Fourth of July’s Declaration of Independence is Pure Hypocrisy
For vegans and the larger sphere of social justice activists, the fourth of July, Independence Day, remains a day of reflection and sorrow. The most fundamental contradiction of this holiday of independence from the brutal dictatorship of King George of England is that the 13 states which signed the Declaration of Independence, that document which proclaims that all men are created equal, had slaves. In some states, the population of slaves reached 40%. The document also denigrated the rightful owners of the land, Native Americans, by referring to them as “savages.” The flawed document also accuses indigenous people of war crimes for attempting to protect themselves. To be frank, the Declaration of Independence should be scrutinized for its ignorance and its selective lack of empathy, yet, it is a document that is still upheld as a beacon of what is right by people who haven’t bothered to read it carefully.
It’s only partly right and it is mostly wrong. How were we to proclaim ourselves free from dictatorship while we were also at war with a population whose land we had stolen? On what moral and physical ground were the colonies to proclaim themselves “free” as they used and abused slaves, people who were robbed of their lives, their liberty and pursuit of happiness?
Fast forward to 2018: social justice has not been achieved. With all of our collective knowledge along with the extraordinary advances in industry, medicine and technology, we have still not learned how to be just or peaceful. On this Fourth of July, we have brown babies in detention camps. Our government is not better than the government of King George. Our government is guilty — 14 million American children are hungry. Millions more are malnourished, under-educated and live in poverty.
In preparation for this farce of a holiday, hundreds of millions of animals were incarcerated, tortured and murdered. Today, hundreds of millions of murdered, innocent animals will be cut up and charred on a grill. People will gleefully stuff their bellies with what they call “food,” never giving a thought to the actual meaning of independence from tyranny.
Animal farming, the corporate business of incarcerating, torturing and murdering billions of members of another tribe, another species, is the definition of tyranny.
I wonder if anyone will bother reading the Declaration of Independence today. It takes five minutes. Try switching out white people in this wrong-headed, dated, and callous paper for non-white human and non-human victims of tyranny. Go ahead; it makes for an eye-opening read.
Then, if you are truly a flag-waving July fourth enthusiast, think about what our troops alive today have been forced to endure and do in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and what does any of that have to do with liberation from tyranny? It goes without saying that we support American soldiers who serve in the armed forces but “support our troops” has, with needless wars, become a hollow and partisan slogan to gin up and support America’s corporate war machine, not its soldiers.
Tonight, thoughtless millions of Americans will mindlessly set off fireworks, frightening more animals, killing others, putting us all at risk of wildfires, especially in the parched western United States.
From PETA: fireworks displays are disastrous for animals. Besides being frightening, fireworks produce plumes of smoke that are harmful to animals’ respiratory systems and pollute standing water. The California Coastal Commission banned the city of Gualala’s fireworks display after a 2006 show caused nesting seabirds to flee their nests and abandon their chicks. Fireworks are also being blamed for the deaths of about 50 birds found dead on a street in Sweden earlier this year. Animal shelters also report an increase in the number of lost animal companions following fireworks displays. Many animals go missing because they panic and jump over fences or break chains; some even jump through plate-glass windows in order to get away from the terrifying sounds.
Not surprisingly, I wasn’t invited to any July 4th parties today. People have tired of my earnest plea for animals’ lives — they are disturbed by the truth and because I refuse to keep quiet about the violence and injustice animals endure, I am shunned. Most people want to eat the ribs of a dead pig in peace. To quote animal liberation activist Patty Shenker, “peace begins on your plate.”
Today, along with my fellow vegans, I grieve as others celebrate. We have no cause to cheer as our nostrils and our lungs are seared with the smell and smoke of burning friends. We are still a minority and our movement is still in its cradle but we must do more than cry; we must rise up like revolutionaries past and as we rise, we must march forward towards a vegan world. We stand on solid moral ground — we truly are the first army of non-violence in the history of the world. Our weapons are empathy and truth and we will never back down until every cage is empty.
We have our own Declaration of Animal Rights. I was proud to sign it. Read it today. It is a document, unlike the Declaration of Independence, that promotes true freedom from harm.