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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Saturday Night Card Game ("Ideologies of White Supremacy" Responsible For Animal Cruelty)

This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:

The Michael Vick dog fighting story is well known:
A federal grand jury in Richmond indicted Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three other men yesterday on charges related to their alleged operation of a dogfighting ring based at a property Vick owns in southeastern Virginia.

Vick, one of the NFL's most exciting players, was charged with competitive dogfighting and conducting the venture across state lines. The 19-page indictment alleged Vick was highly involved in the operation, alleging that he attended fights and paid off bets when his dogs lost. It said he also was involved in the executions of dogs that did not perform well.
But the issue has been rekindled by a hyperbolic (and I assumed half-joking) statement by Tucker Carlson that Vick should have been executed, and by a statement by Princeton University Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry which appeared to blame Vick's treatment on the history of slavery, segregation and racism:

Prof. Harris-Perry's argument created quite a firestorm, because it is so obvious that Vick was not treated unfairly because of his race or any latent racism.  In fact, Vick has been given a second-chance at a pro football career and animal-rights redemption, which Vick appears to be using to good purpose.

So Prof. Harris-Perry has issued an explanation in which she doubled-down on the assertion that the history of racism is relevant to the Vicks conviction, accompanied by the PETA poster image at right (emphasis mine):

"Last year I was teaching an introductory politics course at Princeton University when a campus animal rights group brought to campus a fascinating and provocative exhibit that linked animal cruelty to human degradation, imprisonment and slavery. The images in the exhibit were part of a larger international PETA effort. They were disturbing, but also very powerful.

"Many African American students on campus were deeply offended, hurt and angry about the exhibit's comparison of animal suffering to the realities of the slave trade and lynching. The Organization of Black Students organized a protest and boycott. The campus animal rights group organized a teach-in. I had leaders from both student organizations in my class that semester. The tension, emotion, and analytic challenges raised by the exhibit became an important aspect of the class. A group of students even made a film about the issue for the final class project. As I sought to help guide my students through these interactions I opened up a new line of research on the politics of race and animal rights....

"When the abuse and oppression of an entire group of people is justified as acceptable because they are defined as animals, then it stands to reason the society is suggesting that abuse and oppression are acceptable ways to treat animals. Michael Vick committed horrendous acts of cruelty. I have had dogs as pets for my entire life. I am sickened by his actions. At the same time I recognize that he is one individual in a larger society that is profoundly complicit in the abuse and mistreatment of animals. Ideologies of white supremacy have particular culpability in that attitude toward animals because it was part of the governing ideology of slavery and segregation."
Personally, I think Prof. Harris-Perry simply dug herself a deeper hole. 

What we now consider animal cruelty takes place in many non-white cultures as well.  And the irony is that in the Vick case it was non-whites conducting the dog fights.  Animal cruelty is in no way unique or peculiar to "ideologies of white supremacy."

Michael Vick was prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned because he held dog-fighting contests on his property.  Period. 

Why Prof. Harris-Perry felt the need to turn the Vick conviction into a primer on the history of racism is beyond rational explanation.  I'm not sure it was the "race card," it may just be that Prof. Harris-Perry has a white-supremacy historical hammer, so every problem looks like a racism-nail.  (Wow, I think I really mangled the maxim, but you get the point.)

Let me put it differently.  Not everything bad that happens in this country has its roots in slavery and racism.  Sometimes a crime is just a crime.

And by the way, I too find the PETA poster offensive, just like many of Prof. Harris-Perry's students.

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  1. Slaves weren't considered animals, they were considered human property. That's not some tiny matter of semantics. I'd be very interested to see her produce examples of notable slavery advocates ever calling into question the presumption that slaves were human(I really doubt she can). I know she can't find laws declaring them such.
    The claim is all the more ridiculous as it relates to segregation.

    However distasteful we find the bigotries and prejudices of the past, its no excuse for misrepresenting what they were. History matters, the truth matters. Otherwise you're just debating fantasy. Its just as wrong to paint people and their beliefs as worse than they were as it is to sugarcoat them. If people are to be judged outside of their place and time for the things they did and believed, shouldn't we at least judge them on what they actually, you know, did and believed?

    The point isn't a defense of the past, its that its a very dangerous mistake that we on the right make when we allow the left to get away with false facts simply because the argument they support are so easily beaten. When those 'facts' are ceded, a false narrative is created, even as they lose the argument. Its part of how our entire history has been demonized, one exaggerated or bullshit set of 'facts' at a time.

    Her argument doesn't suck because it reaches a stupid conclusion (which it most certainly does), it sucks because she has to invent falsehoods to make it in the first place. Which seems about par for the course for a sizable majority of our current professional academics. That's what she needs to be ridiculed for.

  2. I agree with the Black students who were offended by the PETA literature. As a white woman I stand with them in their disgust.

    As for the sentiments offered by this Professor, well she has not convinced this foreigner that she knows her subject.

  3. Don't get me wrong I love animals but they are not people and you cannot equate the treatment of animals with people.

    I'd leave my dog with a bowl of food and water locked up in my house but I'd never leave my child that way.

  4. There are approximately 40 million black Americans. I know of only one who has been convicted of animal abuse. There are undoubtedly others, but it seems reasonable that more than 39 million black Americans have not committed animal abuse. That, I think, is rather convincing evidence that being a black American and, therefore, probably the descendant of a slave, does not cause one to commit animal abuse.

  5. The entire Vick episode is revolting. That he was given any chance again is testament to the fact that money triumphs over any form of depravity. It is proven that sociopathic and horrific treatment of animals is just one step away from treatment of humans. This is how sociopaths and serial killers begin.This wasn't a case of simply not feeding his dogs properly. This was out and out horror. What makes anyone think that Vick is not capable of treating humans the way he treated his dogs. What makes anyone think he wouldn't have substituted a human female in those rape stands for the dogs if he could have gotten away with it? That professor needs some help and anyone including the President of the US who thinks its great that Vick got a second chance is a moron first class. He should have been marginalized for the scum that he is and will always be.

  6. At least she didn't try the "it's part of his culture" defense; my response to that sort of thing is, "then that part of your culture needs to be changed."

    None of this excuses PETA's not unusual offensive hyperbole. They ran an ad campaign once equating chickens and Holocaust victims. Of course, a few years back the Palestinians loaded a donkey with explosives and sent it towards some Israelis and PETA objected--on grounds of cruelty to the donkey.

  7. Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry and several commenters here offer proof again - not that it's needed - when emotion walks in the door, logic flies out the window.

  8. Hey, why not title this "It's all whitey's fault!"

    More intellectual gymnastics to dodge one's personal responsibility.

  9. Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry seems to have missed a few key facts.

    Readers should take the time to go back and read the 2007 indictments and the plea deal of "Ookie" (Michael Vick) and his crew. They are all posted at the Smoking Gun (ht Matt LaBash, linked here.

    What made "Ookie" such a standout, was that he was the central character -- the guy who made it all possible because he owned the property in Virginia where his "Bad Newz Kennels" were located, bought or otherwise obtained the dogs, and literally financed the entire operation, all of which took place over a period of years!

    But Michael Vick was not just the money man who was calling the shots in that respect -- no, he also personally consulted in the murder of dogs who would not fight, or who fought poorly.

    Vick himself even personally participated in the killing of at least 6-8 dogs.

    And no second chances among 'em!

    From the indictment:

    . . .
    "83. In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK executed about 8 dogs that did not perform well at "testing" sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."
    . . . .

    Hanging . . . Gee, our Princeton professor seems to have failed to notice that whilst conjuring up her little tale of troubling connections of the Vick case to the history of slavery, segregation and racism!

    So, the methods used to murder those dogs were indeed unspeakably heinous, including (in addition to the above) the cruel electrocution of at least one dog in 2003 by co-defendant, "PEACE" after consulting with VICK.

    Again, from the indictment:

    . . .
    "53. In or about March of 2003, PEACE, after consulting with VICK about the losing female pit bull’s condition, executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal."
    . . . .

    In his plea deal, Vick further admitted that he directly and personally participated in several of the murders of the dogs.

    From the plea deal which he signed (see pp. 8 & 9):

    . . .
    "53. In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, VICK, and two others "rolled" or "tested" additional "Bad Newz Kennels" dogs by putting the dogs through fighting sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road to determine which animals were good fighters. PEACE, PHILLIPS, VICK agreed to the killing of approximately 6-8 dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road and all of those dogs were killed by various methods, including hanging and drowning. VICK agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK."
    . . . .