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Humanity has the attitude and practical capacity to destroy beings on a vast scale. It makes some people stop to consider their role in the Animal Holocaust and even act against it.
"Their suffering is intense, widespread, expanding, systematic and socially sanctioned. And the victims are unable to organize in defence of their own interests." Henry Spira (1)
What is the Animal Holocaust?
Mass extinction is not the only human scourge on animals; animals live in a continuing holocaust. The Animal Holocaust is the mass destruction of animals by humanity and is a direct comparison with Nazi mass murder, particularly of Jews. The animals most often referred to in the Animal Holocaust are domesticated animals that people raise for food. However, more generally, Animal Holocaust victims include any animals and their populations that humans control, systematically abuse, or destroy, such as fur-farmed animals, laboratory animals and free-living wild animals.
The Animal Holocaust resembles the Nazi perpetrated Holocaust in the use of business-like mass slaughter, mediated by transports (trains), factory farms (concentration camps) and slaughterhouses (death camps). Other pertinent comparisons of animals with human Holocaust victims are performing experiments on animal inmates and turning them into commodities, such as fur (skin goods) and fats (soap). Perhaps the most telling comparison is the contempt for the victims' humane treatment and the widespread disregard for their rights. People today generally do not think of animals as beings who are mutilated, tortured or slain; animals are merely 'animals', there for the purpose of satisfying human needs.
The Animal Holocaust is treated in modern books such as Charles Patterson's Eternal Treblinka
. (2) The book's title comes from a quote attributed to author and Holocaust survivor Isaac Beshevis Singer, "To animals, all people are Nazis. For them it is an eternal Treblinka."
Every week people kill two million pigs in the US and twelve million pigs in China. The human holocaust is over but the animal holocaust is on-going and Man's inhumanity continues. (Pig photo: Max Jackson, Pile o Pigs at flickr.com.)
See Pig & Hog Statistics.
No one knows the true figure of how many animals people kill every year, but to get a glimpse see the entry Animal Statistics
. Staggering totals include the two million pigs killed every week in the United States and the 12 million pigs killed every week in China (3) and the forty billion chickens killed worldwide every year. (4a, 4b) Humanity has killed literally trillions of animals since the Second World War and we are killing them at an accelerating rate as our population increases and the mechanisation of the Animal Holocaust gathers pace. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889 - 1976), disgraced for his membership of the Nazi party, is cited in a 1949 lecture of his as saying: "Agriculture is now a motorized food industry, the same thing in its essence as the production of corpses in the gas chambers and the extermination camps..."
The Holocaust and the animal holocaust are equally real and abhorrent. But comparing them, and thereby getting some people upset, is often a fruitless waste. We must remember the Holocaust, but we can tackle the present and unrelenting animal holocaust without reference to anything else because it is an evil in its own right.
Some animal rights groups juxtapose imagery of the Holocaust and the Animal Holocaust to publicise their campaigns and shock people into admitting the scale and existence of the human abuse of animals. Their message is that animals are not ours to abuse and we must treat them with respect. However, this juxtaposition has angered many people who see it as an inappropriate and corrupting comparison, tasteless and trivialising because of humanity's (assumed unique) moral basis. They say that the Holocaust / Animal Holocaust juxtaposition may gain the cause of animal rights some attention but will lose it support in the long-run. Whether or not you agree, the comparison shows that humanity has the arrogance to destroy beings on a vast scale. It makes some of us stop to consider our role in the slaughter and act against it.
The Most Effective Thing You Can Do
|Here is the Single Most Effective Thing You Can do
for Animal Life
|Stop making babies (or at most make only one).
|Seventy thousand years ago there were 15,000 people on Earth. Now we exceed seven billion. The more people, the greater the destruction to animal life and Nature.
Being a veggie or vegan is an admirable personal commitment but inadequate on a global scale.
|For estimates of the number of food animals people kill annually see the entry: Animal Statistics.
|See more about the World Human Population.
(1) Spira, Henry. Fighting to Win
. In Peter Singer (ed): In Defense of Animals
. Basil Blackwell: New York. 1985:194-208.
(2) Patterson, Charles. Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust
. Lantern Books: New York. 2002.
(3) Live Swine Selected Countries Summary. Production (Pig Crop)
. In Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade
. United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of Global Analysis. Circular Series DL&P 2-07 November 2007. www.fas.usda.gov (accessed February 2008).
(4a) Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade
. United States Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of Global Analysis. Circular Series DL&P 2-07 November 2007. www.fas.usda.gov (accessed February 2008.)
(4b) The World Egg Industry - a few facts and figures
. International Egg Commission (web site accessed February 2008.)
(5) Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe. Heidegger, Art and Politics
. 1990:34. (This quote is sometimes mis-attributed to Heidegger's 1954 essay, The Question Concerning Technology
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