The UK’s anti-terrorism police force has listed animal rights and environmental protection groups in the same category as Satanists, Jihadists, alt-rights groups etc comparing these groups to terrorists. The idea that Animal rights groups are dangerously deluded psychos is being pushed by the alt-right all over the world.
The latest addition to the UK’s list of ideologically extreme groups, unfortunately, may not surprise you. In an official document uncovered by the Guardian last week, the country’s anti-terrorism police force listed animal rights and environmental protection groups alongside alt-right groups, jihadists, and Extreme Satanists, explicitly warning against the dangerous behavior of consuming content related to “animal liberation.”
From a distance, it can be easy to look at the animal rights movement and call it extreme. But if all the police can see is angry farmers and activists in handcuffs, then they’re missing the point.
Why is an ideology that, at its core, practices pacifism so readily labeled a militant threat to society? And what kind of message are they sending to people in the UK, classifying peaceful activists alongside terrorists, Satanists, and extremists? In October of last year, a group of animal-focussed activists joined Extinction Rebellion—one of the groups named by the UK’s anti-terrorism police force—for a monthlong protest. During that time, the Rebels made three demands. First, governments must declare a climate and ecological emergency, then halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025. Finally, the Rebellion is calling for world governments to create a Citizens’ Assembly to lead discussions and decisions on climate and ecological justice.
Sounds peaceful enough, right? Well, they’re not the only advocates whose message is being misheard.
On the other side of the world, tensions between Australian farmers and animal rights activists made international headlines after the 2018 release of Dominion, a landmark documentary exposing the cruel realities of the factory farming industry. The documentary has remained a rallying cry for the animal rights movement, leading hundreds onto the Melbourne streets to commemorate the one year anniversary of the film’s release. Although the protests were nonviolent, the federal government quickly came to the defense of farmers, villainizing the activists involved.
Australian animal rights activist Joey Carbstrong is a leading voice within the British vegan movement. He, too, has routinely been accused of being aggressive or militant.
“I feel it’s absolutely insane that people who are concerned with the abuse and cruelty committed against other sentient members of our planet are put into the same category as those who are motivated by hate and violence,” he said.
At heart, animal advocates are peacemakers. Many quite literally wouldn’t hurt a fly. The real security risk is the factory farms themselves. Factory farming is a leading cause of climate breakdown, deforestation, ocean dead zones, river acidification, and mass species extinction. In fact, the only thing more dangerous than factory farming is our propensity to ignore, mistreat, or mislabel problems whose solutions feel out of reach.