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June 20, 2011 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-20

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Monday, June 20, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Where's the beef.


As I sit here writing this, I
finish my last bite of steak. Not
because I'm particularly hun-
gry, not because I'm iron deficient
- but because I believe in mak-
ing a difference. Standing up for
what's right: eating meat. Why?
Because advocating for animal
rights is essentially an erroneous,
philosophically-flawed argument
that calls for the defamation of the
human condition simply to prevent
the defecation of the animal.
Philosopher Peter Singer
famously argued that our current
perception of humanity revolves
around a wholly speciesist mindset,
noting that the entirety of human
existence is marked by anthro-
pocentric behavior. We're selfish.
We don't exhibit any empathy for
anything beyond ourselves. Maybe
Denny's Maple Bacon Sundae is a
little indulgent. Maybe we should
consider a different societal system,
one that avoids assigning values to
distinctions between species. You
know, stop putting people first.
Maybe. But probably maybe not.
Speciesism is not only difficult to
say, but idealizes the animal king-
dom, turning it into some fairy tale
Disney theme park. The majestic
two-toed sloth does not spare his
victim - why should we? Yes, it
could be argued that since we do
have a heightened sense of moral-
ity, as exhibited by the congrega-
tion of Westboro Baptist Church
and the cast of "Jersey Shore,"
perhaps we should extend our eth-
ics to beings beyond humans. But
come on, an eye for an eye, right?
It's not just some outdated retribu-
tion principle that should probably
be left in Babylonia - no, no - it's
essential in understanding the lack
of responsibility humans have to
protect animals. And of course,
makes intercourse and Helen
Keller jokes possible.
You can read more about specie-
sism in Larry the Cable Guy's lat-
est novella, "Git-R-Done," available
nationwide at Walmart or truck
stop restrooms. But for now, there
are bigger fish to fry - religion, my
friends, religion. Yes, it's true - you
can keep eating your Double Down
- God wants you to. In Genesis 9,
God told Noah that animals were

inferior to humans. They should
fear us, and we should eat them,
or as the Word of God colorfully
raunched it up - "Every moving
thing that liveth shall be meat for
you." And then Noah gets plastered
and naked in a tent by himself, and
poor Ham has to see his dad Noah's
bacon and eggs.
But I digress. Religions, even
those beyond Christianity, uphold
the inherent value humans have
over animals through the wide-
spread acceptance of dualism, or
the doctrine that states humans are
both physical beings and immate-
rial minds. As Descartes explains
it, animals are simply physical enti-
ties, completely barren of any sort
of moral compass. "(Animals) are
destitute of reason...and it is nature
that acts in them (mechanically)."
He then goes on to explain that dis-
secting "the heartof some large ani-
mal possessed of lungs" is so choice,
and ifyouhave the means, he highly
recommends picking one up.
Anyway, the point - based on
the infallibility of the theological
compliance with dualism, we can
of course infer that humans are the
only creatureswith any moral, epis-
temological value. What separates
humanity from other species is that
animals are simply not conscious
beings (though it could be argued
that many of our fellow humans
here at the University are not exact-
ly conscious beings either; at least
on most Friday evenings). Animals
cannot reason, think, feel pain like
humans do. Nor are they capable
of creating the splendor humans
are capable of. War, crime, Michael
Bolton - these are entirely human
constructs that only truly moral
creatures could produce! Yeah,
you're welcome, Simba.
And so, what have we learned
today? One, my neighbor picks up
the paper in the nude. Two, animal
rights advocates incorrectly argue
that creatures beyond humans have
values, when it's quite clear humans
are the only beings that conduct
themselves with dignity and class.
And hey, if you don't believe me, just
look at Michele Bachmann.
Melanie Kruvelis is a senior
editorial page editor.

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gold sejtnd! Y
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Why they hate us

It's no secret that Arab senti-
ment towards the United States is
incredibly negative. A recent Pew
Research Cen-
ter poll of vari-
ous Muslim
nations found
that in Jordan,
Turkey, Paki-
stan, Egypt
and Palestine,
approximately JONATHAN
15 percent of AYLWARD
people viewed
the U.S. favor-
ably. During the Bush Jr. presi-
dency, the question was often
asked, "Why do they hate us?"
We were quick to claim that they
must hate our freedom.
The truth isn't too hard to see,
and it isn't pretty either. That's
probably why we've clung to our
simplistic clich, avoidingthe less
self-affirming truth. One of the
primary reasons for this abundant
anti-American attitude is actually
much different than the afore-
mentioned Bushism. Though we
have labeled ourselves champions
of democracy and human rights,
by blindly pursuing our economic
interests in the region, we actual-
ly help limit the access to freedom
for entire nations.
About a month ago, in a speech
responding to the events of the
Arab Spring, President Obama
asserted his commitment to the
spread of democracy throughout
the Middle East. He boldly pro-
claimed, "It will be the policy
of the United States to promote
reform across the region, and to
support transitions to democra-
cy." After a long history of strong
economic and political relation-
ships with dictators, this was an
incredibly weighty declaration.
Not surprisingly, it has already
proven to be a largely empty
Let's pretend that Obama's
speech has created a new para-
digm in U.S. foreign policy. In

r the past we acted with economic
interests in mind, and it was
unimportant whether a nation's
government was democratic or
promoted human rights. How-
ever, according to the speech, the
U.S.'s interests now depend on a
shift to the promotion of democ-
racy and human rights. Conse-
quently, in the time since the
speech, we would expect to have
seen a monumental change in our
relations to a number of regimes.
After gently chastising Yemen
and Bahrain (two close economic
and political allies) in his speech
for their prolonged brutal crack-
downs on pro-democracy pro-
testers, Obama has done little to
demonstrate that we are serious
about adhering to our new ideals.
Just as with Egypt and Mubarak,
the U.S. maintained support for
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah
Saleh up until the point when it
was obvious that he was on his
way out. Two weeks ago, while
hosting the Bahraini Crown
Prince, Obama pledged enthusi-
astic U.S. support and failed to
acknowledge the ongoing violent
government crackdowns.
The clearest indicator that the
United States will continue to
act out of self-interest, and not
out of concern for democracy
and human rights, is our rela-
tionship with Saudi Arabia. An
Islamic monarchy, the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia prohibits free
speech and political parties, dis-
allows women from driving and
only allows them to travel with
the permission of their closest
male relative. It considers death
an appropriate punishment for
homosexuality and actively cen-
sors the Internet. Yet Saudi Ara-
bia is one of our closest allies in
the region. If this seems incon-
gruent, there's one more impor-
tant fact to consider: They are
the number one exporter of oil in
the world. Clearly democracy and
human rights, let alone stopping

the societal conditions that breed
terrorists, can be put on the back-
burner if you have enough oil for
sale. It's no coincidence that Saudi
Arabia is the birthplace of Osama
bin Laden and fifteen of the nine-
teen hijackers involved in the 9/11
Despite Obama's lofty asser-
tion, it's clear that we still active-
ly support regimes that repress
democracy and human rights
in the Middle East. This simple
fact goes a long way in explain-
ing the question we've been ask-
ing since 9/11: "Why do they hate
us?" Anti-American sentiment
will continue to grow as the gap
widens between what we say we
represent and what we actually
The U.S. limits
freedom for
entire nations.
As the democratic fervor of the
Arab Spring lingers on, we are
faced with two paths: we can truly
embrace the ideals of democ-
racy and human rights with our
actions, or we can continue to
simply talk about them. One
choice garners the support of the
masses, one further exacerbates
our current dilemma. As people in
the Middle East continue to reject
dictators and implement democ-
racies more representative of pub-
lit sentiment, the United States'
popularity will shift from a mere
statistic with little consequence,
to the unpleasant political reality
of decreased trade opportunities
and an increasingly isolated role
in the world.
Jonathan Aylward can be
reached at jaylward@umich.edu.

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