought to reduce employee turnover without raising pay, they increasingly turned to immigrant workers. They began hiring more Hispanics and then later added more from Somalia and Asia. Tyson’s was even indicted for a plan to smuggle illegal workers in from Mexico. Most of the immigrant workers are undocumented, leaving them at risk for deportation if they are noncompliant, if they seek to report work injuries or if they attempt to unionize.

    Workers in this industry have a high rate of injury and suffer amputations of legs, arms, hands, and fingers. One worker was asphyxiated when he was told to just climb onto an industrial mixer when a ladder was not available. His shirt got caught in a conveyer belt, and he was dragged under the machine and asphyxiated; one worker was electrocuted; one was scalded to death by a burst steam pipe; and another was crushed by a block of ice.

    Repetitive stress injuries are commonplace, but workers are encouraged not to seek help or report their problems. One worker went to the nurse’s station 90 times before finally being sent to a doctor. Some, because of language barriers, are not aware of their rights, and others are threatened with being fired or deported if they get become injured and cannot work.

    OSHA apparently does not have any control over the pace of the work, is understaffed when it comes to inspections, and facilities are often warned when OSHA is coming. In that case, the assembly line is slowed down, and more workers are added, and the worst offenses are hidden.

    Thus, when government agencies fail to enforce laws and regulations, they pass control to the corporations and allow them to make the rules and evade the law.

    So Big Ag’s slaughter industry is an ugly mix of cruelty, greed, and the flouting of regulations and laws. The millions of animals entering the slaughterhouses face horrific suffering and death. The nearly 500,000 or so people who work in the slaughterhouses face harsh work conditions, intimidation, and occupational injuries.

    Getting information is getting increasingly difficult: “When Big Agriculture gets into hot water, it rarely apologizes or make amends. Instead, its go-to solution has been to cut off the public’s ability to discover the truth and learn more about the industry’s immoral behavior.” (Big Ag Bullies and Lobbies to Keep Americans in the Dark, (Food & Agriculture, May 5, 2016). The USDA also removed FOIA statistics from its website.

    Animal rights activists and organizations have been fighting Big Ag and the slaughter industry with undercover investigations, protests, petitions, and public education. They demand punishment for workers who brutalize the animal and supervisors who do not stop it. However, legally animals are property. They have no rights of personhood in the constitution. They are just the commodities that are turned into products and profits.

    However, people do have rights that are not being recognized by the slaughter industry. Undocumented immigrants, who can be intimidated, are hired and given inadequate training. They are threatened with deportation if they try to unionize. They are pushed to keep up a production process that harms both animals and themselves. Safety rules are lax and OSHA complaints are underreported.

    So, where are the defenders of human rights? Where are the Democrats, those social justice warriors who purport to be champions of the downtrodden and the powerless? Why the silence?

    The lesson of all this is that both human rights and animal suffering can be ignored by Big Ag and the slaughter industry with their army of lobbyists, their minions in Congress, and with both political parties needing handouts at election time. The real problem is a corporate world out of control or too big to fight.

    And it all begs this question: Under capitalism, which will be more difficult—gaining rights for animals or enforcing them?

    Eisnitz, Gail A. Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, (Prometheus Books, 2007).
    Marcus, Eric. Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, & Money, (Brio Books, Boston, Massachusetts, 1996).
    Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (First Mariner Books, 2012).

    • David Cantor says:

      I appreciate Marcia Mueller’s thoughtful and concerned comment. Having advocated for nonhuman animals full-time going on three decades, I’m beyond familiar with the failure of animal-welfare laws to provide anything resembling meaningful the protection from human tyranny, injustice, abuse, and cruelty. The oxymoronically named Humane Methods of Slaughter Act is one of countless examples. At slaughter, nonhuman animals very often end lives of chronic misery, which have never afforded them a chance at a fulfilling life, in agonizing pain. Nor do I know of any prohibition against any form of cruelty or other abuse which has reduced that form of abuse. The animal-welfare regime perpetuates an illusion of protection that obscures the need for equal rights of all animals like humans have under the Constitution. No rights, no meaningful protection – for humans or for other animals. That doesn’t mean rights protect magically, and Responsible Policies for Animals makes no claim that they do.

      Rights are of course violated. But violations of worker-protection laws and regulations are not the same as violations of basic rights to liberty, free speech, due process, property, and others that do more to eliminate and prevent tyranny than anything else in the thousands of years of human tyranny that are rooted in the Animal-Abuse Revolution starting with humans’ organizing kill their natural predators with manufactured weapons.

      Nor are Democrats responsible for enforcing human beings’ rights under the Constitution. Political parties are not established in the Constitution. Branches of government are responsible for enforcing our rights depending on each type of right and each type of rights violation. Ensuring that they do requires constant vigilance – it doesn’t happen just because rights exist. The American Civil Liberties Union and other nonprofit organizations provide some of that vigilance, along with citizens in all walks of life.

      Responsible Policies for Animals does not promote a simplistic scenario where nonhuman-animal personhood is suddenly declared by a court or a law one day, this event establishes rights of nonhuman animals, and then all of Earth’s nonhuman animals’ rights are either enforced or not. RPA teaches, and urges all of our institutions to teach (for example, through RPA’s Campaign K-12, 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign, and Elephant in the Newsroom campaign), the fundamental shift in perception and understanding of human beings and nonhuman animals by which humans learn to look at a mouse, a snake, a wolf, a fish, or an elephant and see a person rather than a thing or a being that is not a person – and through this perception and understanding grasps that humans are not more entitled than they are to a chance at a fulfilling life according to their biological nature.

      In this vision, humans – particularly enlightened ones, influential ones, those entrusted with establishing and enforcing policy, and through them a critical mass of the rest of us – stop denying all beings’ innate equality and stop believing and living by humanist-extremist and speciesist delusions inculcated over thousands of years through animal-abuse policy, culture, and practice, the rationalization they require to persist, special interests dependent on animal abuse economically, and today the industry-government-university-media complex (IGUM). RPA’s vision reflect the way equal rights of new groups of persons become established, implemented and enforced – it is not an exhortation to humane treatment, “caring,” compassion, conscientious shopping choices or other personal traits often confused with “animal rights.”

      RPA’s Draft Bill of Animal Rights, available at this website, outlines the specific rights that can be established in the Constitution once a significant portion of the public grasps all animals’ innate equality and personhood; how much human beings and other animals suffer from animal abuse and from nonhuman animals’ not having rights; and how little chance humans have at a brighter future with less disease, poverty, war, pollution, climate breakdown, eliminationism, food and water shortages, misogyny, racism, and anti-Semitism without equal protection of nonhuman animals and their natural homes.

      The main problem with RPA’s vision and strategy is not that equal rights of all animals will not be enforced once they’re established – it’s that they’re extremely far off, the animal-advocacy machine is not promoting them, “animal rights” is widely used for organizations and activities unrelated to promoting or establishing any rights, and all of our institutions promote human entitlement, human supremacy, consumer-capitalism (a major factor in animal-abuse culture), and subjugation of nonhuman animals. The plight of nonhuman animals is worsening rapidly, and the lack of a true animal-rights movement (except the new wave of the animal-rights movement RPA has only begun) ensures that causes of animal abuse will continue to go unaddressed as only symptoms are addressed by the first wave of the “animal rights movement” and by abolitionism, veganism, and the animal-welfare regime.

      I encourage all of my readers to explore this website thoroughly in order to gain a thorough understanding of what RPA promotes – and why long-term persistence is necessary to prevail or even make discernible progress. Also, I will appreciate knowing of any interest in a conference on animal rights strictly defined as equal rights of all animals such as only human beings currently have under the Constitution. I am drafting a prospectus for one.

      Thank you, Marcia, for your deep concern for the animals’ plight and for the plight of human beings oppressed by animal-abuse culture and other factors.

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