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Update Newsletters
October 5, 2011

1. Activist Feedback

2. Comments on The Death of the Liberal Class

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

1. Activist Feedback

Sharon, who leafleted at Festa Italiana, writes,

We were there Friday afternoon and Sunday. We received a great response and handed out about 300 booklets.

We received many positive responses to our T-shirts!!!

A group of 20 kids want to start a chapter in their school when school starts.

We walked around the grounds of Festa and noticed a number of Vegetarian options. There were more than have been previously there, and we complimented the vendors for this. In all it was a great experience.

2. Comments on The Death of the Liberal Class

I recently read The Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges, and I think some of his observations are relevant to animal protectionism. Hedges argues that the “liberal class” – journalists, intellectuals, and artists – historically have been the voices of justice and truth against the rhetoric of corrupt religious or governmental authorities. The liberal class has often challenged or even denounced power elites and their institutions for harming those who are weak and vulnerable.

Hedges argues that liberal class has often abandoned its crucial role as the conscience of society for two reasons. Most commonly, they have sold out to the power elite, who have offered member of the liberal class financial and profession benefits as long as they refrain from fundamentally challenging institutions. Members of the liberal class can criticize individual wrongdoers, but journalists lose access to key sources, academics are blackballed, and artists fail to obtain grants if they assert that particular institutions are structurally corrupt or evil.

Second, during times of war, criticism is effectively silenced for being “unpatriotic” or for “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” By avoiding criticism, those in power benefit greatly from a permanent state of war, which, for example, the never-ending “War on Terror” provides. We see a manifestation of this phenomenon in the Animal Enterprises Terrorism Act, which criminalizes those who “intimidate” animal abusers. Since “intimidation” is highly subjective, the law’s ambiguity puts many animal activists at risk of state-supported repression.

I don’t necessarily agree with all components of the progressive agenda that Hedges advocates, but I do share his passion for protection of free speech. If somebody’s speech angers us, it’s very likely that there are elements of truth that we don’t want to face.

Hedge’s provocative style probably won’t appeal to everyone, but I admire him as a modern Jeremiah, who rails against injustice. If I could sit down with Hedges, I’d raise two concerns. First, it seems to me that there are progressive voices out there, and the Internet is an effective medium for disseminating their ideas widely and inexpensively. However, it appears that most people aren’t very interested. Though there are major challenges facing us today, most people seem to turn to media that entertain or to exclusively conservative viewpoints. There is nothing wrong with listening to conservative views, and a little entertainment never hurt anyone, but if people avoid listening to progressive voices, they will likely be missing important insights and proposals.

My second concern is more of an objection. Hedges devotes much time to people who are poor or otherwise disadvantaged, and he expresses concern for the environment insofar as it impacts people, but he never mentions animal issues. It makes no sense to talk about justice and nonviolence while ignoring injustice and violence against nonhumans that, in terms of degree and number, far outweigh injustices against humans. If progressives are to stand for basic principles of justice yet turn a blind eye when those principles are massively violated against the very weakest and most vulnerable among us, their “progressive” voices become hollow, almost to the point of irrelevance.

Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman

Why Are We Walking for Hunger?

Your question and comments are welcome

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