Veganism Trumps All (and Other Reasons We’re Here)
It happens today, and though he may not have managed to find any great celebrities to be a part of his inauguration, Donald Trump will still end up becoming the next leader of what is, arguably, the strongest and scariest country in the world before the night ends. We’ve had months now to come to terms with this fact, and many people have taken that time to plan their protests and their coping strategies when the man who talked of dividing so many takes power thanks to bringing others together.
Of course, this isn’t how it was supposed to be leading up to November. The polls suggested another outcome, the media trumpeted said predictions, and some folks relaxed in their pantsuits as the history books seemed ready for a new note worth making: woman.
Instead, we got The Donald.
To say the shock was immediate was an understatement. If you were on social media during election night, it was a rollercoaster. If, like me, you woke up knowing the results first, then all you could do was cringe as Facebook fed you an assortment of your friends’ posts from all over the timeline. The excitement of the early evening as it seemed the country would take another step in a progressive direction, the nail biting as things took a bad turn, the assertion that what that man stood for couldn’t possibly win, and then the realization that it did just that.
Well, okay, maybe if the system was different (and it probably should be), he would have lost by a rather impressive number, but that part of history has yet to be written.
So, Trump won.
Not in My Backyard
And then, the denial came. Things couldn’t possibly be so bad in the United States that a man spewing hatred could win over the minds of so many citizens, could they? Depending on how closely you’ve been paying attention since that night, and the type of life you’ve been leading, it’s possible that you still have no idea how things went the way they did.
But the real trigger has been the shock. The absolute unpreparedness. The need to proclaim this astonishment and all but out yourself as having been blind and truly unbelieving of what we already done-told you was our reality — all whilst being down for the cause.
– On “Woke” White People Advertising their Shock that Racism just won a Presidency
Of course, for those who live in a world where racism, misogyny, sexism, threats of violence, and so many other forms of oppression are just common occurrences, there was no need to come to terms with the fact that a figure who seemed to represent so many facets of those things was now set to lead the place where they called “home”. For these people, this was just another day in Amerika.
Luckily, the shock that many are feeling is leading to some of those same people waking up to the reality that maybe things are as bad as others were saying. Better yet, those same people are now looking to get involved to try and get back the country they thought they had.
Is it too little, too late? That depends on who you talk with.
One Cause Fits All
For me, although I’m unsure just how much of the general population has been awaken by the nomination of not just another white man, but a really terrible white man, I’m hopeful that the years of Trump will at least cause change in various movements that have focused far too long on single issues.
Personally, I’m looking to the vegan/animal rights community to finally start considering more than just the voiceless, and, if you’re a veg person who is shocked by Trump’s win, I hope you’re also now working for the same changes.
Then again, you could still be reading this simply because you’re not even sure how the two are related. Either way, stay with me.
The problem is, I see a lot of similarities in Trump’s campaign activities and those of numerous organizations and people in our community. Just take your pick, and there’s examples on either side of the wall… err, fence:
- Objectification – Trump | Vegans
- Racism – Trump | Vegans
- “Us” vs. “them” – Trump | Vegans
- Fat shaming – Trump | Vegans
- Sexual assault – Trump | Vegans
- Outlandish claims – Trump | Vegans
- Threats of violence – Trump | Vegans
Of course, it would be one thing if these examples were rarities that were quickly dismissed or criticized by the majority of the community, but they typically are not. In fact, in many cases, they are approved and garner some of the biggest followings due to their ability to get attention. Not only that, but the popularity of the campaigns helps to encourage the prevalence of such things as sexism, racism, fat shaming, and more outside of the vegan/AR community as our public displays are seen as declarations of approval of such oppressive acts. If you don’t believe me, then consider how much violence has happened in Trump’s name, and think about that on a smaller scale with every PETA campaign that objectifies women and every YouTube video that fat shames meat eaters.
When these tactics are criticized, their vitriolic supporters go ALL CAPS. They become aggressive and threatening, desperate to protect their privileged approach as common sense while framing their critics as anti-vegan. Anyone that finds such an approach problematic is accused of not caring about animals, or told, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.” “Make veganism great again,” they seem to suggest.
Of course, as Corey Wrenn pointed out in her post “Why Trump Veganism Must Go“, when one takes to criticizing these tactics and those who use them, vegans are quick to defend the method.
Whether it’s the refusal to acknowledge how problematic something like Thug Kitchen is or the idolization of a white male with some highly problematic views (no, I’m not talking about Trump) because of all the supposed good he has done for the animals, far too many vegans are willing to give something or someone a pass as long as it’s “for the voiceless.”
Despite this, it’s important (maybe now more than ever) that we continue to speak out against the promotion or use of tactics that are divisive, offensive, and even dangerous to others. Along with this, we need to listen to those who criticize campaigns, speakers, popular figures, and more within the movement. Otherwise, our silence will only help to encourage campaigns and attitudes that possibly do more harm than good overall.
White people have never wholly accepted what happens to people of color in the United States. Let me be clear in the distinction: It is not a non-acceptance of the presence of people of color, but a non-acceptance of what happens to us.
– Denial Maintains Supremacy
Refusing to talk about race or any of the numerous other issues that intersect within veganism does not help the community, and it doesn’t help those who are trying to have those conversations. In fact, the only ones it helps are the people who wish for it to be ignored. If you’re willing to ignore the intersectional implications of these campaign tactics because their intent is to save animals, then how is that any different than those who voted for Trump because he promised more jobs and a greater America?
In many ways, it’s this narrow-minded view of the candidates that played a major role in Trump’s win, and those within the vegan community continue to promote such a concept when they respond with things like “I’m here for the animals, not the people” or “take your politics somewhere else, this is a vegan group!” By choosing to ignore the harm being done to people, we’re siding with those who actively seek harm to those people. It’s a strategy like this that led to supposedly well-meaning people who “aren’t racist” voting for a man supported by white nationalists. Even if they claim to be voting to “make America great again” and get jobs back into their impoverished communities, they’re still on the same side as those who called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”
Sure, they can brush the other stuff off as comments to entice the media, just like how too many vegans view PETA’s tactics, but what about those who see it as an approval of their own views? In the case of Trump, incidents have sprung up around the country. Although it’s hard to judge just how much of an influence a sexist vegan campaign may have, the fact of the matter is that it’s one more drop in a very big bucket that is slowly drowning many people, both within and outside of our immediate community.
So, as a man who supposedly doesn’t hold many of the key virtues of the United States of America takes control of the country today, instead of asking yourself how it is that we got here, I want you to ask yourself what can be done to get away from here.
Don’t do it just for the animals. Do it for everyone.