The hypocrisy of the left
There is one issue that has been weighing heavily on my mind: the double standard of the political left. I thought that those who define themselves as liberal, or progressive, deeply believe in social justice, reject prejudice and exploitation, and support the most vulnerable and defenseless. However, as my eyes opened to our oppression of non-human animals, it became clear that this is not the case. Most of those who call for justice, equality and fairness, and the rejection of oppression, ironically participate and contribute to the largest, most brutal repression, just like so many other people. For the majority of leftists, conviction stops when convenience starts.
It has been easy for me to be on the political left. Most people I know support and agree with my views on human social justice matters. However, I had a rude awakening once I started learning and understanding the enormous exploitation and killing of non-human animals in our daily lives, and when I voiced my opinions about it. I thought that those who profess to be sensitive to suffering and oppose violence would be enraged at the atrocities committed for example, in the meat, dairy and egg industries. Instead I found myself being ignored, argued against, or ridiculed. I was stunned; where is the empathy, the outrage at violence and cruelty? And since when is being upset about real injustices and showing compassion, off limits for liberals?
Only a few showed interest, or empathy for the victims, and even fewer made changes in their lives so as not to take part in the torture and killing of animals. I’m so grateful to those few. Every transformation starts with recognition and awareness, it’s an evolving process. Due to their insight and compassion countless animals will be spared from misery.
But it’s not only my personal experience; the vast majority of liberals do not include non-human animals in their political agenda, and worse, they actively take part in the injustices. There is a glaring disconnect between their values, and the appalling reality of the inhuman treatment of animals in their lives. For instance, preaching against police brutality and supporting gun control, but paying for brutally raised and killed sentient creatures, such as chickens. Feminists (“my body my choice”) who consume not only meat but dairy, the product of the most horrific female abuse that ever existed, in which cows are repeatedly being raped to keep them lactating (cows are artificially and forcibly inseminated year after year). Or those who are against solitary confinement and long prison sentences, but are fine with the captivity of innocent creatures in zoos.
This life style that benefits from extreme oppression, the indifference to suffering, the lack of compassion, all opened my eyes. I have to say, I no longer feel a natural alliance with the left. Its political goals are intended to benefit us personally, our families and friends, and the society we live in. They do not seem to stem from deep understanding of the values they claim to uphold. Moreover, the fact that support for animals grows on the right, shows that the left has no monopoly on compassion and empathy.
Animal rights, is the idea that non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives and to be free from exploitation. It’s a social justice issue, in the spirit of progressive liberalism. It’s morally unacceptable to oppose it; why should humans demand justice only for themselves but not grant it to other sentient beings? Animals feel pain, fear and love, they think and care; their lives and families belong to them.
We are blind to the animals, their lives and families, and as all other oppressors we objectify them as though they are commodities; brutally kill them for “food”, use horrendous methods to obtain their fur and wool for clothing, abduct them from their families, confine and induce pain and fear in zoos and circuses, for “entertainment”, and torture them in laboratories.
There are many similarities to past oppressions, such as slavery. Back then the norm was also to exploit and objectify those who were considered inferior, for the benefit of the ones who felt superior. Then as today, fighting the unjust social norm wasn’t popular, and much like today it was a minority which rejected the abuse, protested and fought it. And as much as our generation is appalled by slavery, so will future generations be horrified and disgusted by our evil and barbarity towards our fellow non-human animals.
The arbitrary sense of superiority has always been the driving force behind oppression. Nowadays, even the liberals who claim they oppose prejudice, discrimination and racism, believe they are superior to others and that gives them the right to selfishly enslave and exploit non-human animals. As always, the privileged and most powerful take advantage of their victims whom they consider inferior, the weak and voiceless who cannot fight back.
Putting an end to animal oppression is not only against the current status quo, it also requires a shift in lifestyle and abandoning one’s own repression and discrimination. It demands giving up our domination over fellow earthlings and all the products of exploitation that come with that. From their flesh and milk, fur and wool, to cosmetics and cleaning solutions tested on their burning eyes and skin, to their broken spirits in zoos and circuses.
For now, those and other forms of animal exploitation are prevalent, and most leftists do not even think about it. It’s almost as if they say, we believe in values only when those benefit us, our society and our own species. We are outraged and judgmental only when it’s someone else who we think is wrong, the conservatives, the religious right, etc. But when it comes to our own injustices, discrimination and violence, we are not going to stop; we are superior and entitled. That is the hypocrisy of the left.
Defending the other, the one who is different from us, who is weaker and powerless, is what all progressive liberals must stand for. There should be no qualms about it. We have no right to torture any creature for any reason. If you haven’t contemplated your accountability for the mistreatment of sentient beings, then your declared principles do not mean a thing, and the moral stain will be forever.
I implore you, please open your eyes to the plight of your non-human victims, cease using them as objects and property, and treat all living souls with respect and dignity. You can start today.
If you permit this evil, what is the good of the good of your life? —Stanley Kunitz