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Direct Action Everywhere’s campaign against Sanders ignores human rights in favor of publicity

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In the United States, we are living in a time that we never truly thought would happen during our lives, or ever again. Donald Trump, a noted racist, bigot, and enemy of the oppressed, is set to be the Republican Party’s candidate for the upcoming election year. This is no longer a joke, and is definitely not a drill. The United States, whether or not he is elected, is forever changed, as hateful bigots have come out of the woodwork from all corners of the country, newly empowered by his violent rhetoric. For this reason, I find it irresponsible and distasteful that a corner of the animal rights world has decided to use their power to raise angry hysteria against Bernie Sanders and the democratic party. We are all royally fucked here, folks, some more than others, and it’s a dangerous game to run a smear campaign.

On March 8th, Huffington Post Politics published a piece from Direct Action Everywhere members Zachary Groff and Jay Shooster called “Bernie Sanders, Animal Agribusiness Stooge?” It suggested that Bernie Sanders “can’t claim to fight for the vulnerable” because of congressional ties to animal agriculture. It’s apparent while reading the piece that DxE does not quite understand the gravity of the situation, or simply doesn’t care. Am I disappointed that Sanders is not a vegan, and does not outline ways in which veganism can prosper in the United States? Absolutely, and I’ve declared this publicly, so let’s get that truth out of the way. For me, taking down Trump and going with the best candidate available is the priority, no matter who the Democratic ticket holder is. We can’t afford anything short of a best effort on the part of the Democratic party. What I’m shocked by is this furious railing against a candidate who is imperfect, yet our best bet at keeping unfair and oppressive systems in check – or helping to begin the act of dismantling them.

Yes, Bernie Sanders supports animal agriculture, much like the vast majority of United States citizens and politicians. Sanders and those citizens are wrong, and their position is immoral and unethical. Unfortunately, this is the cultural norm, and our fuck-all two party system isn’t at all the kind of system that allows a viable candidate to stray too far off the beaten path. Sanders is not the communist revolutionary he is painted by the media to be, he’s a democratic socialist, and the path he walks on may be different from the status quo, yet it is bound to run parallel to it. To launch an attack on the Sanders campaign is a weak strategy for animal rights. It hardly qualifies as a strategy at all. How many US citizens can we convince to give a second thought to their meat-eating culture within the same conversation as Trump encouraging mobs and violence against people of color? The conversation clashes; nobody wants to hear it. People are literally concerned for their safety, for their lives.

“Friday evening Russell Simmons shocked Bernie Sanders fans, including us, by revoking his January endorsement of Bernie Sanders and endorsing Hillary Clinton instead. Jane Sanders, Bernie’s wife, recounted the conversation Simmons had about the endorsement, in which Simmons made clear that the endorsement depended on Bernie rejecting animal agriculture. The response? Americans like pork, beef, and bacon, so Bernie stands with farmers,” wrote the DxE representatives. How ironic, or rather, appalling is it, that they would use Russell Simmons as the opening example in their piece. Their lack of concern about Simmons, who is undoubtedly a corporate machine, turning around to support Hillary Clinton as his candidate of choice is laughable, as they are writing a piece on corporate ties. Hillary Clinton herself was a New York senator who received and gave the same kind of support to Big Ag that Sanders has, so why not go after her as well? Is she not also a “stooge,” or is she just less interesting?

The following from the op-ed is gold, and is indicative of exactly who we are dealing with when we talk about DxE. “As advocates for both human and animal rights, we have been extremely excited about the Sanders campaign. But for now, every time someone tells us that they #feelthebern, we think of the animals feeling the burn of hot irons searing their property status into their skin. We think of the millions of chickens burned alive in boiling water at the slaughterhouse each year.” That’s fine and fucking dandy, DxE, you’re allowed to feel exactly the way you want to feel. If you want to ignore the American plight under right wing extremism in favor of dramatic language to discredit Bernie Sanders, you go right ahead, but don’t wring your hands too hard when accusations of being naive, or more accusations of being racist through ignorance, are pointed in your direction. I don’t know why I ever expected any better.
The upcoming presidential election of 2016 is not child’s play. It makes absolutely no sense to single out Bernie Sanders when all candidates on the ticket support animal agriculture, no less when he is the only candidate with a truly progressive view on human rights. I’ve fucking had it with DxE’s publicity games at the expense of political dialogue, and their unwillingness to publicly stand up against a racist right wing regime. It’s not a game for millions of Americans whose safety would suffer with a Republican win – whose safety is already suffering – and for that reason, I will continue my unwavering support of the Sanders campaign.

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0 Comments
  • Nickolas

    Especially considering Bernie is the only viable candidate that wants to end animal ag subsidies so small organic farms can compete with huge industrial ones. Also imagine how much less meat Americans would eat if their beef costs tripled? Great article DxE is on a whole new level of stupid.

    • These days most small family farms are nevertheless factory farms, with hens living thousands to a shed. And in the video Dxe links to proclaiming is support for dairy subsidies, he is not talking about big farms vs small farms, just unqualified support for dairy industry subsidies. This from the candidate who leads with his opposition to corporate welfare and to his concern for the environment. And no, I don’t think the other candidates are better, I think animal advocates need to stop giving politicians a pass on our issues.

      • Nickolas

        NO one is giving him a pass. The article was pretty clear about that. The point is why would you support Hilary then? My vote goes to Clifton Roberts but if my vote has the power to help Sanders win over Hilary or Trump I’m voting Bernie hands down.

        • You may not be giving him a pass but it is not true to say that nobody is. People point to his 100% HSUS voting record, as if coming out against puppy mills makes up for unqualified support for the dairy industry and for hunting in national parks. That is indeed giving him a pass. And while Russell Simmons did say he was going to endorse Hilary Clinton, for whatever reason, Dxe certainly didn’t say that. As a full time committed animal advocate I am not going to publicly endorse any candidate who is not willing to stand for animals, and I appreciate Dxe’s letting animal advocates know that Bernie is not significantly better than others on our issues.

        • Jeff

          No one in DxE that I know of supports Clinton (and certainly not Trump or Cruz). The DxE article made clear that the authors actually support Sanders, and the three protesters who disrupted Sanders in Chicago also have said they support Sanders. But no candidate should be given a pass just because they’re the most progressive viable candidate, on animal rights or any other issue.

    • Jenna MIles

      DXE doesn’t support humane washing or spreading the myth of humane meat.

  • Abhijit Muduganti

    “Direct Action Everywhere’s campaign against Sanders ignores human rights in favor of publicity”

    Just like when Black Lives Matter disrupted democratic candidates?

    • Thank you @abhijitmuduganti:disqus! Animals desperately need people as committed and as strategic on their side as the brilliant gals who founded Black Lives Matter. I think Dxe gets it wrong some of the time but on the misguided animal people support for Sanders they are spot no.

    • Abhijit Muduganti

      Note: My only point was that a group disrupting the “most progressive” presidential candidate(s) doesn’t necessarily make them anti-human rights. Groups disrupt politicians for various reasons and it is mostly to get the agenda on the table rather than to take someone down. Before someone comes up with the claim that I am appropriating BLM, let me point out that I made no direct comparison between BLM and DxE nor did I equate different forms of oppression.

      It also needs to be pointed out that the same DxE chapter which disrupted Bernie’s event also crashed a Ted Cruz event. You actually wrote about the disruption just a day before you wrote this where you carefully avoided mentioning DxE’s name. Angry hysteria against the democratic party? I hardly think so.

      • The Liberated Vegan

        Before you claim that you’re not appropriating or making a direct comparison between DxE and BLM, let’s remember when you said –

        “Just like when Black Lives Matter disrupted democratic candidates?”

        Because that clearly is the comparison you’re making.

        • Abhijit Muduganti

          Really? How?
          My point: BLM disrupted Sanders and Clinton. That refutes the author’s claim that those who disrupt Sanders don’t care about human rights.

          Please tell me how that is a comparison between DxE and BLM. According to the author, anybody who disrupts Sanders is raising angry hysteria against him and the democratic party and doesn’t care about humans. That’s quite a ridiculous claim.

          • The Liberated Vegan

            Well, for example the core DxE folks have said BLM takes away the message from AR. While also they have the claimed human rights is a secondary issue because there are laws apparently to protect those.

          • Abhijit Muduganti

            I have never seen any “core DxE folks” say any of those things, but even if they did, what has that got anything to do with my point?

          • The Liberated Vegan

            The point is black lives do not matter to DxE. Human rights do not matter to vocal DxE members who have not experienced major abuse and oppression (they can only read about it) so it does not matter. If you haven’t seen many DxE members come out and say these things I’m not surprised because most members ignore them. Another of many examples was when they hijacked the legacy of the civil rights movement by comparing black activists being attacked with water hoses with themselves getting yelled at for burritos…

            So you think DxE must stop Bernie Sanders and elect Trump or Clinton instead?

            They supported Russell Simmons who endorsed Clinton so it looks like they endorse Clinton silently.

          • Jeff

            Many DxE activists (me for example) have actually been involved in Black Lives Matter protests. The activists who protested at Sanders’ event in Chicago also attended the major protest against Donald Trump a few days later. And how DARE you claim to know what DxE activists have or haven’t experienced in terms of abuse/oppression. Off the top of my head I can name half a dozen women in DxE who have experienced rape or major sexual harassment. Of course there are also people of color and gay people in DxE.

            It is utterly absurd to claim that citing a historical example where disruptive/civil disobedience tactics were successful (one of many we have discussed, including the women’s suffrage movement, the gay rights movement, the Occupy Wall St. movement, etc.) as an argument in favor of such tactics being used by the animal rights movement is “hijacking the legacy of the civil rights movement.”

            I don’t know of a single DxE activist who supports Clinton (and certainly not Trump). All three of the people who disrupted Sanders in Chicago as well as both of the authors of the Huffington Post piece have said that they support Sanders. And if anybody in DxE chooses to support a candidate other than Sanders as an individual, that’s their prerogative. DxE as an organization does not endorse or oppose political candidates; we oppose animal exploitation as a matter of principle and that is why we called Sanders out on his support for animal agriculture.

          • The Liberated Vegan

            First of all, I’m talking about a number of specific DxE activists I’ve seen talking about oppressions they did not experience; obviously that’s not in reference to people speaking to their own oppression. But maybe that’s part of your problem, if you can’t tell the difference.

            A number of DxE members have tokenized women, POC, and LGBTQ members and their struggles, not unlike you are doing here in an attempt to deny that behavior. How dare *you* use the oppression of others to back up your own interests.

          • Jeff

            Clearly you don’t know what “tokenizing” or “appropriating” are if you think that discussing the TACTICS of social movements on behalf of oppressed groups’ interests that helped them succeed, and suggesting that similar tactics can help the animal rights movement succeed because the same benefits of them likely exist, is an example of either of these things. Your view that this is the case is self-evidently ridiculous.

          • The Liberated Vegan

            Clearly it is you lacking understanding and completely missing the issue, oblivious to the accuracy with which you prove my points. But by all means- continue to mansplain and whitesplain away in the “self-evidently ridiculous” manner you do so well.

          • FeministAF

            I have to agree with The Liberated Vegan, Jeff It is also pretty evident from your other encounters with women of color, you seem to stalk their threads on social media.

            The only reason you respond is to “put them in their place” because you think you know what they have experienced.

          • Jenna MIles

            As an organizer, I have never gotten that idea. As a matter of fact, I feel they make a huge effort to include and collaborate with those movements, more than other organizations.
            We use the oppression of others to advance the cause of animal rights because like it or not, they are similar. It doesn’t mean animals are more important, it just means tey aren’t less important.

          • Jenna MIles

            No, individual activists of curse have their own opinions, but my guess is if they vote, they will vote for Bernie Sanders. It is simply protesting his spreading the ‘humane’ myth.

          • Jenna MIles

            You misunderstand. Human rights is not a secondary issue, but at least when a human rights violation takes place, it is recognized widely as being wrong. Animals are considered property. Animals are further away from freedom.

        • Jenna MIles

          While the organizations have different goals, although, really it is the same goal, freedom for all, they do se similar tactics.

    • Tina Fogg

      Hmmm, like when Sanders gave over his mic?

      • Abhijit Muduganti

        Yes.

  • Mr Anonymous

    Fucking idiots! Campaigning against the one guy who could actually initiate the much needed change this country needs. We’re not going to get this chance again in our lifetime. Stupid dumb asses don’t seem to realize their fueling the corporate candidates, both Dem and Repub who are ready to feed us to the lions, make life even more miserable for the majority than it already is. Clinton is only slightly more appealing than Trump and it isn’t by much. Guess this country will get what it deserves.

    • JonasSunshine

      Only gary can and has done that

    • Jeff

      DxE is not campaigning against Bernie Sanders at all, and has engaged in protests against Clinton, Cruz, and Christie as well as Sanders. The point is to get animal rights on the public agenda, not to oppose, or support, any particular candidate–although many DxE activists including the protesters and the authors of the article McGrath referenced have said they support Sanders, for his progressive stances on most other issues.

    • Jenna MIles

      It isn’t anti Bernie Sanders, just his support of so called ‘humane’ animal exploitation. many activists will probably vote for him in fact.

  • Are you aware that Bernie Sanders voted in favor of the hideous 2014 Sportsman’s Act, which would have opened up all federal land, including national parks, to hunting? Interestingly Ted Cruz (with his vegetarian wife and animal adoring daughters) voted against it. Thankfully it failed despite Bernie’s vote. You may have a host of other reasons for supporting Sanders but let’s not pretend he is good on animal issues. While proclaiming his distaste for corporate welfare and concern for the environment he makes exceptions for both when it comes to the dairy industry. I realize there are not currently other candidates who are particularly good on animal issues; that means we need to strongly encourage all of them to step up to the plate. But many advocates assume that because Bernie is progressive on other issues he will be good on ours, and they are wrong, and Dxe was right to call him and his supporters out on that. Animal advocates cannot keep giving politicians a pass on the issues that matter most to us.

    • DebRobinson1

      But that’s not what DxE did, and it doesn’t seem to be what you’re doing, unless you assume we Bernie supporters are idiots. I’m fully aware that he – like every other candidate for president – is not particularly strong on animal issues despite his 100% rating from HSUS, which at least puts him fairly high compared to the others. But he’s vastly stronger on human issues, and since there is no one significantly better on animal stuff, why wouldn’t I support the candidate who is better for humans? Piling on Bernie for this when no one is better on animal issues makes no sense at all.

      • I am most definitely not assuming that Bernie supporters are idiots! And you can certainly support a candidate who you think is the best for humans, if that is what drives you. While of course I too care about human issues, I feel strongly that animals desperately need people to be willing to put them first, not because they are more important than humans but because in this country and day and age they have it significantly worse than humans, and nobody is willing to put them first. Putting them first means putting pressure on all of the candidates to speak up for them. Dxe’s choice to focus in that piece on Bernie Sanders is surely because Bernie is the candidate who says he is against corporate welfare and for the environment. So it is reasonable to point to some inconsistency there, and also to hope that we might make some inroads with him. Because he is not worse than other candidates, focusing on him might not seem fair — just like it wasn’t fair when Black Lives Matter went after him. But animals need people who will advocate for them the way that Black Lives Matter advocates for their cause, and not worry about whether we are being unfair to a candidate who is pretty bad on animal issues but not worse than others.

      • Jeff

        Characterizing DxE calling out Sanders as well as every other Presidential candidate for their support for animal agriculture as “piling on Bernie” is what makes no sense at all.

  • JonasSunshine

    Gary johnson does not. Support animal ag

  • JonasSunshine

    Sanders kills children wirh his MIC votes too not juat the slavery rape and murder of sentient beings in animal ag

    • The Liberated Vegan

      Hello can you speak proper English? I know DxE likes to defend themselves with gibberish, but this is a non-DxE space

  • Melodie Kraft Ashley

    Hitler was a vegetarian. Just saying.

    • veg

      Nope…. He was NOT

    • veg

      Who cares if he was? (He wasn’t but who cares?) even if he had been, it has nothing to do with the ethos of veganism/vegetarianism. You run into this argument all the time if you are vegan and atheist. It is a way for people to feel at ease with their own cognitive dissonance. There are good and bad vegetarians, good and bad atheists, and good and bad religious people.

    • Jenna MIles

      Hitler wasn’t in fact a vegetarian, certainly not vegan. he only claimed to be to appear more self sacrificing. He did reduce meat consumption to aid his flatulence. But who cares? I know no vegan or vegetarian who in any way supports Hitler.
      Hitler actually banned vegetarian societies BTW. He also compared Jewish people to rats and claimed this justified their abuse. Hardly the words of someone who loves animals, not that the comparison is true. Apart from all living beings feel pain and suffer.

  • Jenna MIles

    Completely misunderstanding the point of the disruptions. They aren’t anti Bernie sanders, they are anti animal agriculture. Bernie Sanders supports animal ag. Probably many of the activists will vote for him, because he is the best choice. But they disrupt most of the presidential candidates. it is because Sanders is so progressive that he must not ignore farmed animals.

  • Mary Davis

    Why would they target Bernie out of Hilary and Trump?

  • Vanessa

    The group disrupting the most progressive candidate does not help the cause. Clinton accepts donations from dictatorships. AND she eats meat. She’s in Monsanto’s pocket too. HELLOOOO!!! How is endorsing Clinton helping your cause?

  • Vanessa

    Seriously, I am a grassroots activist 100%. I have done plenty of this kind of work, and the kind of sh*t those kids pulled at the Oakland rally, rushing Sanders because he doesn’t tell everyone they have to be vegan, it turns people off. I have friends with small farms. They raise goats and chickens. Those animals are happy as hell. They are like pets. And I eat the sh*t out of those eggs! I LOVE ’em – there is nothing better! I appreciate your drive to end animal cruelty, but it is possible to have a balance. Sorry, but I will never be vegan, and the goats whose milk I drink still love me just the same. PS, if you drive a car or use any petroleum-based products of any kind, you are supporting oil extraction practices that cause widespread natural habitat destruction which results in wide scale deaths and injury of wild animals, and even the extinction of whole species. Just look at what happened in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, and it is still spewing out oil. So unless you are a monk meditating on some mountain somewhere, you are more than likely a part of the destructive machine. So, are you with CLINTON who takes big oil money too and SUPPORTS FRACKING, or are you going to endorse SANDERS with the HOLISTIC APPROACH who is trying to improve living conditions across the board for people as well as animals. Cares about the environment. Seriously, you guys, please use discernment when picking your battles.

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