Karen Davis recently wrote an long, bizarre review of Charles Patterson’s absurd book, Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust. Patterson’s book argues, as the title suggests, that human treatment of animals is akin to the Holocaust and, moreover, that human attitudes toward animals were, at least in part, responsible for the Holocaust.
Davis’ review takes a bizarre turn right off the bat when in the opening paragraph she writes,
Parallels between our treatment of nonhuman animals and humans considered to be less than human is what this harrowing book is about. To view such parallels as an insult to humankind merely illustrates its thesis.
This is, of course, a logical fallacy called begging the question. Questioning Davis’s absurd reasoning is hardly evidence that supports this thesis.
I have not read Eternal Treblinka, but from Davis’ lengthy description the book apparently argues that anytime the murder of human beings resembles the slaughter of animals, or language used to describe one is also used to describe the other, this proves that the two activities are intimately intertwined and perhaps even causally related.
Davis, for example, makes much of the role that Charles Davenport and the American Breeders Association played in promoting eugenics in the early 20th century United States. Of course this simply parallels a similar argument made by pro-life activists who note the role that abortion provider pioneer Margaret Sanger played in the eugenics movement. The fact that chicken researchers and abortion providers were involved in the eugenics movement at the beginning of the 20th century says nothing about the ethical position of those respective fields.
Davis, inevitably makes the comparison that all of this nonsense calls for — that, in the way they treated animals, Jews were no different from the Nazis. According to Davis,
It’s been said that if most people had direct contact with the animals they consume, vegetarianism would soar, but history has yet to support this hope. It isn’t just the Nazis who could see birds in the yard, slaughter them and eat them without a qualm, and in fact with euphoria. In this respect, the persecuted Jewish communities were no different than their persecutors.
. . .
Eternal Treblinka thus raises questions, and we long for answers. Why, in the words of Albert Kaplan, are the majority of Holocaust survivors “no more concerned about animals’ suffering than were the Germans concerned about Jews’ suffering?” . . . This is not to suggest that the Jewish community should be expected to rise above the rest of humankind, but that the Jewish response raises questions about our species no less than does Nazism.
That’s right folks — a Jewish family eating chicken for dinner is an act that raises ethical and moral questions comparable to those raised by the Holocaust.
UPC Review – Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust. Karen Davis, March 11, 2002, E-mail communication.