Animal Rights as Camouflage for Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism

Animal Rights as Camouflage for Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism January 12, 2019

Why do we only care about animal rights when we can use them to bash Muslims and Jews?

The Tip of the Iceberg

Belgium recently passed an animal-rights law that prohibits the killing of conscious animals in slaughterhouses, and the controversy was covered in articles here at Patheos Nonreligious. The Freethinker posted an article called ‘A sad day for Jews’: Belgium bans religious slaughter, in which Barry Duke sneered at Belgium’s Jews and Muslims for expecting preferential treatment. Rick Snedeker at Godzooks posted an article called No. The term ‘religious freedom’ is not a license to torture anything, in which he called legislation like the Belgium ban “a no-brainer.”

However, these approaches take an extremely narrow view of these battles, particularly as they’re waged in today’s Europe. Characterizing them as a conflict between secular society that cares deeply about animal welfare on the one hand, and religious groups demanding the right to treat helpless animals in a callous and inhumane way in the name of their sadistic deity on the other hand, is a cartoon version of a complex cultural matter. This caricature’s ability to pander to our sense of virtue allows us to overlook the rest of the iceberg.

The Marginalized Minority Report

In neither Patheos Nonreligious blog post cited above did the author acknowledge that Muslims and Jews are hated minorities in Belgium, where well over half the population identifies as Christian. The New York Times reports that the law in Belgium is the work of right-wing politicians who are using animal rights legislation as camouflage for their campaign to oppress and marginalize the Muslims and Jews they and their constituents resent:

Right-wing politicians in several countries have used controls on such religious practices to press bigoted agendas under the cloak of battling for civil or animal rights. In the Belgian case, the idea for the ban was first raised by Ben Weyts, a right-wing Flemish nationalist who is also responsible for animal welfare in the Flanders regional government, which imposed the ban that took effect last week.

In another Times article about the controversy, Weyts is described as a dyed-in-the-wool Nazi sympathizer. “Weyts was heavily criticized in 2014,” the article states, “for attending the 90th birthday of Bob Maes, who had collaborated with the Nazi occupation of Belgium in World War II and later became a far-right politician.”

Animal Rights and Wrongs

The Times describes the ethical complexity of the animal rights matter in Europe, and makes a distinction between a legitimate dialogue about animal welfare and one that’s just bigoted grandstanding:

There is no question that the animals we raise for food should be exposed to the least suffering possible, just as there is no question that killing a healthy creature has enormous potential for cruelty.

It should make our skeptic alarms ring when columnists who never discuss animal rights are inspired to write articles vociferously supporting animal rights legislation. If we really cared about humane treatment of animals, obviously, we’d be writing columns condemning factory farming and the horrific damage it does to the animals, the consumer, and the environment. This is a sign that the issue has become, as the Times calls it, camouflage rather than a sincere commitment to the well-being of sentient creatures. The issue is important to us not because we understand it fully, but because it allows us to bash religious people. We don’t really care about the Muslims and Jews who are the only ones being inconvenienced by this legislation, so that makes it “a no-brainer.”

Privilege and Binary Thinking

Why doesn’t it bother atheists and freethinkers to get in bed with fascists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites? Maybe a lot of nonbelievers, especially here in the USA, have more in common politically with white nationalists than we’d like to admit. It could be that reflexive Trump-hatred constitutes the extent of their political commitment, and they have no patience with the ideological nitty-gritty. It seems like a lot of men in the atheist blogosphere don’t look at matters like this as political in the sense that there are issues of power dynamics and marginalization involved. This black-and-white thinking is the opposite of what skeptics, humanists and freethinkers should apply to issues of social and cultural importance, and poses hazards to our ability to navigate the complexities of how religion, power and identity intersect in contemporary Western society.

What do you think? Should we care whether we’re in league with far-right dingbats if the cause is noble? Can well-meaning legislation be a tool of oppression?

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  • You argue convincingly that this legislation is cover, or as you say, camouflage, for Islamophobia. I am myself extremely skeptical of the use of that term, having seen it used as a form of camouflage itself for more intrinsically western political issues. Ben Affleck famously conflated it with racism, which is a mistake he is certainly not alone in making. It also commits a deeper sin, which is to conflate one’s religious identity with one’s very self, and in so doing any attack on a religious practice is an attack on practitioner. This is not a form of religious liberty, but of special privilege for a privileged form of belief.

    I have deeper concerns about the use of the term “antisemitism” in this context, which is a word horribly fraught with historical, racial, and religious connotations. It’s actual denotation is almost totally lost at this point in common conversation, and as such its use in describing a religious identity, as here, imports these other connotations which make conversation much more difficult than it should be. It is not anti-semitic to describe the butchering of animals in Jewish custom as cruel, nor is it anti-semitic to criticism Judaism per se. Over generalization in the use of this word does the opposite of Islamophobia: it makes a race into a religious identity.

    I am convinced, however, that your descriptions of the motives and political persuasions of those involved with this legislation are correct. You are right to point out the importance of understanding this context, but it’s less clear to me what consequence you think this should have.

    Your point about the difference in our attitudes toward religious practices and commercial ones is well taken, and most certainly betrays a reflexive attitude toward those religions. If, however, this reflexive attitude raises the possibility of persecution against religious belief, then its opposite – an unthinking defensive attitude – raises the possibility of persecution by the religious. In this case the persecution would be towards animals, not people, and in my opinion it returns the moral and political locus of the problem to animal rights.

    The purpose of camouflage is to disguise the existence of something so that an enemy overlooks it. In that regard your characterization is correct. But it’s wrong in that animal rights is real issue here, not merely a false impression.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    As a Jewish vegetarian, I appreciate the article.

    But. Let there not be camouflage in your note. Is it your assertion that Jewish slaughter is more cruel than other methods? And, why do you make the point that it’s not antisemitic to criticize Judaism when Jews themselves criticize Judaism morning, noon, and night?

  • Great response as usual, TJ!

    I don’t want to give the impression that animal rights have nothing to do with the issue here. Like I said in the article, the Patheos bloggers’ vociferous support for animal rights would be a lot more convincing if they had ever, even once, mentioned animal welfare in their posts. (By way of comparison, a now-defunct Patheos Nonreligious blog called Non Prophet Status used to address veganism and animal cruelty regularly.) It’s interesting to me that the VGT, the most significant animal rights organization in Austria—a nation also considering halal and kosher bans—never mentions religious slaughter on its website. It seems that either there’s a realistic awareness among European animal rights activists that there are concessions which deserve to be made to religious minorities, or that there’s a reluctance to have their efforts co-opted by right-wingers eager to demonize Jews and Muslims.

    I’m not proposing that the appeal to religious freedom automatically invalidates the concern for animal rights, either. I’m just pointing out that the Patheos bloggers never addressed the fact that this legislation was only successful because of the efforts of right-wing nationalists to demonize the minorities it targets. In response to my comment there, Rick over at Godzooks admitted he had no idea the legislation was proposed by a Belgian fascist. I’d love it if the kosher and halal butchers would amend their practices to conform to the standard proposed by animal welfare proponents. I just wonder whether the scrutiny we apply to halal and kosher slaughter isn’t extremely selective given the vast cruelty and harm done by factory farming in our day and age.

    Lastly, it needs to be said that bigots like Weyts aren’t gung-ho about this legislation because they’re opposed to religious liberty; they’re overwhelmingly Christian themselves, so they have no problem with “irrational systems of belief” or “tradition” or whatever other targets atheists usually set their sights on in these debates. They’re exploiting the animal rights angle, and fanning the flames of the white majority’s resentment against the “preferential treatment” they feel Jews and Muslims are demanding.

    I’m really grateful you took the time to respond here, and I’ll recommend once again that you contact Dale McGowan and see if you can get an outlet here at Patheos for your thought-provoking and original output.

  • Yes, Jewish slaughter is more cruel than the method prescribed in the OP. More than most commercial methods? Quite possibly less, actually.

    I’m not making the point to Jews themselves, who hardly need me to explain what is antisemitic and what isn’t. I’m making the point to those on both the left and right that religion does not define one’s identity, and that criticizing Judaism is not the same as attacking a Jew for merely being a Jew.

  • guerillasurgeon

    “Why do we only care about animal rights when we can use them to bash Muslims and Jews?”
    “WE?” ……………
    This legislation may well be cover for anti-Semitism. I’m not an expert on Belgium and its politics, so I’ll take your word on that. But there are plenty of people who campaign for animal rights outside of any reference to Judaism or Islam. But religious practices are simply included in the general ethos if you will. In New Zealand, for years now animals have been stunned before killing, in a way that seems to satisfy almost all the Muslims we export meat to. And although the negotiations were apparently reasonably difficult, it was all done without any islamophobic hysteria. And to be honest, if the animals were given a vote I doubt if they care exactly why the legislation was enacted – you think?

  • “Why do we only care about animal rights when we can use them to bash Muslims and Jews?”
    “WE?” ……………

    That doesn’t exactly answer the question. Why are we all gung-ho about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses when European fascists sound the alarm? Is it a sign of a freethinker to respond to right-wing alarmism at the drop of a hat?

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I do not discern a prescribed non-Jewish method in the OP. I see a reference to slaughter houses in general. It’s my experience that there is no one Jewish authority on slaughter. Kosher certification authorities are regional and there is often bickering as to their comparative adherence to Torah and frequent (in-house) accusations of fraud. Behind all that is supposed to be a goal to minimize animal suffering. Typically the goal is not accomplished. Some Jews today point to the fact that the main problem is all the animal abuse that occurs before the animals ever reach the place and point of slaughter. Typically animals drawn for Jewish slaughter come from the same factory sources as for the general public. So, there’s nothing Kosher about all the animal abuse before slaughter. Thus, due to the economic facts of the sourcing of animals, and Kosher practice at slaughter hardly makes a dent in the moral goal of Kashrut. So, there are some Jews that say the only way to keep Kosher in regard to meat is not to consume it.

    In regard to criticism of Judaism, the difference I live in is that I count myself with other Jews who do not conceive of Judaism as a religion, but as a civilization. This way of understanding Judaism was advanced by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. Whether Jews see that concept as definitive of their identity varies I suspect from person to person.

  • I don’t disagree with any of that, except that the OP referenced a killing method in which the animal was made unconscious prior to killing, which is claimed or implied to contradict traditional kosher and halal methods.

    In any case, my argument is not about kosher slaughter methods, but about animal rights and their relationship to religious freedom.

    Christians used to conceive of Christianity as a civilization too, and called it “Christendom”. That was just a means by which the religion implicated itself in imperial politics, and sought to establish its “right” to territories it felt belonged to that tradition, whether Jerusalem or Andalusia or Central Europe. Is there a reason to consider Kaplan’s conception any differently?

  • Very kind of you to say, Shem! I always enjoy your challenging but thoughtful OPs and comments.

    I think you’re almost certainly correct that there is a double standard in the way this issue is presented, which Daniel Johnson has argued in his replies to me as well. What’s more, your underlying point that atheists tend to essentialize their political views ( to the extent they have political views at all ) is true all too often, which leaves not just their animal rights views subject to hypocrisy, but their politics and even morality more generally. We have to balance this against political extremism, by which I refer to the impossibility of living in a contemporary, Western society without participating in a hypocritical political economy. But as in your example, the balance clearly falls on being anti-religious.

    If there’s anything I can remotely disagree with in your comment, it’s the idea that Christians are in favor of religious liberty. In the United States, at least, this is very far from the truth. Indeed, much of their political activism over the last several decades has originated in a clear strategy to violate religious liberty in favor of their own religious practices. The classic American solution, as described by Thomas Jefferson, involves the recognition that religious liberty has no place managing affairs between men, but only between men and god.

    What I think is interesting about your OP is the way this classic approach becomes relevant to animals, and thus to private property, and in the end opens another front in the debate about the freedoms humans can demand of and inflict on other humans.

    I also find myself somewhat indicted, too, for although I’ve written occasionally about animal rights, the radical view of it I’ve been led to by my post-Christian ethics is something I find difficult to translate. That’s a challenge I need to spend more time addressing.

  • kraut2

    when European fascists

    To label blithely without any evidence to the fact someone a fascist because he represents conservative thinking is obviously a sign of freethinking by shem.
    This obnoxious tendency to demonize with the term Nazi or fascist by what labels itself the “liberal left” but is far from being left – usually brave souls defending capitalism by fiddling with its less pleasant aspects – and maybe not even liberal in its attempt to reform the world according to the mantra that every country has to be forced according to their “liberal democratic” values usually plunging the targeted country into a hell of misery is really devaluing the the meaning of what fascism or its virulent form Nazism like a counterfit dollar.

    Please elucidate why this man you refer to as a fascist is one and where the evidence is to that claim.

    I personally do not care either for conservatives, nor for liberals and especially not neo liberal/neo conservative thinking and despise Nazis to the point of advocating any violence to eradicate them, but the loose and often unjustified usage of the term is a smear to those who do not deserve it and on the same level as to label as antisemitic those who criticize Israel and its politics vs. the Palestinians, including the revocation of an award to Angela Davis.

  • guerillasurgeon

    I’m not at all sure what you mean here. What I was saying is that there are plenty of people who wouldn’t be included in the “we”, who don’t just have connections about animals and slaughterhouses because European fascists “sound the alarm”. These were the people that were to some extent instrumental in establishing the rules for humane killing in slaughterhouses where I live. It may well be that those in America are inhumane. But I have been to several freezing works and watched the – well usually the lamb chain – and the animals distress is minimised insofar as it is possible when you’re actually killing them. They are only briefly restrained, then stunned and killed within seconds. And again I might mention that Muslims seem to have accepted this. Personally I can’t see why Jews cannot given the similarity in tradition, and the concern for animal welfare within that tradition given the technology of the time.

  • Re: “preferential treatment”

    At least in USA, it seems that Christian fundamentalists project when they accuse others of demanding preferential treatment, as they cry “Persecution” when *they* don’t get preferential treatment. (Classic doublethink.)

  • I am not so certain that kosher and halal slaughter are all that cruel, since the death is fairly quick and painless. When scientists keep predators like pythons, the pythons are fed rodents. Constrictors like pythons kill their prey by wrapping themselves around said prey and slowly tightening their coils each time the prey exhales. This inhibits the preys ability to inhale, and the prey is crushed to death. The snake then swallows the prey whole.

    That sounds cruel to feed animals to snakes, and *less* humane than kosher and halal slaughter. So, why is one fine, but folks have a fit over the other?

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Okay, I think I follow you. I guess the implied method is stunning before slaughter. I agree that would be better. But, again…I indict the whole meat industry. I would assert a Jewish religious argument against meat eating.

    In regard to Kaplan’s concept, I think what has happened with that is that Jews, including a lot of secular Jews, have basically formed a concept of “cultural Judaism” with it. Which is fine, I think…but, it’s as subject to antisemitism. I often get the feeling that it’s okay for me to be a Jew as long as I’m not Jewish.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    I think that, fascists want to infiltrate any kind of legitimate movement or field: punk rock, feminism, german metal, veganism, software development, etc.

    Zed Shaw has some experience with how this happens:

  • It looks to me as if we agree more than not, DJ. Thank you for the thoughtful and challenging comments.

  • kraut2

    You can of course try to teach the snake to eat already killed food. Don’t know what the particular needs of an animal have to do with our ability to butcher painlessly.

  • kraut2

    You do not seem to recognize that quite a few of the proto fascist and right leaning politicians especially in the UK and America have no problem siding with the right wing Zionists currently in power in Israel. There are even in Europe proto fascist and extrem right wingers who love to join Israel in eliminating the Palestinians, that some Rabbis and quite a large settler contingent like to label as rats and vermin. So to equate right wing and extrem right winger as necessarily anti semitic is far from the truth.

  • Please elucidate why this man you refer to as a fascist is one and where the evidence is to that claim.

    Meyts is the former vice-prez of the N-VA, a right-wing nationalist and separatist party in Belgium whose platform is anti-immigrant and advocates strict law-and-order measures under the pretext of anti-terrorism. He and other higher-ups in the party created outrage (as I mention in the post to which you’re ostensibly responding) by attending a birthday shindig for Bob Maes, a politico who was a Nazi collaborator during WWII.

    If it walks like a fascist and talks like a fascist, three guesses what I call it.

  • kraut2

    Fine, a right wing nationalist and a separatists – Your criteria of a fascist are pretty loose and encompassing it seems to me. That means then that the separatists nationalists like the Catalans or Basques or the Scottish separatists are by extension at least to some part fascists? And strict law and order is fascism because of what? It violates your anarchistic sensitivities or what? And the terrorism that Belgium, Germany, France, Spain etc. have experienced is just a fiction of the imagination not warranting to take a closer look at groups that are prone to such acts and clamping down on Muslim clergy spreading hate in mosques, or folks that are under observation but got away before having been stopped?
    So anti terrorism is suddenly a pretext?

    And in case I violate your sensitivities further – every country has the right to control its borders and control the influx of would be immigrants. I have immigrated from Germany to Canada and lately immigrated from Canada – that has very strict immigration laws BTW with a quota system – to Portugal. I had to abide in both cases to the laws that regulate immigration and was willing to follow them. I see thing admirable and that is not criminal in flouting the laws of your host country by illegally or by hiring the services of criminal gangs to further your acts. And what is more bothersome is the conflation of asylum seekers/refugees as defined by the UN with such illegal immigrants, which nothing are but cue jumpers often funneling moneys needed in their home countries to human traffickers to support for gangs.
    What I posted above should be enough to highlight the idiocy of labeling stricter immigration laws as anti immigrant. The New German left party luckily has luckily clued in that uncontrolled immigration in Europe cannot persist and will not persist.

    Regarding the visit to a Nazi collaborator – which is very doubtful that he was one at all. I am reading his Wikipedia page and became a member of the Nationalist Flemish Youth. Now, a lot of Germans Artists and politicians were members of the NSDAP and after the war became members of all three major parties in Germany – does that still make them Nazis after the war? Can a Nazi not repent? Is once being a Nazi always being one, like an infection that cannot be gotten rid of? I really have no sympathy for those who remain Nazis and did not learn anything from Germany’s past.

    Maes is still a nationalist but being a nationalist to me is not being a Nazi, it is being a person who wants to keep his National identity he was born with or acquired, who defines himself as a member of a Nation with its culture and and political system, like despite having moved to Portugal and being German by birth I have chosen Canada as my homeland and home nation.
    I am from accepting Globalism as a viable option, and do not see any obstruction to being a Nationalist and accepting other cultures and Nations as equal partners presenting different options. I do not believe in a melting pot, our tribal ancestry speaks against this. The majority in Europe made it very clear that the idea of an EU is fine – but still want to be Germans, french, Belgians in the FIRST place.

    As i said, you devalue the term Nazi dangerously so by labeling it seems without proper research – as a lot of the so called liberal left are wont to do – anybody whose ideas are not in line with yours. It is a smear campaign justified by nothing but hate of those who disagree and don’t follow your line of thinking.

    I hate Nazis because of what they did, but can live with them if they have renounced their former politics. I hate neo nazis as the stupid idiots having learned nothing, but that does not justify anybody to smear somebody else with that label as you see fit.
    All I can say that your stance is immature, vindictive and reprehensible. Unfortunately – that seems to be the going rate in the US and in parts of Europe right now – misrepresent your opponent by any means possible.

  • guerillasurgeon

    “As i said, you devalue the term Nazi dangerously so by labeling it seems without proper research ”
    On the contrary, if you don’t call them what they actually are you’re playing into their hands. They invented the term alt right for just that purpose, so that they wouldn’t be called Nazis with all that baggage.
    And if you dig a little deeper than Wikipedia, which apparently the N-VA has been trying to manipulate, you find:

    “Maes distances himself from the terrorist road that the VMO took after his departure, but he unanimously praises the VNV and continues to condone the collaboration (with the German National Socialists).”
    So he doesn’t look particularly repentant and fuck it I’ll just call it like I see it. Nazi. I don’t even bother using the word Neo these days.

  • Dude.

    You asked for evidence, I provided it, and you ignored it.

    You have never, even once, addressed the topic of this post.

    You’re being an insulting, overbearing, nitpicking jerk.

    Consider this a warning. Correction: three warnings.

  • Incidentally, I didn’t delete any of Herr Nitpicker’s precious posts here. He evidently got so pissy at being told to play nice that he decided to zilch them himself.

    No great loss.

  • Antoon Pardon

    Why do we only care about animal rights when we can use them to bash Muslims and Jews?

    We, here in Begium, generally care somewhat. If I recall correctly two slauterhouses had their licence suspended in the last year, because of animal right violations. One university got into trouble because of problems how they treated animals they were experimenting on.

    An other problem is that there is no barier between the halal meat and the regular meat. Any surplus of halal meat find its way into the chain of non-halal meat. Which in a way makes halal slaughter houses compete unfairly with regular slaughter houses. Gaia, our national animals rights organisation had already tried years to negotiate with the muslim and jew communities here, but AFAIK to no effect. And they tried for longer than the NVA exists.

    Do we care enough about animals right? Probably not. But the problem is that the little protections animals had, was easily circumvented because of religious excemptions. So sure we could start with adopting more strict regulation in how to treat animals, but that could very well result in just more halal meat into the regular circuit.

    And no I don’t care whether or not I am in league with extreme right dingbats. Some political parties tried that strategy, refusing to treat any problem the extreme right wing (which is the VB and not the NVA) pointed out. The result was that the extreme right just had to point out a number of real concerns, which made the other political parties reluctant to tackle them and so the extreme right could then claim the regular parties had left things to rot. That is what happens if you care too much you might be in league with extreme right dingbats. You let the extreme right dingbats partially control your program.

  • SocraticGadfly

    This is kind of like Huntington’s “clash of civilizations,” where I call his side “Christianism,” to allow it to including people not religiously Xn but who do believe in the clash idea.

  • SocraticGadfly

    Well, well, put.

    And, per Tokyo, while Islamophobia is not racism, since Islam is a religion, not a race, Islamophobia is a real thing, if he’s implying it’s not. As I said into a comment to him below, i think it’s used as a tool in the Christianism side of the “clash of civilizations.”

  • Guthrum

    What about hunting and fishing? Should there be a law against those activities?

  • I agree. I usually say that “terrorist” isn’t a race, and neither is “immigrant.” However, nobody would deny that our discourse about terrorism and immigration is sodden with racism. Same goes for Islam.

  • Anyone who believes the ritual-slaughter ban is anything more than white Europe’s defense mechanism against multiculturalism should take a look at this article from the Law Library of Congress:

    In 1933, Adolf Hitler, shortly after becoming chancellor, banned the slaughter of animals in Germany without prior stunning, which led to an anguished rabbinic debate on whether observant Jews could eat meat slaughtered with prior stunning under these circumstances.

    First you ban ritual slaughter, then you can prohibit the import of halal and kosher food, and before you know it, Muslims and Jews feel extremely unwelcome on your continent. Is that the objective?

  • The thing is “animals” don’t have rights. People have rights. So the question is, which animals, other than humans, are people? I would argue that dolphins might count, and I do oppose dolphin and other cetacean hunting.

  • Raging Bee

    And people have obligations toward the animals under our power. And we have obligations toward our fellow humans, which include protecting our biosphere and all species in it, so that all people, and future generations, get to benefit from the biosphere.

  • No one here said they were. We’re discussing the matter of stunning animals prior to slaughter, which appears to be a distinction-without-a-difference intended to oppress Muslims and Jews under the pretext of animal rights.

    Correction: everyone else here is discussing that.

  • Animal rights groups like PETA make the point that the stunning issue has to be seen in the context of conventional meat production methods. In other words, they’re not saying it’s the same thing to slaughter a conscious animal and an unconscious one; they’re saying that the whole idea of “humane slaughter” is an oxymoron. Furthermore, they probably are well aware of the way right-wing anti-Muslim groups make hay out of these brouhahas, not for the sake of animal welfare but for the sake of demonizing Muslims and Jews.

    I don’t buy for a minute that you’re any more concerned about animal rights than any of the other village atheists who have chimed in to demonize Muslims and Jews for their barbarism. And your assertion that anyone with qualms about imposing the white European majority’s will on Muslims and Jews in this instance is essentially condoning child rape is about as far from fair-minded, civil discussion as I could conceivably imagine.

  • abear

    I didn’t say that people that wanted to allow halal and kosher slaughter condones child rape. You are not characterizing my statement fairly.
    I am against any religion, christianity, islam, scientology, and others to get special dispensation from the law. I assume everyone here wants to “impose their will” on muslims as far as human rights go, such as child marriage and slavery. I go further and say they need to obey other laws as well, including laws on animal cruelty.

  • I don’t know how much more clearly I can state that I don’t buy, not for a minute, that your opposition to halal slaughter derives from a sincere commitment to animal rights and not from anti-Muslim bias. You’ve implied that Muslims are savages who take pleasure in animal cruelty as well as child rape:

    Muslims, or at least many muslims also view polygamy, the virtual ownership of girls and women, the ability to marry and have sex with girls as young as 9 years old , and other things that are unacceptable in western countries as important principles in their religion. If not giving muslims or other religious groups special dispensations to ignore those laws is islamophobic then I am an islamophobe.

    I wasn’t born yesterday.

  • abear

    You have your mind made up and apparently think that anyone that disagrees with you on this topic is some kind of bigot. I am in favor of laws that limit unnecessary cruelty and I am also against giving people permission for people to ignore the laws of the land because of their religious affiliation. The christian new testament endorses slavery and command slaves obey their masters. When slavery was outlawed law took precedent over religion. In islam, it is haram to buy insurance according to most conservative scholars. If muslims live in a country that mandates they have insurance to drive a car then they must obey that law.
    According to islamic law (sharia) a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a mans. The laws where I live say a woman’s testimony is equal to that of a man’s regardless of their religion and I say that is the way it should be.
    You believe I implied that muslims are savages that enjoy child rape and cruelty. What I really said is that these are tenets of islam, and unless you are ignorant of the facts or dishonest then you have to agree with that. I doubt that many muslims enjoy the cruelty involved in halal slaughter, many if not most do not do the slaughter themselves. The problem is a regressive backward religion that commands people endorse this inhumane practice regardless of their personal feelings. I for one don’t want this religion or any other one for that matter to take precedent over our law..

  • You have your mind made up and apparently think that anyone that disagrees with you on this topic is some kind of bigot.

    Um, no, I just think that anyone who repeatedly makes bigoted comments about Muslims is some kind of bigot.

  • abear

    Bigoted comments like describing practices that are regarded as sunnah, particularly in the more conservative muslim communities?
    That is just describing what many muslims believe and practice. Have I said anything false about islam?
    I guess you think that if I described scientologist beliefs accurately you would think I’m a bigot too?

  • It’s just so funny that you think I’m going to accept that you’re an expert on Islam and the culture of Muslims.

    So funny.

  • abear

    Do you have a factual argument against anything I’ve actually said? I’ve given a sincere effort here to stick to the facts and stay away from personal attacks like questioning the honesty of your argument.
    If you like give evidence of inaccurate claims I have made about how islam is practiced and interpreted according to the quran and haditha.
    Likewise, do you have a specific phrase that I have said that is bigoted? If you do please provide.

  • It seems impossible to get through your head that I don’t consider you some sort of sober, objective scholar in the field of Islam who has made a study of the breadth of cultures of Muslims worldwide. You’ve cherry-picked a few factoids in order to characterize Muslims as scary perverts. Congratulations.

  • abear

    Instead of addressing my facts you have called me names, questioned my honesty, and entirely strawmanned what I said. When you can’t win on the facts i guess you have to resort to those tactics. Pretty much an admission you don’t have a well thought position on the issue.

  • My position is exactly what it has always been, explained in the title of the post to which you’re ostensibly responding: you’re emblematic of the very online atheist I’m describing, who uses otherwise commendable social causes like animal welfare and women’s rights not as ends in themselves but as camouflage for their anti-Muslim bigotry.

    If you’re such a stickler about addressing facts, by all means address this one: In 1933, Adolf Hitler, shortly after becoming chancellor, banned the slaughter of animals in Germany without prior stunning, which led to an anguished rabbinic debate on whether observant Jews could eat meat slaughtered with prior stunning under these circumstances. Doesn’t this at least suggest that these ritual slaughter issues have long been a tool of right-wing nationalists?

    All I’m expecting anyone to do here is to make it sound like there’s any gray area here, that our commitment to multiculturalism should at least make us think twice about getting into bed with right-wing interests in Europe. Animal rights activists are pretty unanimous that the entire food-animal industry is inhumane from beginning to end; making an arbitrary distinction about “stunning” is just serving the interests of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. All the ivory-tower pronouncements I’ve heard so far just make it clear that self-professed freethinkers have no qualms about imposing the will of the majority on hated minorities when it suits their bigotries.

  • Proud Liberal

    How are those at all relevant to this?

  • phatkhat

    Animal “rights” groups do not promote one method of slaughter over another. They do not endorse slaughter at all. They tend to be pretty extreme, calling your viewpoint “speciesist”.

    Animal “welfare” groups are the ones that acknowledge that we use animals in ways not the best for the animals, but try to make life better for the animals in general.

    You might check out the difference between PETA and the HSUS.

  • Great. Doesn’t really change my point. Only people have rights.

  • phatkhat

    People also have obligations. Animals don’t.

  • What obligations do people have, and why?

  • phatkhat

    Eh, I don’t think you respect any life other than that which you choose – i.e. people and dolphins. But maybe you need to go back to read Raging Bee’s comment again.

  • Well, this is a two month old discussion. I might have forgotten a few things. But I don’t think so. Now please answer my question: what obligations do people have, and why?

  • phatkhat

    Raging Bee:

    And people have obligations toward the animals under our power. And wehave obligations toward our fellow humans, which include protecting our biosphere and all species in it, so that all people, and future generations, get to benefit from the biosphere.

    Pretty much sums it up. And if you don’t agree with that, you are either heartless, totally out of touch, or both. Oh, wait. You don’t!


    As for the social contract b.s. it’s just that. A contract must be entered into voluntarily. The idea that you are bound by a contract, simply because you are a born, is nothing more than slavery.

    I see. I looked at your posting history. It looks like you are a libertarian and anti-vax. I have nothing more to say to you. Good day.

  • I’m an anarchist, and I am not anti-vax. I recognize the power of vaccines, though I also recognize their limitations.