Harassment and intimidation are not forms of progressive, social activism.
Regrettably, it is common for animal right activists, who consistently fail to articulate a cogent argument to the public, to recruit such tactics with the goal of imposing their views on those they disagree with.
This past weekend, the animal rights group ‘Progress for Science,’ descended once again on the neighborhood of a UCLA professor with the only intention of harassing her, her family and neighbors, by brandishing their spiteful language, libelous chants, and false imagery.
Such is the treatment some UCLA faculty, their families and neighbors, have endured for many years now. Everyone’s patience has limits and, on this occasion, a group of ~45 members of the UCLA community, including scientists, students, staff, and supporters, welcomed the group with a simple message —
Your harassment, threats and lies are not going to be tolerated any more.
This time around Progress for Science was placed in the unusual position of having to be on the receiving end. It was a refreshing change, and they did not appear to be very comfortable listening to what others had to say. Their members had been promised the opportunity to scream to the four winds their ignorance and hate. Instead, they were confronted with reason, facts and challenges to their anti-social behavior.
We wondered if the group would make use of this opportunity to engage in public debate. Perhaps they would try to learn the reasons that society has to charge its scientists with advancing medical knowledge and human health? Or maybe they would simply put forward their own challenges in front of us?
None of that happened. They already know that neither science nor ethics are on their side. Instead, the bullies decided to play the role of the victim — a fabrication that will likely be used to justify future abuses. They all stood in a line at the curb, quietly, opting not to engage in any shape or form, stopping only to pray (for the animals in laboratories, never for sick humans in hospitals) and to occasionally flash back a peace sign at us.
A peace sign?! Nobody will be fooled. These are not pacifists exercising their non-violent activism. Such egregious attempt at evoking any comparison with Gandhi is nothing but an additional insult to anyone who has ever participated in serious social activism. Experts who are familiar with animal right extremism find their language and behavior more closely aligned with those of self-righteous, religious fanatics rather than those of progressive, social activists.
So make no mistake — Progress for Science and its members embrace the violence directed towards scientists from within the animal rights movement. The group knows very well that scientists across UC schools have been the subject of animal right extremism that included the firebombing of our homes and threats to our children. Their leader and founder of the group, Carol Glasser, has expressed nothing short of admiration for such criminals.
In the above YouTube video you can see what Carol Glasser had to say about violence from within the animal rights movement [Note: a previously edited version of this video has been removed as filmmaker Denis Hennelly claimed copyright of the video]:
Whatever we are doing as a movement is not working, it is not saving animal lives. I think it is a waste of our time to demonize people who put their own life, their own safety, their own health, and their own freedom at risk, because they can’t imagine another way to help the animals. It is total bullshit of us, to point a finger and demonize them.
In other words, if you cannot be creative enough about your activism go ahead and firebomb a house — she approves. She laters adds:
Nothing we do works. We are losing. The animals are losing. I don’t think anyone of us should be demonizing anyone else who is actually trying to save a life.
It is only the ignorance of their minds and the hate of their hearts that shields them from the truth: it is science and those that support it who save both human and animal lives. Not a coward in a ski mask blowing up cars and homes in the middle of the night. It is people like Jonas Salk who are the true heroes of our society. Only those armed with a corrupt moral theory could equate the work of a scientist who eradicated Polio form the face of the Earth to a Nazi doctor. In the opinion of these zealots, Jonas Salk, who used monkeys in his research, would have been a legitimate target of fire-bombing if he had been alive today.
So don’t be fooled by the misnomer.
Progress for Science is against Science… for only then one can explain their denial of overwhelming scientific consensus (92%) that the use of animals remains a vital part of medical research. Rejecting such strong consensus would be equivalent to rejecting similar ones on evolution or climate change.
Progress for Science is against Progress… for only then one can explain their refusal to acknowledge the clear medical benefits that have resulted from animal research for humans and animals alike, and the millions of lives saved.
Progress for Science is against compassion… for only then one can explain the lack of any moral concern for sick, fellow human beings, opting instead to blame these same patients for what they wrongly argue are mere lifestyle choices.
Progress for Science is entitled to its scientific ignorance and ethical bankruptcy. They have the right to embarrass themselves in public by publicizing their views. But they will no longer be allowed to harass and intimidate the UCLA community and our neighbors without a proper response from our community.
Today, we walk hand in hand.
Today, we are not alone.
Today, we are not afraid.
We shall overcome their hate and threats.
Note: My colleague David Jentsch offers his perspective on these events here.
A family portrait of animal right extremists: