Europe's Top Court Just Upheld an Attempt to Stifle Jewish and Muslim Life
On the surface, European bans on kosher and halal animal slaughter are about animal welfare. But dig just a little deeper, and you'll find something much uglier.
When is a debate about animal rights not really about animal rights? My latest:
This past month, in an attempt to suppress a new coronavirus mutation, Denmark killed all 17 million of its mink. I thought about this episode over the weekend, after Europe’s highest court opted to uphold several Belgian regional bans on kosher and halal animal slaughter, cutting off the only local source of meat for observant members of two faiths.
You see, six years ago, Denmark also banned kosher and halal slaughter for being cruel to animals—while continuing to be the world’s largest fur producer. That’s why they had all those mink in the first place. In this way, Denmark is emblematic of how “animal rights” is used as cover by Europe’s culturally Christian majority to persecute Muslim and Jewish minorities. The country was happy to express its deep and abiding concern for animal welfare, just as long as the price was paid by despised religious sects with no political or economic clout, and not by the rest of the population.
Belgium does not export mink, but it does engage in factory farming of everything from chickens to turkeys. These are actual industries that service the entire country. By contrast, there are only 30,000 Jews in Belgium’s population of 11.5 million, and approximately 570,000 Muslims. In other words, in practice, the country’s kosher and halal bans will not substantially protect the rights of animals so much as suppress the rights of Muslims and Jews. The policy asks nothing of the general population and will have no impact on their lives or food consumption. It just sends an ugly message insinuating that Jews and Muslims are uniquely depraved when it comes to animal rights, when in reality, they are just easy targets. While defenders of such efforts would like the debate to be about animal rights, even a cursory glance shows that it’s really about something else.
This is how anti-Semitism, among other bigotries, has often operated: as cost-free virtue signaling that enables the majority to claim that it cares about a moral problem, while scapegoating minorities for it and never sacrificing anything themselves.
Read the whole thing, which includes my dissection of the European court’s ruling, which conveniently exempts all non-Jewish and non-Muslim cultural practices and events (like bull-fighting) from its animal rights regulation.
As I detail, this sort of socially acceptable anti-Semitism that presents itself as high-minded moralism has a long history in Europe, and is no less insidious than the more obvious kinds. Again, please do read the whole piece, which also addresses what the United States can do about this problem.
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