United Poultry Concerns May 15, 2002
Letter: Comparing animal slaughter to Holocaust victims is fair
May 15, 2002
Mountain Xpress News / Asheville, NC

Comparing animal slaughter to Holocaust victims is fair

Jane Carter's letter [May 1] took Kayla Worden to task for her letter referring to animals being slaughtered while fully conscious (a common slaughterhouse occurrence) as modern-day holocaust victims. Ms. Carter asks that we watch a few interviews with survivors of the Holocaust, and then see if we "can compare the Holocaust to the plight of cramped chickens."

Believe me, Ms. Carter, I have not only seen interviews, I have lived among the survivors. As a Jew growing up in Chicago shortly after World War II, I had friends whose parents survived the death camps. Most memorable was my best friend's mother - a woman with only one arm, a woman I never once remember smiling. Her other arm was apparently torn off in a tug of war by some drunken Nazi soldiers. But that was just the best guess gleaned from questions that mostly went unanswered; no one wanted to talk much about the atrocities. The memories were too fresh. People just wanted to put [the experiences] behind them, work hard, and dream of a better life for their children and for the family members that survived. Rarely was there a reference to the Nazis. The one exception I vividly remember was my grandmother spitting at my first Volkswagen Bug. She never would step inside that car.

Between five and six million Jews (and millions of non-Jews) were killed by the Nazis. This was an egregious injustice, to say the least. More than 10 billion animals raised for food will lose their lives this year in America alone. They will suffer horrific mutilations and indignities from the day they are born until their throats are slit. Isn't it counterproductive to waste time deciding who suffers more, which crime is greater?

It is exactly this attitude - that some lives are more important than others - that perpetuates most injustices. Violence is violence, whether inflicted on a human or non-human animal. It is just plain common sense that if you truly believe in justice, you cannot treat animals unjustly simply because they are unable to defend themselves. If you work for social justice, I commend you and urge you to continue the fight. But try as you might, it is often difficult to influence world events. The one place you can have a positive, life-affirming effect every day is at the dinner table. Becoming a vegetarian - or better yet, a vegan - is an easy way to immediately reduce the suffering in the world.

For an enlightening discussion of the comparisons between animal exploitation in the United States and Hitler's Final Solution, I recommend reading Dr. Charles Patterson's recently published book, Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust. The title of the book comes from a quote by Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, to whom the book is dedicated. Mr. Singer said, "In relation to them, all people are Nazis: for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka."

When Ms. Worden refers to the suffering of animals as a holocaust, she is in good company.

- Stewart David

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(Letter: Comparing animal slaughter to Holocaust victims is fair)

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