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Examine Your Own Cultural Practices, Senator Cornyn

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

Senator John Cornyn told reporters it’s “no coincidence” COVID-19 originated in China, given “cultural practices there.” What cultural practices did the senator list?

“People eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that. These viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people, and that’s why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses.”

Looks like undisguised racism to me. Bird, fish, and mammal husbandry are all commonly carried out in Senator Cornyn’s country and all implicated in sickness transmission. Outside of making a case for veganism, who gets to call anyone out for animal use?

Just Because We Don’t Eat Dogs…

California’s law against dog and cat eating was a reaction to the killing of a puppy. No such ban came to the aid of calves, chicks, or piglets. Why give any form of confining and selling animals as food products a pass?

Indeed, why stop there? Why give the use of animals in entertainment or the pet industry a pass?

Can we decry dog eating, yet approve of the (largely western) practice of breeding pets, setting the stage for the killing of millions of these animals at pounds and in labs each year? Is our way substantially less barbaric? Or do we fancy ourselves more entitled?

And then there’s the U.S. export market of horse flesh to Europe. In this culture, say we love horses. But if we’d have the guts to look at reality, we’d admit we breed horses as commodities — to be used as long as buyers consider horse ownership convenient, and discarded when they don’t.

Still a Jungle

It should go without saying that the cultural practice of breeding, keeping, and butchering cows, rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs, fish and birds for market makes for dangerous and unsanitary conditions. Moreover, unspeakable human exploitation has, for centuries now, occurred in animal husbandry and the slaughterhouses. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle describes in great detail the way the U.S. system has, from the beginning, exploited immigrant workers. Many read the book, but how many have relinquished their personal and daily investment in the system?

It’s now dawning on customers  —  now that their own health could be at risk —  that there’s been no paid medical leave for workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle, Subway, Chick-fil-A, or other convenience-oriented meat and burger chains all this time.

So many wrongs, and for what? Products that not only put our health at risk, but endanger the future of the planet.

Senator, how about taking some time in self-isolation to confront your own cultural practices?

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Lee Hall holds an LL.M. in environmental law with a focus on climate change, and has taught law as an adjunct at Rutgers–Newark and at Widener–Delaware Law. Lee is an author, public speaker, and creator of the Studio for the Art of Animal Liberation on Patreon.

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