Racism and Cecil: Making the Connection
The last time the Internet was ablaze with blogs, memes, and mass outrage, it was about Dylann Roof and the Charleston Church Shooting.
This time, it’s Cecil the lion, hunted and killed “for sport” by dentist Walter J. Palmer, and the New York Times is calling the outrage “Internet Vigilantism.”
In the animal rights and vegan communities, the backlash is a little different, as exemplified by memes depicting Cecil next to a factory farmed animal, and by this quote from Corinne DiLorenzo, founder of EARTH Sanctuary and Rescue:
“It is inconsistent at best, hypocritical at worst, to demand justice for the murder of one animal with a belly full of another.”
Climate Progress released a blog post about the science of why we are all so upset about Cecil – essentially because we tend to like charismatic megafauna. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel was choking up in a segment about Cecil, which I watched with great interest. It is a case of humanity and compassion shining through.
People have started to connect these last two incidents of mass outrage by asking why we care so much about Cecil and so little about black people. However, this is not the question we should be asking, because false dichotomies create animosity when what we need is common ground. The question is: can we connect the dots here?
The Charleston shooting, Cecil’s murder, the hate that the LGBT movement has faced in the past, the torture of animals in factory farms, and many other such atrocities are linked through one issue, summed up aptly by this quote from doctor and humanitarian, Paul Farmer:
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”
We must make the connection, as the recent anthology Circles of Compassion does, between the movements for human rights, black lives, women’s rights, LGBT rights, animal rights, and environmental protection – they emanate from the same source: a need to matter just as much as any other. A need for justice.
Once we learn that these movements are the same, we can unite and achieve a peaceful and loving future filled with community, collaboration, and compassion. It may sound utopic but such a future is possible with the right motivation and science-based tools; the LGBT movement has shown us what a unified movement and its victory can look like. It’s time to extend that victory not only to all humans, but to all species. Because all life matters. Just as love is love, life too, is life.
As Martin Luther King Jr. so famously said:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”