Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Welcome to the Slaughterhouse: The vegetarian conservative

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." George Washington

Welcome to the Slaughterhouse, America!!

By Nicholas Meyeres

Recently a fugitive animal rights activist charged with bombing two California offices made news headlines. 31-year old Daniel Andreas San Diego of Berkeley, California became the first domestic terrorist named to the FBI's list of "Most Wanted" terror suspects.

Law enforcement officials and Homeland Security describe San Diego as a strict vegan who possesses a 9mm handgun. On his abdomen, he has tattooed images of burning and collapsing buildings- most likely representing his extremist outlook and personality to do harm to others.

Which prompts the question: Is there a common personality type amongst vegetarians and vegans, or animal activists in general; and are they all radicals with an agenda of terrorism toward those who disagree with them? Do they all engage in an odd lifestyle through means of their choice in diet, and unnatural love of animals?

For that matter, the same sort of extremism can be said of right-wing conservatives according to Janet Napolitano, United States Secretary of Homeland Security when she issued a newly unclassified Department of Homeland Security report warning against the possibility of violence by unnamed “right-wing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, abortion and the loss of U.S. sovereignty and singles out returning war veterans as particular threats, according to a report in WorldNetDaily.

And thus, the move to add a domestic, left-wing terrorist to the list comes only days after the Obama administration was criticized for this report suggesting some military veterans could also be susceptible to right-wing extremist recruiters or commit lone acts of violence. This prompted angry reactions from some lawmakers and veterans groups and perhaps even aided in the addition of San Diego to the list to begin with.

And this got me thinking about the common perception that vegetarians are all tree-hugging, limp-wristed, granola-munching, pot-smoking hippies, which obviously isn’t the case at all. There are common personality patterns, to be sure, but not all stereo-types are accurate. Case in point: Daniel Andreas San Diego.

So, because of San Diego, do all vegetarians have alternative and/or terrorist leanings? After all, Hitler was a vegetarian… so, does that mean all vegetarians are predisposed to support fascist dictatorships? Do all Conservatives have terrorist leanings for that matter because of the warning sent out by Homeland Security? Are all vegans or animal activists liberals? Are all republicans hunters who bomb abortion clinics?

Take this example; liberals typically do not endorse the Second Amendment as heartily as republicans do, but didn't San Diego own a 9mm?

I will say this much: Sure, the largest majority of folks on both sides are in fact in keeping to their respective stereotypes, but not all of them are. Some flat out defy the gravity and seeming logic of their individual Party's platforms in order to become their own person. Some people simply vote their conscience regardless of duty to Party.

When you think of vegetarians and animal rights, most people automatically think of the political left which is usually associated with animal activism, legislation and environmentalism. But, this is not entirely justified. On the conservative front you can just as easily find animal advocates (though, perhaps not as many). One such a conservative vegetarian is Matthew Scully.

Active in the political right, he was a speechwriter in the elections of 2000 and served as a speechwriter and special assistant for George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. Should he be on the list of potential terrorists for his beliefs, as well? After all, he is not only an animal welfare advocate, but he is a republican associated with the dreaded George W. Bush! He should be on BOTH lists!!!

Since the 1970's Scully has been a vegetarian ever since he saw the awful pictures and images of animals suffering in the modern day animal factories. From that day forward, he decided to go meatless.

As author of the highly acclaimed book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy" he draws the attention of the public eye to the fate of the billions of animals suffering and dying daily. The reviews of his work were very positive and rightly so. The National Review described Dominion as "A fascinating and disturbing read." I can't do anything else but agree. He hits the nail on the head in his books and in the articles on his own homesite. Written from a conservative viewpoint, it shows that you don't have to be "progressive" to be animal friendly.

"But, Nicholas," you ask, "how can one be a conservative AND a vegetarian? Isn't vegetarianism incompatible with the hunting, environment rampaging image that any good conservative not only embraces, but proclaims proudly?"

Bottom line, hunting is and has been on the decline for many years now. The number of people who have hunted in prior years is far greater than it is today. Latent or inactive hunters are people who consider themselves hunters but who have not hunted in the past several years for all sorts of different reasons. Approximately 23 million people have hunted within the last five years according to the Southwick Associates back in 2003.

But back in 2001 the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows that there are 43.7 million people in the United States who have hunted at one time in their life. That's a MAJOR decline in just a few short years, and it continues to decline today. So, hunting isn't the issue at all.

In fact, for me it is a much more complicated series of issues. I am indeed a vegetarian of nearly 18 years (much more than half of my entire life) and also a proud conservative. I don't hunt, but I am very much in favor of the right to bear arms and own guns. Not because I use them on a regular basis (in fact I have NEVER used them); I simply believe in our Second Amendment right to own them- not for the sport of hunting, but because our Founding Fathers knew a time would come when we would need them for the purpose of our welfare and protection as an entire people.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves from tyranny in government."

Our collective hope is that that day will never come, but from the standpoint of our own history, our Framers felt the need to fight back the tyranny of the British Empire for their very own freedoms. So, it should go without saying that they would ensure that right to all Americans for the same purpose if it should ever come to that. After all, the Second Amendment says nothing whatsoever about our right to bear arms being for the purpose of hunting.

Which brings me to another conservative tenant: the Pro-Life movement.

The Pro-Life movement is a tricky one for many folks to wrap their minds around fully. It is a loaded term that can catch you in a multitude of personal hypocrisies that are nearly impossible to get out of if you let it. For instance, traditionally, if you are 'Pro-Life', you are likely also for the Death Penalty. Or if you are for abortion, you are against owning guns, and also predominately against war. I myself am 'Pro-Life' all the way across the board.

I am against abortion AND against capital punishment; I think war is a last option at best and should be for the purpose of the defense of our country and not for preemptive reasons; I am a vegetarian, I don't hunt, and I strongly support animal welfare issues on both sides of the political spectrum.

It may look like my views are all over the place, but it makes sense to me. I don't just support unborn fetal life, or inmates' lives-- I support ALL life! That is why I can truly call myself Pro-Life and keep my complete dignity and conviction in tact when I say it out loud to others.

Another closely held belief in the Republican Party is that of personal responsibility. And what better way to express that ideal than to not kill when it is not even necessary in the first place. If hunting is a sport, then it isn't urgent for our survival. It is not necessary. Even the Christian Bible speaks to this.

The Bible says in Genesis that we have dominion over the animals, not domination. We were not put on this Earth to control them, or subjugate them, or filet them for dinner at The Outback Steakhouse. We have "dominion": meaning, we are charged with the obligation of personally being responsible for their lives and how they are treated as they walk on our Earth.

Also in Genesis 1:30 God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given green plant for food." And it was so.

This sounds very simple to me. It sounds like we were meant to be vegetarians from the beginning of creation by these words.

To be honest, it makes more sense for conservatives to be vegetarians than anything else. After all, in their namesake, a conservative conserves. Conservation of our liberties and freedoms through our Constitution of the United States of America. Conservation of ourselves through the act of preserving, guarding, and protecting all our sentient brethren as reverent. Conservation in and of itself by not ending the existence of anything prematurely for our own personal gain, or for the gains of the State, or any other intent other than purely for preservation. Conservation of life: plain and simple.

Conservation of all life.
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