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By Mickey Z
"If you don't want to be beaten, imprisoned, mutilated, killed, or tortured then you shouldn't condone such behavior towards anyone, be they human or not." --Moby
There I was, walking along 30th Ave. in Astoria, Queens. Just a few steps in front of me, two men and a little girl were strolling at a casual pace. The men, in their late 20s, were deep in conversation but one was clearly keeping an eye on the girl. She was no more than five-years-old but had a precocious and confident air that you could detect in a single glance.
As we all passed one of the many Italian delis that dot the Astoria landscape, the young gal looked to her left and then turned to one of the men.
"Dad," she said, giggling uncontrollably. "The sign on that store said 'We carry frozen snails.'"
With comic timing that would make any Vaudevillian drool, he replied: "I bet their hands are cold." (insert rimshot here) And dig this: his daughter got the pun. She was laughing her little head off the rest of the way down the block.
What she didn't get -- what so few of us get -- is how the tragic realities of the standard American diet are rendered invisible.
As I continued my way down 30th Ave., I saw a butcher standing in front of his shop -- chatting amiably with passersby -- his white frock stained deep red with blood.
He was casually standing there -- as he does every day -- drenched in the blood of a murdered creature but essentially nobody chose to notice the crimson splatter. Those that did notice, well, they didn't even flinch.
Behind the butcher, sheep carcasses hung from large hooks in the window... their bulging lifeless eyes seemed to stare accusingly at the butcher's back. He didn't appear to notice. Essentially nobody noticed and those that did, well, they didn't even flinch.
The next block brought me in contact with a fish store. Wet cardboard boxes filled with marine corpses piled in front... the street reeking of death. Beyond the stench, essentially nobody noticed and those that did, well, they didn't even flinch.
Looking into the fish store window, I saw a tiny aquarium tank. At least a dozen doomed lobsters were piled atop one another... their claws taped shut. Essentially nobody noticed and those that did, well, they didn't even flinch.
What happens when someone points all this out, refuses to participate, and urges others to do the same? You can be damn fuckin' sure plenty of folks will notice and, yeah... the flinching will begin in earnest.
Mic Check: We need more flinching, we need less denial, and we must make holistic connections.
"One thing to remember is to talk to the animals. If you do, they will talk back to you. But if you don't talk to the animals, they won't talk back to you, then you won't understand, and when you don't understand you will fear and when you fear you will destroy the animals, and if you destroy the animals, you will destroy yourself." --Chief Dan George
The correlation between animal rights and the Occupy movement is clear. The corporate powers-that-be manipulate and twist our minds in the name of profit and they're damn sure not gonna let animal abuse get in their avaricious way.
Mic Check: If the new wave of occupants and the old guard of animal rights activists join hands, well... the 99% becomes that much more unstoppable.
As I've said over and over, the system being challenged by OWS is built, in a major way, on the exploitation of non-human animals and the eco-system. It's all connected within a culture constructed on the premise of unlimited growth and it must all remain connected within a movement aiming for holistic justice.
If you're already working to dismantle corporate power, expand freedoms, and create a safer, more sane culture, you already have plenty in common with animal rights activists.
Why not take things even further and recognize that the mighty 99% also includes non-human animals -- and the entire ecosystem itself?
Mic Check: If you're in the New York City area, join us for an afternoon of solidarity at the Veggie Pride Parade event at Union Square Park on Sun., May 27. I'm the keynote speaker and I will be connecting animal rights activists with occupiers that day.
We are the 99%. Expect us. Join us...
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.