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What William Lloyd Garrison Would Say About Chipotle

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When I think about how aggressively we should confront prejudices within our own movement, I know that I -- like most people -- tend toward compromise. "People don't change immediately," I tell myself. "And these are the good people in a world where so few people care about our cause." 

Then I'm hit with the startling historical example -- and phenomenal statistical success -- of William Lloyd Garrison. I blogged about the Garrison-Lundy debate a few days ago. But one cannot appreciate the intensity of the conflict until one reads Garrison's own words

I should oppose this Society [the ACS], even were its doctrines harmless. It imperatively and effectually seals the lips of a vast number of influential and pious men, who, for fear of giving offence to those slaveholders with whom they associate, and thereby leading to a dissolution of the compact, dare not expose the flagrant enormities of the system of slavery, nor denounce the crime of holding human beings in bondage. They dare not lead to the onset against the forces of tyranny; and if they shrink from the conflict, how shall the victory be won? I do not mean to aver, that, in their sermons, or addresses, or private conversations, they never allude to the subject of slavery; for they do so frequently, or at least every Fourth of July. But my complaint is, that they content themselves with representing slavery as an evil,—a misfortune,—a calamity which has been entailed upon us by former generations,—and not as an individual CRIME, embracing in its folds robbery, cruelty, oppression and piracy.

They do not identify the criminals; they make no direct, pungent, earnest appeal to the consciences of men-stealers; by consenting to walk arm-in-arm with them, they virtually agree to abstain from all offensive remarks, and to aim entirely at the expulsion of the free people of color; their lugubrious exclamations, and solemn animadversions, and reproachful reflections, are altogether indefinite; they 'go about, and about, and all the way round to nothing;' they generalize, they shoot into the air, they do not disturb the repose nor wound the complacency of the sinner; 'they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean.' Thus has free inquiry been suppressed, and a universal fear created, and the tongue of the boldest silenced, and the sleep of death fastened upon the nation. 'Truth has fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter.' The plague is raging with unwonted fatality; but no cordon sanitaire is established—no adequate remedy sought. The tide of moral death is constantly rising and widening; but no efforts are made to stay its desolating career. The fire of God's indignation is kindling against us, and thick darkness covers the heavens, and the hour of retribution is at hand; but we are obstinate in our transgression, we refuse to repent, we impiously throw the burden of our guilt upon our predecessors, we affect resignation to our unfortunate lot, we descant upon the mysterious dispensations of Providence, and we deem ourselves objects of God's compassion rather than of his displeasure!

Were the American Colonization Society bending its energies directly to the immediate abolition of slavery; seeking to enlighten and consolidate public opinion, on this momentous subject; faithfully exposing the awful guilt of the owners of slaves; manfully contending for the bestowal of equal rights upon our free colored population in this their native land; assiduously endeavoring to uproot the prejudices of society; and holding no fellowship with oppressors; my opposition to it would cease. It might continue, without censure, to bestow its charities upon such as spontaneously desire to remove to Africa, whether animated by religious considerations, or the hope of bettering their temporal condition. But, alas! its governing spirit and purpose are of an opposite character.

I've never wanted to be a trouble maker. And yet, Garrison's example shows that there are times when one has to take a strong stand -- even if that means attacking (implicitly or otherwise) those we see as allies. Garrison did not wait for the rest of his movement to "get it." He stood strongly for slave liberation and equality, in the face of a movement that sought to compromise with slaveholders, even when this meant trampling on former friends and allies. 

Garrison's path was not necessarily the best one. And my intuition is that there are better ways to push our movement toward greater confidence, strength, and integrity. Our campaign against Chipotle, for example, pushes a frontier issue -- humane meat -- but our intent is certainly not to attack any other animal rights group. However, maintaining a strong message, without stepping on toes or hurting feelings, is a delicate path. And all we can do is try -- and recognize that the criticism and conflict we fight through is worth it because, in the long run, it will make our movement brighter and stronger. 

Garrison was not afraid to step on toes and lose friends. We have to have that same confidence, even in the face of internal movement criticism, if we are going to match Garrison's astonishing success. 

 

Vegan Outreach: Wrong, but still a Friend

Vegan Outreach: Wrong, but still a Friend

One day before our next action, I am reminded of words I wrote long ago: 

So I witnessed a death two days ago. I am trying my best to get that image out of my mind, but I'm going to write about it here, in the hopes that writing will be a catharsis. An hour or so before I was planning to head out to leaflet, a friend of mine, Dan, who I hadn't seen in many months, called me up and said that he had spotted a stalled transport truck.... with a downed dairy cow inside. He had a camera and was taking pictures, but a large tow truck had arrived, and he was afraid that they might move to another location to "deal" with the problem. I drove out to meet him....

We Must Have Hope

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Beautiful thoughts offered up by DxE's Priya Sawhney.

One of my professors in college once told me, “Guilt is a form of self-indulgence, it doesn’t do anything for what you feel guilty about. It only does something for you.” 

I remember days when I would lock myself in my room and turn on some horrifying video of animals in pain. One in particular tormented me for days—a video of foxes being skinned alive in fur farms. I still remember the eyes of the fox, haunted with madness from being kept in a small space. His frail body looked as though he had already died. 

I remember that night—I stayed up and cried all night and when I did sleep, I would wake up and look outside my window, trying to find a good enough reason to stay alive, with no desire to wake up tomorrow. My thoughts wandered to desolation for the remaining days of my life, and I felt agitated by virtually everyone around me. I would fall asleep to the screams of animals and wake up to their cries. 

I felt so enraged. I felt so angry. I felt so betrayed by the world around me. 

I felt so guilty. I felt such deep sadness. But most of all, I felt so hopeless.

I would seek feelings of guilt and sadness to validate that I was doing my duty for the animals. In fact, that is all I ever did—feel guilty, feel sad, and cry. 

It wasn’t until my professor’s words played in my mind again and again that the thought occurred to me, “I don’t think I’m actually doing anything.”

The fact of the matter is that it is easy to feel guilty and get stuck in a repetitive cycle of sorrow and solitude. It’s not effective for anyone—not for you and especially not for the victims. 

Having an emotional response to emotional subjects is reasonable and can be very powerful and evocative, if that emotion, whether it is sadness or anger, is the source of motivation to take action, to do something, to raise your voice. 

It’s no secret that the Animal Rights Movement is tainted by hopelessness and sorrow, but it doesn't have to be that way. 

We are allowed to have hope, in fact, if we are going to create change, we must have hope. There is no denying that we have compelling reasons to cry over and to feel deeply afflicted by, but if we truly believe in our vision, our community, and our actions, we have many reasons to celebrate over as well. 

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So don’t let the world bring you down, not everyone here is that fucked up and cold. Remember why you came and while you’re alive experience the warmth before you grow old.” The Warmth, Incubus 

 

 

Be Brave

Music video by Sara Bareilles performing Brave: "Let your words be anything but empty." 

Direct Action Everywhere is not an organization. It's not a non-profit. It's not even a campaign. It's a vision. A vision of people from all different walks of life, all different races and nationalities, willing to say what they believe, in their heart of hearts, and say it everywhere our friends are being tormented and killed. Say it everywhere the hateful idea -- that those who are weaker than or different us deserve their nightmarish torments -- has taken hold. Say it everywhere, loud and proud: every animal deserves to be free. 

We all have different personalities and backgrounds, different strengths and weaknesses. But whatever our differences, this movement needs to see all of us be stronger and more hopeful. To be true to ourselves and to our greatest dreams. And, above all, to be brave

Be true to yourself, and the world will follow.  

 

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
I wanna see you be brave

The Ones Who Walk Away

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I was recently re-introduced to a powerful vignette by Ursula Leguin,  "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," It's well worth a read

The people at the door never say anything, but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother's voice, sometimes speaks. "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" They never answer. The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, "eh-haa, eh-haa," and it speaks less and less often. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually. 
They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas.

 

We all know the child is there. And we all must ask ourselves:

- Will I be one of those who accepts the child's terrors as a 'necessary evil'?
- Will I be one of those who tears at my hair, in anguish and guilt, but then looks and walks away?
- Or will I be one of those who decides that it's time.... after 10,000 years of domination and violence... it's time to take a stand?

 

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

 

 

Wise words from DxE LA organizer Kara Kapelnikova:  

This is the life you have chosen.  The feeling of loneliness in a crowded room — of existing separate from the rest — is something that will remain constant.  Seeing life as it really is, rather than the façade you were brought up to not question or look past will haunt you at every turn.   It is a life of conflict, of grief, and often of solitude.
But it is also a life of gratitude, joy and boundless love.  It is a life of honesty and integrity.   It is a life characterized by your unwillingness to turn a blind eye to suffering.  It is a life of purpose beyond the self.

The New Frontier

The New Frontier

Chipotle is one of the largest and fastest-growing restaurant chains in the world. Its market capitalization is over $15 billion. (A single share of the company’s stock, as of today, is a whopping $511.) And in its most recent 3-month quarter, it took in an incredible $827 million (18% growth from the year before), at a time when comparable restaurants are struggling (e.g. Ruby Tuesday’s comparable store sales declined by 11.4%). In the words of the prominent investment report, The Motley Fool, it was a “killer quarter” for Chipotle.

The investing community is right to describe Chipotle as “killer” – but in a decidedly less metaphorical way.

Here is the truth. Chipotle, despite its professed concern for animals, is on a genocidal mass murder spree

This weekend at Chipotle, we had six cities across the country participating in a dramatic and provocative “die-in” against violence. We need many more cities and activists, however, to create the national dialogue that the animals so desperately need. The humane myth can be popped. But only if we come together, in a strong, confident, and uncompromising message for animal liberation.

Hold Tight

Hold Tight

When I hear about an animal liberation, especially of dogs, I can't help but look for my two little girls, and think about the ordeals they have survived. Lisa, who was taken from a dog fighter, is my youngest. When she first came into my home, she had never been outside of a cage. She crawled around fearfully, belly close to the ground, and shrieked in terror at every moving thing that was not a dog (and many non-moving things, such as plants, tables, and umbrellas). 

Stay Inspired

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 People, especially in my family, often ask why I gave up academia, or some other more lucrative and prestigious career path, to do this "animal thing." No one in my family respects it. Neither do my former economics graduate school classmates (many of whom are now professors at distinguished universities) or law school colleagues (almost all of whom told me, "You should stay away from this animal thing. It's not a good path"). 

The answer to their questions, though, is simple: I've been in that place. Cowering in fear as a mob of more powerful men beats your face into the ground. Scared out of your mind that death is nearly upon you, but almost hoping that it will come, so it will finally be over. Even a moment in that place is too much... enough to almost drive one insane with despair. A lifetime of it, even just one lifetime, justifies every sacrifice in the world. 

And while it's sad and terrifying, at times, and endlessly frustrating, at others, a life for animal liberation is a beautiful and meaningful life. The despair that I feel over animal holocaust, is matched only by the hope and joy I feel when I see a world where my animal friends are safe and free. Even just thinking about it brings a trembling of hope up my back, and tears of joy to my eyes. 

And if we accept the lessons of history, it's closer than any one of us thinks. 

I love you all (even my fiercest critics) for being part of that struggle. For taking even a brief glimpse into the mind of an animal suffering under human tyranny. For allowing yourself to feel her pain, and cry her tears. 

Keep fighting the good fight. Find people you believe in, and who believe in you. And, above all, stay inspired. The dream of animal liberation is worth it, and it's within our grasp. 

Two Faces from the Movement

Two Faces from the Movement

Rosemary and Yura are two very different people, with very different backgrounds, who live on different sides of the planet. But they -- and we -- are united in passion for animals. And it is people like Rosemary and Yura who will finally bring our movement down the path to liberation.