Animal welfare activism or anti-Western, misanthropic impulse?

The following post is a critique of this recent column from Huffington Post Canada :

How Our Cultural Narcissism Is Killing The Planet

Posted: 03/28/2016 3:10 pm EDT Updated: 03/28/2016 5:59 pm EDT

DOLPHIN SELFIE

Like most reasonable people, I saw the killing of a dolphin by “selfie” seeking beach goers in Argentina as an ugly act of stupidity. Other than a general agreement on that basic premise, I found the rest of this recent column  from Huffington Post Canada contributor Laura Bridgeman to be riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies.

For instance, the author condemns humans for “anthropocentrism” while insisting we recognize ourselves as “part of nature”. Let’s set aside the fact that if humans are “part of nature”, then anything they do must also be “part of nature”. Regardless, it is hard to think of a more “natural” instinct than privileging your own species. Is there an example of “other-than-human animals” that put the interests of different species ahead of their own?

Perhaps some would be tempted to defend the author’s position by arguing that the human capacity for choosing between right and wrong, for conscience, reason, moral and ethical evaluation etc. puts a unique onus on humans to consider more than merely their natural impulse for self-interest. But wait… would that not indicate that humans are in fact ‘superior’ to other animals in certain very significant ways?

These qualities are hard to reconcile with the unambiguous belief of the author that animals are in fact superior to humans – a belief that is made clear by her deft substitution of the clumsy phrase “other-than-human animals” in the first half of her piece with the clumsy and misanthropic expression “more-than human” animals in the second half.

Weirdly, she sets up two distinct categories: humans who privilege their own interests on one side, and indigenous communities, cetaceans and the rest of the non-human animal world on the other. Exactly what species does she include indigenous people among?

Misanthropy and a fashionable loathing of Western civilization is embedded throughout this column. Anyone who is even mildly motivated by objectivity and common sense realizes that the only societies that places any emphasis on animal welfare whatsoever are those of the European-based, Western world.

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Michael Harris

Michael Harris is an oil painter, photographer, song writer and blogger from Toronto Canada. Michael's work is influenced by his interest in psychology, media, consciousness studies, politics and philosophy.

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