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