When it comes to all-time nutty and offensive quotes, the
following surely ranks near the top: "Six million Jews died in
concentration camps, but 6 billion broiler chickens will die this
year in slaughterhouses."
This statement did not come from David Duke, Louis Farrakhan or
some other anti-Semite out to make light of the Holocaust, but from
Ingrid Newkirk, founder of the People for the Ethical Treatment of
And there's this, from PETA's Web page: "Unfortunately, a number
of things in our society came about through others' exploitation.
For instance, many of the roads we drive on were built by slaves.
We can't change the past; those who have already suffered and died
are lost. But what we can do is change the future by using
non-animal research methods from now on."
Such remarks can only be uttered by those who inhabit a twisted
moral universe. The Holocaust no worse than eating chickens?
Slavery the moral equivalent of testing lab rats? This is not love
for animals; it is callousness toward human suffering.
Those who think the animal-rights crowd is composed of harmless
vegetarian teenagers ranting about fur coats need to think again.
These are serious people with a serious-if scary-belief system. For
example, animal-rights advocate Dr. Jerry Vlasak, writing about a
man whose 5-year-old boy had open-heart surgery, says the boy's
life is "no more or less important than any other animal's life, no
matter how much [the father's] emotions tell him otherwise."
Envirolink, another animal-rights organization, has gone so far
as to draft its own "Bill of Rights for Animals." The first
article: "All animals are born with an equal claim on life and the
same rights to existence." Oh really? I hope none of these folks
have mice in their homes, lest they be tempted to commit genocide
with a mousetrap and a slice of Velveeta.
I have a dog. I like animals. But I must confess: I'm a
specieist. I believe my species is superior to others. In fact, I
don't even believe animals have "rights," at least not in the same
sense that people do. Not that I endorse cruelty toward animals.
It's just that I can't feel bad for the cow when I'm devouring a
juicy burger. And I certainly can't get worked up over using
animals for medical research, especially when the benefits to
humankind (not to mention our pets, who depend on the same
treatments we do) are so abundant.
I'm sure many of today's animal-rights activists don't know that
nearly 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the United States as
recently as 1952. Today, that crippling disease has been eradicated
thanks to research on rabbits, monkeys and rodents. And while it
was tragic when animal-rights activist Linda McCartney succumbed to
breast cancer earlier this year, at least her life was prolonged
with chemotherapy-another treatment made possible by animal
Medical research is simply not possible without animal research,
according to the Americans for Medical Progress Education Fund
(AMPEF). All the machines and computer simulations in the world
cannot replicate the results derived from observing living muscle,
circulatory, blood, bone and organ systems. Indeed, the AMPEF
estimates that animal research has resulted in a 28-year increase
in our life spans.
The good news is that the animal-rights activists are losing,
and some of their staunchest opposition is coming not from
conservatives but from the left-led by anti-AIDS activists. And no
wonder: When Newkirk, the PETA founder, was asked what her group
would do if animal research produced an AIDS cure, she said, "We'd
be against it."
Perhaps it's time to suggest a new motto for animal-rights
activists: "We love animals, it's just people we're not too crazy
Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation
(www.heritage.org), a Washington-based public policy research