Michael Shermer on animal use

Michael Shermer says:

I am… troubled by an analogy made by rights activists that animals  are undergoing a “holocaust.” Historian Charles Patterson draws the analogy in his 2002 book Eternal Treblinka, and [Mark] Devries makes visual reference to it [in his film Speciesism] by comparing the layout of factory-farm buildings to that of prisoner barracks at Auschwitz. The flaw in the analogy is in the motivation of the perpetrators. As someone who has written a book on the Holocaust (Denying History, University of California Press, revised edition, 2009), I see a vast moral gulf between farmers and Nazis. Even factory-farm corporate suits motivated by profits are still far down the moral ladder from Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler. There are no signs at factory farms reading “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

In 1961, Hannah Arendt wrote some articles for the New Yorker magazine on the trial of the Nazi officer, Adolf Eichmann. Those articles evolved into a book that was released two years later, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

In a 2006 introduction to a Penguin Classics edition of the book, Amos Elon says that:

The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined [Adolf] Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explodes our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial.

In the book itself, Hannah said the following:

The longer one listened to him [Adolf Eichmann], the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability… to think from the standpoint of somebody else.

…The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied — as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels — that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani [the enemy of humanity], commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong.

She concluded in The Life of the Mind, published after her death, that:

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.


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