The following is an open letter from a victim of animal rights extremism. It was sent to a Los Angeles Times journalist in an effort to draw his attention to the problem. The letter was never published. Her family, not connected to animal research, was the mistaken target of the Animal Liberation Front attack on a UCLA scientist (ALF’s claim of responsibility here). Her personal account of the story, written only days after the firebombing, makes it very clear how close animal right extremists came to hurting human beings in their pursuit of their political goals. These is the kind “direct action” celebrated by animal rights fanatics that demonstrate at the homes of UCLA scientists. The truth is, as the writer notes, that this nothing short of terrorism. For fear of retaliation from animal rights extremists, the author wishes to remain anonymous.
An open letter to those who support violence in the name of animal rights
For those of you who support violence because you are tired of waiting for the rest of us to accept your views, how exactly are your actions going to convince us to care more about the rights of non-human animals?
Three days ago, at 4 o‘clock in the morning, someone poured gasoline over my car (on the gas tank side) and set it on fire. It was parked in the driveway one foot away from my house, under a tree. We don’t know if this was done in the name of animal rights, but after looking at websites and learning of similar actions taken against researchers and innocent bystanders, it is a reasonable guess. My family is connected to UCLA, although none of us have anything to do with scientific research, other than having benefitted from life-saving medications and surgeries in the past.
The sound of the exploding burning tire woke my neighbors, two of whom acted quickly to prevent the worst from happening. My two cars are total losses, my neighbors’ two cars are damaged, and a neighborhood is terrorized. The ripples of fear and outrage spread far beyond our street, to our families, friends and colleagues at work.
What might have happened? Without quick action by my neighbors, the gas tank in my car could have exploded, killing or maiming my teenage daughter sleeping 15 feet away. She has been a vegetarian since age 8, as are many of her friends, since they grew up watching “The Simpsons’ and wanted to be like Lisa Simpson who is smart, vegetarian, a saxophone player who challenges authority. A roommate closer to the driveway would have suffered the same fate. It was 4 in the morning; we were all sleeping. This is ‘attempted murder’ not just ‘property damage’. Someone tried to kill us.
Maybe you don’t care at all about the human side of this story. You might classify the horrors that could have happened in my family as ‘collateral damage’ the same callous way our government labels civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. How does that kind of thinking advance the cause of the animal rights movement? After all, you are trying to influence other human beings to change their ways and care about the rights of animals, correct? This doesn’t seem the optimal way to win hearts and minds. Your approach seems more like ‘destroy the village to save it’ as our government practiced in Viet Nam in the 1960s and 70s.
Maybe you care only about animals. Did the persons who firebombed my car know about my rescued house rabbit, Samsonita, sleeping in my house 25 feet from the car, who lives cage free in her own room? Did they know about my cat, Ethel, who worked hard every night in the neighborhood to find rats and mice to lovingly bring them inside to share with me in the middle of the night?
Some of the animal rights websites claim that they are part of a proud tradition of liberation movements. There are quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, and claims of being the ‘Underground Railway’ for animals. But the violent harassment of medical researchers is more like the terror practiced by the Ku Klux Klan, who burned crosses in front of the homes of African Americans who dared to act as if they were free and equal to whites. These kinds of tactics were used not by civil rights activists but by their opponents, and any claim of a moral relationship to that history by violent animal rights advocates is obscene.
I ask you to reconsider your support for violence in the name of your cause, animal rights. Please think about other kinds of terrorism we have experienced in recent years. How did you feel about the events of September 11th? Were you horrified, or did you think that everyone harmed, and all their friends and relatives, deserved what happened? What about the bus bombing in London, or the nightclub in Bali, the trains in Madrid, the slaughter in Mumbai? Do you support those actions, because the bombers believed in their cause, as you believe in yours? Or do you disagree with their approach?
Either way, if you believe it is ok to commit violence in the name of your cause and harm innocent sentient beings, how are you are different from those terrorists? Around the world, millions of people suffer from violence committed in the name of a cause, by government soldiers or rebels or saboteurs. How does this make the world a better place? How are you convincing other human beings to care more about the rights of animals by committing and applauding violence?