It shocks many people to realize that it was only around 50 years ago that segregation was still legal in the United States. African-Americans were looked down upon, and their children could not attend the same schools as white children. It wasn’t until 1955—when Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man—that people started to protest on a larger scale and the modern civil rights movement grew in momentum.
Likewise, we are horrified to learn that that the Nazi regime in World War II conducted live medical experimentation on Jews without anesthesia. It is incomprehensible to think that governments would pass laws allowing these injustices today. But they do, and hundreds of millions are tortured in these experiments every year. The only difference is that the victims are not human.
But that was the exact justification that people used back then—they said it was OK to oppress women because they were of a different gender. They said it was OK to oppress blacks because they were of a different skin color. And they still say it’s OK to oppress animals because they are of a different species.
Unlike humans, however, animals don’t have the ability to speak and stand up for their own rights. That’s where we come in. The fact that animals lack the verbal capacity to fight back does not make their cause any less worthy, though, and if anything, we need to be protecting them more—just as we protect our children, the elderly, the disabled, and others who are unable to advocate for themselves.
But there is a common pattern. People become more aware. Those who spoke up all faced ridicule and opposition, but today they are revered as national heroes. And the ethics that they advocated are now accepted as being self-evident.
Be proud to be an animal rights activist. You might face criticism from some of your peers, but rest assured that it makes a difference to the animals you are saving.
Posted by Des Bellamy