Letter writer: The continuing holocaust of animals

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I would like to respond to Raymond Capelouto’s letter [“Holocaust Comparison Is Disturbing,” Oct. 5, Xpress] regarding [Miriam Hard’s] previous letter [“Slaughterhouse ‘Blues’ Is Shocking,” Sept 21, Xpress] regarding slaughterhouses. [In a Sept. 28 letter, “Why Invite a Slaughterhouse to Asheville?” Cynthia] Sampson pointed out that Israeli animal activists refer to slaughterhouses as “the Holocaust of the animals” …

In fact, many Jewish writers have compared the treatment of animals grown and killed for food in terms of holocaust. I urge Mr. Capelouto (and anyone who eats animals) to read Eternal Treblinka by Charles Patterson. The author is a historian who has researched and written on the German Holocaust extensively, and whose discovery of the treatment of animals we use for food led him to explore the connections between the German Holocaust and today’s holocaust of animals imprisoned and butchered for food.

The author dedicates his book to Isaac Bashevis Singer, a vegetarian, who made perhaps the first written observation that to animals “all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.” Singer also wrote that “there is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a la Hitler and concentration camps a la Stalin” and “All the nice talk about humanism, a better tomorrow, a beautiful future, has no meaning as long as people kill to eat or kill for pleasure.”

These remarks came from a man who had lost his mother, brother and other family members to the Holocaust. If anyone has the credibility to speak of a holocaust of animals, it is certainly Mr. Singer. (Incidentally, the urban myth that Hitler was a vegetarian is false; it was a fib intentionally propagated by Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, to show that Hitler was disciplined and strong.)

Webster’s dictionary states that the word “holocaust” means mass killing and is used in caps when referring to the Nazi Holocaust. What’s really interesting is that the  Greek word holokaustos, meaning burnt whole, was used by the early Jews who made a burnt offering of a goat or lamb as a sacrifice to God. So the root of this word actually does refer to killing an animal.

The imprisonment for life of animals killed for food is a holocaust that makes all the combined crimes of humanity against other humans pale in number. Read Eternal Treblinka, and you will discover the horrors, the fear and agony that the animals experience, and the cruelty that inspired Hitler. We are all animals, and to think it acceptable to torment and kill members of certain species, races, genders or religions but not others keeps us in a perpetual cycle of violence.

Ms. Sampson owes no one an apology. But Mr. Capelouto and everyone who participates in the holocaust of animals by eating them owe the animals an apology.

— Robbie Coleman


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35 thoughts on “Letter writer: The continuing holocaust of animals

    • dyfed

      That people in our city are persisting in this awful analogy shames us by association, and that they attempt to justify this ridiculous rhetoric by saying “but Jews do it too” is even worse.

      One wonders if the letter writer knows or understands that our omnivorous habits are, far from being genocidal, an utterly normal part of the natural world. Or does he forget that animals in the wild prey on those lower down the food chain? Animals see us as Nazis?! For one, we do exactly what they do! For another, no animal but the human animal is even capable of understanding the word genocide, let alone the word ‘Nazi.’ Let’s take a breath before we hyperventilate on this absurd rhetoric.

      There is and can be no moral equivalency between the system of organized husbandry and agriculture that has sustained our lives for millennia and the hateful, mad crusade to exterminate a people for no other reason than their existence—and to claim that there is, is not only delusional but barbaric.

      • think critically

        Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to humankind.
        –Albert Schweitzer

        • dyfed

          “You could compile, I should think, the worst book in the world entirely out of selecting passages from the best writers in the world.” — G.K. Chesterton

          “The best part about quoting a celebrity is that you can appear to be delivering words of authority without substantially addressing any of the arguments of your opponent.” — dyfed

  1. boatrocker

    False equivalency as not a single Jew was ever consumed for food under the Third Reich, and any animal slaughtered under an arguably gross factory farming system in our country is eaten and not simply gassed or incinerated, but yea, keep playing the Holocaust card.

    • think critically

      a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
      “an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies”
      a correspondence or partial similarity.
      “the syndrome is called deep dysgraphia because of its analogy to deep dyslexia”

      • boatrocker

        As in the false analogy that a Holocaust can be compared to eating meat as they are similar- again, a false comparison for Jews not being raised and eaten for meat and animals slaughtered for food are, well, actually eaten for food and not simply killed for wanting the world rid of them.

        Speaking with veggie types reminds me of trying to speak with any other religious fanatic- their mind is made up, and what a nice alternate reality it must be.

  2. NFB

    So I guess this make the coyotes who chased and caught a rabbit near my house recently is Hitler.

    • dyfed

      If we have a moral responsibility to ‘stop the killing of animals,’ does that mean we have a moral responsibility to kill off all the predators who are eating other animals alive?

      I wonder if this letter writer has ever seen nature in motion.

      • boatrocker

        Ahhhh, there’s the rub dyfed- somehow the idea that humans are put here to have dominion over all other animals ( a very Hebrew and Christian notion) always arises in print via allusion yet the idea of humans interacting with Nature by engaging in the Circle of Life (critters eating other critters ala a food chain) never can be discussed, as shhhhhhhhhh, PETA wouldn’t approve.

      • think critically

        No, of course we should not kill predators. Some animals are carnivorous and cannot exist without eating meat. We do not fall into that category; we can thrive without it. Besides, animals do all sorts of things that humans do not regard as morally appropriate. For example, dogs copulate and defecate in the street. Does that mean that we should follow their example?

        We try to justify our exploitation of animals by resting on our supposed “superiority.” And when our supposed “superiority” gets in the way of what we want to do, we suddenly portray ourselves as nothing more than another species of wild animal, as entitled as foxes to eat chickens.

        • dyfed

          You have made my point for me. That’s right; we are utterly different in kind than the animals. So far different, in fact, that we have ethical standards, which animals do not.

          Which is why it is impossible and ridiculous to compare the killing of non-sapient animals to the massacre of the Holocaust, where sapient men murdered others for reason of ideology.

          You can act as if men and animals are equivalent, in which case we cannot be held to an ethical standard that they cannot—or you can cling to your barbaric analogy. Pick one.

        • NFB


          In other words, humans have higher moral standards than animals? That’s just promoting speciesism.

        • boatrocker

          Actually, yes, humans are just another species of animals, and we use the same rules as the rest of Nature.
          Science? Biology? Food Chain? Circle of Life?

          Only religious fanatics rest upon the laurels of ‘humans as somehow better than any creepy crawly thing in the woods’.
          Specifically the Old Testament, used by 2 cults.

          Hence binocular vision (depth perception for hunting), incisors (for tearing meat), a longer gastrointestinal tract (for being able to digest both meat and plant matter) as well as molars (for grinding plant matter) and opposable thumbs for tool making in order to secure food, but yea, there’s room for all beliefs here. Ommmmmmmnivore.

          Nat’l Geo had an article years ago that postulated that primates walking on 2 legs was more of a mating ritual than anything- male primates by walking on 2 legs could present females gifts of both plant and meat (with their newly freed up hands) in return for you guessed it- sex! Dinner and a movie, Darwin style.

          I’ve heard human meat tastes like pork, aka the cannibals of the Pacific Rim calling human “long pork” for walking upright, but I have not testes that hypothesis. Yet.

          The Paleolithic diet still seems to make the most sense, huntin’ gatherin’, the least impact on your surroundings and for working 3 hrs a day tops that leaves a lot of time for, life.

          • boatrocker

            Oops! Tested, not testes. I gave up spell checking here a long time ago as most likely PETA has an app for the ‘ignore’ function once the word omnivore is used.

  3. boatrocker

    Furthermore, if one takes the Old Testament as an extended metaphor (it certainly isn’t fact after all), the parable of Cain and Able suggests
    that the Hebrew agriculturalists (Cain) massacred the older nomadic Semitic herder tribes (Able) in order to grab their land and turn it into farmland.
    If that’s not a Holocaust, I don’t know what is.

    Thus the Agricultural (counter) Revolution gave us land ownership, famine, overpopulation and war. Thanks, guys.

  4. boatrocker

    PS there are currently 3 ‘eating meat=Holocaust’ type letters online for the Mtn X site which begs the question-
    Do you guys publish any other letters to the editor for a myriad of issues facing this town or are you simply going with the tried and true adage of
    (ahem) journalism in this day and age of reality shows “Controversy= readership”?

    • Able Allen

      I can assure you, these letters are not pushing other letters out. We strive to publish every letter to the editor that we receive, as long as it is an ernest attempt to add to community discussion and dialogue.

      • dyfed

        I am not surprised that despite all the other issues that Asheville is dealing with, comparing agriculture to genocide is priority one.

        • boatrocker

          Even more ironic, Jesus, a Jew, was oft referred to as a shepherd, who by definition raised animals for their wool and meat.
          But I’m sure the next LTE will maintain Jesus was a vegan. Sigh.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            FYI, Jesus was a carpenter who referred to himself as a [b]spiritual[/b] shepherd. However, FWIW, it can be argued that he was required by law to eat meat one day a year, ie, Passover.

      • think critically

        Wow, now Boatrocker is blaming the Mountain Xpress for printing opinions that he does not agree with!!! Thanks, Xpress, for allowing people to speak freely, when others would prefer they be censored.

        The animal rights movement is growing. That’s how it works with all social justice movements, they grow and grow until they become mainstream thought. As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. I guess Boatrocker has moved on to stage 3, fighting by asking for censorship.

        • boatrocker

          Yea, ok, you got me- I want the LTEs censored. Witty as always- I asked if any other opinions about the myriad of pertinent issues in Asheville were in danger of being published. You know, like what happens when you don’t obsessively charge at windmills.

      • NFB

        “We strive to publish every letter to the editor that we receive, as long as it is an ernest attempt to add to community discussion and dialogue.”

        And how does equating a pepperoni pizza to Auschwitz ” add to community discussion and dialogue?”

        • Able Allen

          Just look at all these people talking about it. We aren’t going to begrudge someone their rhetoric when stating their firmly held opinion.

          • NFB

            “We aren’t going to begrudge someone their rhetoric when stating their firmly held opinion.”

            I’ll remember that the next time someone at MX deletes posts and lectures people here about civility.

          • Able Allen

            We don’t allow letters or comments that hurl insults instead of taking on the topic. Please see our terms of use.

          • NFB

            “We don’t allow letters or comments that hurl insults instead of taking on the topic.”

            So saying, or even strongly implying, that ominvores are Nazi’s participating in genocide isn’t an insult?

          • Able Allen

            I understand that you feel that the distinction between strong rhetoric about a practice or societal norm and an outright personal insult is too fine. Let me give you an example: If Person A says to Person B “you are Nazi for saying what you just said,” that’s likely to be an insult — unless person B had just talked about how much they support the ideals of the third reich. If Person A says “All members of Political Party B are basically racists contributing to a new Nazi regime,” that’s strong rhetoric — although I doubt it would be very effective in bringing people to Person A’s view.
            I hope this helps.

  5. think critically

    We can evolve. Just because something was once acceptable doesn’t mean we should embrace continuing to do it, or bring it back, or justify a certain behavior. Child labor, slavery, denying women the right to vote, not allowing people to marry the adult that they love because they are the same sex, etc., were all legal and common. Please consider the words of Dr. Peter Singer:

    “It is easy for us to criticize the prejudices of our grandfathers, from which our fathers freed themselves. It is more difficult to distance ourselves from our own views, so that we can dispassionately search for prejudices among the beliefs and values we hold.”

    What is animal slavery if not a form of prejudice? Just because animals are different doesn’t give us the right to enslave and kill them.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Animals have no right to exist Domesticated animals for the most part wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for humans raising them and protecting them from predators. When you start talking about animal rights, it becomes obvious that you are just trying to impose your religion on everyone else.

    • boatrocker

      Animals are not ‘different’. Humans (an animal) after evolving as omnivores follow the same rules as any other animal in Nature.
      The Food Chain being one of them.

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