Tuesday, February 8, 2011

See No Evil

I recently finished watching the multi-part mini series Band of Brothers that originally aired on HBO -- the true account of Easy Company, perhaps the most storied military unit in the European theater of World War II. One of the most moving segments showed Easy Company moving into a German town that had been held by German forces who fled upon the Americans' arrival. In doing reconnaissance outside the town a squad of Easy Company soldiers came upon the shocking site of a concentration camp filled with dead and near-dead Jews, gypsies, and others. The American soldiers were shocked beyond speaking at the level of cruelty and barbarity they encountered. They had heard rumors of Germans rounding up "undesirables," but had not witnessed it first hand. And the German citizens in the town had turned a blind eye and done nothing (though they likely could have done nothing in the face of Nazi force). Easy company commanders forced every citizen in the town, 14 years of age and older, to go to the camp to bury the mounds of dead, help the survivors, and witness what their nation's government had sanctioned -- while the American troops began providing what food and medical attention they could. The segment was a grisly reminder of how it is possible for evil to be taking place in the midst of seemingly civilized and caring people -- or at least far enough away for most to be able to turn a blind eye.

In the modern animal rights movement, animals are often compared to those the Nazis deemed undesirable in the Holocaust. Ten billion animals are killed each year (in the U.S.; 60 billion worldwide, according to Kathy Freston, author of Veganist) at the whim of human beings who are stronger than the animals and who have the sanction of government and the majority of the population. Many in the population turn a blind eye and participate in the commercial raising and killing of animals because they like the taste of meat. That is their choice, of course. But I still believe many continue to support the commercial meat industry without knowing "what's going on just outside of town." Just as the Nazis put their concentration camps in out-of-the-way settings so as to hide what they were doing, so commercial meat farmers raise and slaughter animals behind close doors -- literally. The public is not invited and you will be turned away if your local organization wants to tour a commercial animal factory farm. That fact alone suggests the owners are not altogether proud of what they do.

Many courageous souls in Europe during the early days of Nazi rule -- Christians primarily, but others as well -- took an active role in fighting the atrocity of genocide. People like German pastor-scholar Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood publicly against Adolf Hitler, and the ten Boom family in Holland hid Jews in their home when the Nazis began their purges. Bonhoeffer was hanged and the ten Boom family was found out and shipped to concentration camps where all but Corrie ten Boom died. They knew the cost before acting but did so anyway.

So today, activists of various kinds are doing what they can to expose the brutalization of animals raised for human consumption. And that includes some who go into the factories to film undercover videos and make them available to the public. Others, like Mercy for Animals, compile those videos and make them available to a broad audience; to all who are willing to look truth in the face and ask what part, if any, they are playing in supporting such a system.

Mercy for Animals has just released a new 12-minute video, Farm to Fridge, revealing what goes on behind the closed doors of some factory farms. The production values are excellent -- this is not just a collection of random, gruesome videos. But it is gruesome. Why? Because this isn't CGI footage compiled out of the imagination of an animator in Hollywood. This is video of what is happening today in factory farms in America. I encourage you to watch it -- and then do what you can not to support such a system. This will stop as soon as people stop voting with their dollars at the grocery store. And it will continue as long as people choose to see no evil.

1 comment:

  1. Is that real? I just don't understand why people allow that to happen.