When I began writing my book on the animal rights movement, I believed that there was the “mainstream” movement–if that term is applicable to any ideology as radical as animal rights–and extremists who were violent and dangerous. And I puzzled at the generally muted or non-reaction of most leaders of the mainstream movement and their seeming indifference to arson, the threatening of families, and etc. that are the hallmarks of so-called “direct actions,” taken by the likes of ALF and SHAC.
Well, my research and events have led me to the unexpected conclusion that I was in error. There are not two movements, one peaceable and one violent, but one movement; people united in purpose and cause who merely pursue and support each others’ different strategies toward the same end. Indeed, the animal rights/liberation movement is a single organism that accepts violence (with some exceptions, i.e. Gary Francione) as a legitimate tactic. Worse, some on the most extreme are edging closer to physical assault and perhaps even murder.
Proof of this is found in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? a book consisting of chapters about ALF and SHAC written by some of the most notable leaders in the movement.
About ALF and its arson tactic, Ingrid Newkirk writes:
I would hazard to say that no movement for social change has ever succeeded without “the militarism component.”…Isn’t the chicken house today’s concentration camp?–or do we not believe it is wrong to make victims and to deride and persecute those we do not relate to? Will we condemn its destruction or condemn its existence? Which is the more violent wish? If property stands as a mechanism, a platform, or a vehicle for violence, shouldn’t it be destroyed?
Steven Best, who co-edited the book and invited the now imprisoned terrorists Rodney Coronado and Kevin Jonas (SHAC-7) to contribute, wrote this:
Realizing that nonviolence against animal exploiters in fact is a pro-violence stance that tolerates their blood-spilling without taking adequate measures to stop it, a new breed of freedom fighters has ditched Gandhi for Machiavelli, and switched from principled nonviolence with the amoral (not to be confused with immoral) pragmatism that embraces animal liberation “by any means necessary.” A new civil war is unfolding–one between forces hell-bent on exploiting animals and the earth for profit whatever the toll, and activists steeled to resist this omnicide tooth and nail…
In the world of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, the FBI, the CIA, and the corporate conglomerates, we are all becoming aliens, foreigners to their pre-modern barbarity by virtue of our very wish to uphold modern liberal values and constitutional rights. Like the “war on drugs,” the “war on terrorism” is phony, a front war on privacy, liberty, and democracy. Only counter terrorists can defeat terrorists. May the armies of the animal, earth, and human liberationists rise and multiply in a perfect war against the oppressors of the earth.
Newkirk and Best are two of the most prominent leaders in the movement. No, the animal liberation movement overall is not peaceable. And it is no believer in democracy or it would ostracize the ALF and SHAC types and cooperate with law enforcement in their capture and prosecution. More on this theme as time allows.