Thursday, July 19, 2007

To Rehabilitate the Culture(s) - Although it is hardly a preoccupation singular to blacks, it can be said with little fear of contradiction that dogfighting has embedded itself into the secret life of the black community. If the allegations contained in the indictment against Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick to be believed, his actions are reflective of attitudes that prevailed in America's inner cities during the 1980s, as pit bulls were often used as guard dogs for drug dealers and gang-bangers during that period. Vick's behavior is remarkably consistent with the lyrical metaphors and imagery conjured up by rappers as diverse as Snoop Dogg, Raekwon (see sample lyrics here) and DMX (who was arrested - perhaps not coincidentally - for animal cruelty and possession of drug paraphernalia after police found 13 pit bulls and six used crack pipes in his home in 1999) among others.

It is not entirely surprising that dogfighting would become a source of entertainment for blacks in the underclass, or more specifically, blacks with underclass cultural mores (even if they have upper-class bank accounts), as the "sport" has prevailed among the lower and middle classes of much of the Western world since the 12th Century. Historically, it was most prevalent in the United Kingdom, and was made popular in the United States with the importation of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the early 1800s. Doubtless, African slaves would have had at least some exposure to dogfights in the
agrarian South. Indeed, some of what we are observing presently may yet be another manifestation of what Dr. Thomas Sowell describes as the behavior of "black rednecks", or African Americans whose exposure to the culture of Southern whites during and after slavery has remained a significant impediment (as discussed elsewhere.)

As we might expect, animal rights groups have been justly indignant over the Vick situation.
The American Humane Association issued a press release calling on the NFL to "educate its players and staff that animal fighting is an illegal activity and that by gaining knowledge on the subject, they will be able to aid in preventing animal fighting in their own communities." Similarly, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said that as of Vick's indictment, "the NFL should not hesitate to suspend him." For his part, HSUS' John Goodwin commented "[t]here is a definite subculture of dogfighting within professional sports," adding "I think you've just seen the tip of the iceberg." ( readers were reminded of a similar situation involving former Portland Trail Blazers player Qyntel Woods' being charged for fighting his pit bull in 2004.)

It is surely beyond debate that animal cruelty is sick and wrong, and what Michael Vick allegedly did vis-a-vis the pit bulls found on his Virginia farms is reprehensible - as is the culture that shaped and informed his decision to engage in such activity. But there is another culture in need of repair; the eye-popping irony is that more than a few of those who are rightly troubled by the allegations against Vick would be willing to stand idly by were these same sorts of inhumanities committed against other humans. (See intra-bellum Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan....) The same persons and organizations such as PETA who wish to
"responsibly and proactively fight the war against poverty and injustice and against ignorance and cruelty" would leap out of their skins in rapture were America to unilaterally withdraw from Mesopotamia, never minding the barbarism that all informed observers agree would occur following our departure.

In as much as PETA's Ingrid Newkirk and others aver that "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy," the animal activist Left diminishes society's ability to make moral distinctions between man and animals. And even as cruelty to animals is an indicator of a person's propensity towards future cruelty to humans, an equalist mindset that equates the value of human life and that of animals increases the likelihood of violence against the former in defense of the later, thereby diminishing the value of both.

PETA has even gone so far as to fund violence against its enemies. In 1995, Americans for Medical Progress obtained tax records proving that PETA gave $3,500 to the Rodney Coronado Support Committee, an [Animal Liberation Front] offshoot that was named after a member who was convicted of firebombing a research facility at Michigan State University. Comparing the violent ALF to the Underground Railroad, PETA President Newkirk openly admitted to contributing to the defense funds of eco-terrorists.

Destructive as this behavior and rhetoric is, even more destructive is the impact their worldview has on society. Rather than elevating trees and animals to a place of sanctity, they have helped devalue human life to a worth no greater than that of the average lab rat. The brutality this breeds ensures that we will, in one way or another, end up resembling the animal kingdom: As poll after poll has shown, most animal rights activists take pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia stances — advocating nothing less than the killing off of the weakest members of the herd.
To be sure, if humans are not prepared to defend the lives of both animals and humans, while placing the appropriate value on each, we will lack the moral fortitude to confront existential challenges to either. Without the proper cultural foundations, all that we take for granted is at risk from without, and increasingly from within.

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