Harambe. Cecil. Marius. An American gorilla, an African lion and a Danish baby giraffe. These were three non-human animals who have gotten into our collective consciousness, after they’ve been coldly and mercilessly killed by human beings.
But the 90 MILLION animals who are similarly killed in this country, every day, by human hands and for human needs, do not have a name, nor a face, nor anyone to mourn for them. Their death is as senseless, cruel and unnecessary. But most of us are not even aware of it, and those who are – don’t care.
Most of us are good and kind people. But when we are indoctrinated from childhood that animals are inferior, don’t matter, are not individuals; that farm animals are food, wild animals are dangerous and should be hunted, and other animals are meant to be tested on, we are capable of total apathy in the face of their suffering. And when we are born into this world with an exploitation and extermination machine operating in full-power hidden from our view, and when this machine is masked with fake compassion terms such as “Cage-Free”, “Grass-fed”, “Free-range”, and “Humane” - we are capable of allowing it the most atrocious acts of violence and genocide: towards the planet it’s polluting, towards the people it is slowly killing, and most of all – towards the billions of animals it is oppressing and then destroying.
I have seen them with my own eyes. As an undercover investigator in “factory farms” - where farm animals are treated like products on a conveyer-belt - I have witnessed, behind closed doors and completely hidden from the public’s view, animals being ripped away from their families, mutilated, tortured, abused, and eventually butchered in the most cruel, horrific ways, day in and day out. Breathing, feeling, living beings, with eyes and ears and noses and hands and legs, who are no different than us aside from the shape of their body and the color of their skin. Treated like objects, humiliated, disregarded, abused, exterminated.
I can only describe what I’ve seen with one word: The Holocaust didn’t stop, it just changed its victims.
In front of you are some of these victims. Beautiful, playful, fun-loving beings, whom we label “pigs”, “cows”, “chickens”, “wildlife animals”, “pets”. Nameless individuals, most of whom have never known the kindness of a human heart, nor the loving touch of their own mother. The only time they’ve ever been respected, caressed, held, and not abused, is now, here, today. Please take a good look at them, every one of them, and realize they are just a few among billions of others like them. Voiceless victims that we will never know.
We are gathered here today, on the 6th National Animal Rights Day in the United States and Canada, to remember them, to name them, to love them, to not forget them, to cry out for them, to fight for them. For the animals who are no longer with us, and for the billions of animals who are languishing as we speak in factory farms, slaughterhouses, laboratories, live meat markets, auction places, circuses, rodeos, hunting grounds and zoos, around this country and the rest of the world.
Let’s take a moment of silence to honor them, bring them to our minds and hearts , and let them know that they are not alone.