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Poultry Paranoia

Be Afraid! "It's Islamic supremacism on the march"

Everyone have a fulfilling Thanksgiving? Most people spent the holiday giving thanks, but Pamela Geller of the misleadingly named American Thinker decided to bake paranoia into the right-wing’s psyche. Geller complains that turkey producers like Butterball apparently slaughter their turkeys in accordance with the Islamic ritual halal.

Across this great country, on Thanksgiving tables nationwide, infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys to their families this Thursday. Turkeys that are halal certified — who wants that, especially on a day on which we are giving thanks to G-d for our freedom? I wouldn’t knowingly buy a halal turkey — would you? Halal turkey, slaughtered according to the rules of Islamic law, is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents: freedom and inclusiveness, neither of which are allowed for under that same Islamic law.

Geller serves her paranoia with lots of trimmings, but most of them merely garnish the bigoted main course. She spends some time disapproving of the unnecessary cruelty of halal slaughter. Of course, Geller doesn’t actually care how animals are treated. Kosher slaughter doesn’t bother Geller even though Kosher butchers never numb their animals (halal butchers often do to some extent). She even puts animal rights in sneer quotes signaling her apparent rejection of the concept. I’ll happily recant this particular criticism if Geller has previously wrote a single word in support of improving the treatment of farmed animals that wasn’t also in the service of criticizing liberals or muslims.

I believe I have some credibility criticizing her because I’ve complained about halal slaughter myself (here & here). Yet in the cornucopia of right-wing paranoia, liberals and animal rights activists would never attack a muslim practice.

Where are the PETA clowns and the ridiculous celebs who pose naked on giant billboards for PETA and “animal rights”? They would rather see people die of cancer or AIDS than see animals used in drug testing, but torturous and painful Islamic slaughter is OK.

Two seconds googling “PETA halal slaughter” turned up dozens of PETA articles protesting against the cruelty of halal. This willful ignorance reminds me of the right’s fantasies about the American Civil Liberties Union. Here’s Radley Balko on the “Where’s the ACLU?’ syndrome”:

In May, Matt Welch noted a storm of criticism from the right toward the ACLU for not defending some kids who were sent home from school for wearing shirts depicting the American flag to a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The problem was that the ACLU had intervened on the kids’ behalf. The conservative critics just didn’t bother to check.

If you care about animal welfare you’re right to object to the unnecessary cruelty of many religious or secular slaughter methods. But if you worry that a particular incantation recited over the butchered animal infringes on your freedom: you’re a sectarian crank.

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