Opinion Essay by Ryan Ritchie
It took me less than a minute to find a picture of South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace standing behind a dead fish. The shot was posted July 25 on Facebook and shows the recently elected United States Representative smiling as she looks into the camera standing behind what moments earlier was a sentient being.
This photograph matters because it proves Mace is a hypocrite, the kind who bends rules for political gain. We shouldn’t be surprised. She’s a politician.
Mace isn’t alone. The hashtag “ArrestFauci” trended Sunday on Twitter after multiple media outlets reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health provided a grant to a Tunisian lab where dogs were reportedly tortured and killed — some had their vocal cords removed so they wouldn’t bark during the testing. According to some outlets, the supposed research involved injecting beagles with parasites that cause diseases.
If you are like Mace and the thought of dogs being tortured bothers you — good. It should. But where is Mace’s consistency? Why is she smiling in a picture of a dead fish yet killing dogs is an act that caused her and 23 colleagues to pen a letter to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases? That fish didn’t want to be pulled from the water to sit for a photograph just like those beagles never volunteered to participate in something posing as scientific experimentation.
The answer to those questions is, of course, money. Specifically, the fact that American taxpayer dollars were spent to fund this supposed “research.”
Mace is correct. No government and no person should ever torture animals. The countless others who made “ArrestFauci” trend are also correct. If the allegations are true, Fauci should face serious consequences if he knew animals would be tortured (and if he didn’t know? That’s an equally serious offense.)
But Mace, her 23 colleagues and anyone else who made “ArrestFauci” trend have some explaining to do. What did Mace, her colleagues and those social media users have for Sunday breakfast? And for lunch? A snack? Dinner?
I’d love to think everyone involved in “ArrestFauci” is vegan, but they’re not. I know this because I’ve been vegan for approximately 18 years (vegetarian since Thanksgiving 1997) and can count on both hands — not including the thumbs — the amount of ethical plant-based eaters I consider close friends. I know plenty of pescatarians, vegetarians and whatever-atarians, but the number of people who intentionally forgo animal products because they know (emphasis on “know”) animal cruelty in all of its heinous forms is wrong is infinitesimal.
For years, research has suggested that one percent of the world’s population is vegan. It’s a start, but imagine would what happen if everyone upset about Fauci’s allegations today woke tomorrow and eschewed all animal products forever. Imagine if those same people tweeted about the well-known brands in their cabinets, dresser drawers and linen closets (do people still have those?) that do the exact horrible thing about which they are tweeting in regard to Fauci.
One good thing about “ArrestFauci” is that the hashtag has created a discussion regarding an often-overlooked part of the animal rights conversation. Last week Los Angeles Times ran eight stories about fake meats and how they are changing what’s on our plates. I’ve yet to find a vegan who doesn’t ethically support these food innovations, but anyone who tweeted “ArrestFauci” should be as upset about Clearasil, Clinique, Clorox and Comet are tested on animals — and that’s just a portion of the “C” category from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ “Beauty Without Bunnies” website — as they are about Fauci.
You want more? Try Kiehl’s, L’Oreál, Listerine, Pine-Sol, Prada, Revlon and Swiffer. And there are, sadly, plenty of other recognizable brands that do what Fauci is accused of doing.
This argument isn’t a what-aboutism. Instead, let’s ask ourselves how some people can get so upset when dogs are tortured yet days later sit in a too-long-for-fast-food In-N-Out Burger drive-thru. If you’re mad about Fauci and the dogs, be mad about all animal suffering. Tweet about the horrific ways in which cows, chickens, fish, pigs and other living creatures are exploited for human consumption, “enjoyment” and science. Look at Mace’s fish photo and stare into the dead eyes. Now look down at your plate and envision the eyes that used to be attached to whatever you’re calling a meal.
If you’re one of those people, it’s time to face a harsh reality — animal cruelty is always wrong. The good news is that you have an opportunity to stop engaging in deadly acts. Animal testing should bother you enough to take to social media and post about the horrors, but don’t be a hypocrite. There is a way to avoid these products. That way?
- Ryan Ritchie is a writer from Lomita, CA. His work has been published in Rolling Stone, Vice and Los Angeles Times. He went vegetarian on Thanksgiving 1997 and has been vegan for approximately 18 years. Follow him at https://twitter.com/RyanLRitchie