I don’t know what the hell was going on last week, but it sure seemed like a lot of animal advocates were trying their best to fawn over our racist, sexist, credibly-accused-of-rape president.
First, there was the signing of the PACT Act, a bill that originated in the House, passed the Senate unanimously, and had literally nothing to do with Donald Trump. While the new law does represent a step forward for animals by increasing the number of instances where animal cruelty will be considered a felony, it sadly also ignores 99 percent of the animal cruelty taking place in the United States.
Of course, you wouldn’t know that from the response of leaders in the animal protection movement, many of whom ran as quickly as they could to the White House for a photo op with Trump signing the bill.
Never mind that President Trump and his administration as a whole have truly been disastrous for animals. They’ve sought to gut the Endangered Species Act; they’ve reversed Obama-era policies banning trophies from big game hunts in Africa from entering the United States, and they’ve directed inspectors at the USDA not to cite criminal violations of animal welfare regulations. What’s more, the Trump White House worked to speed up slaughter lines for pigs and chickens, making a dire situation for farmed animals that much worse. The Trump administration’s record on animals is nothing short of abysmal.
But then there’s more, much more. There’s the way Trump treats people. His unabashed racism and racist rhetoric, his demonization of immigrants and “shit hole” countries, his attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, and of course, his serial sexual predation, which he’s been caught boasting about on tape.
In fact, Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by more than a dozen women. This made me particularly disappointed to see Kitty Block, the CEO and president of The Humane Society of the United States, front and center at the signing. I don’t mean to single her out, but she is the leader of the largest animal welfare organization in the world. Knowing HSUS’ shameful history with #MeToo, how could she?
But honestly, how could any of them?
As if this wasn’t enough, over the weekend news broke that nonprofit organization Million Dollar Vegan reached out to Donald Trump and offered to donate a million dollars to veterans if Trump agreed to go vegan for the month of January. This campaign, which hides its funders and uses kids as spokespeople, is so incredibly misguided I could barely believe it when I read about it.
Of all the people for vegans to partner with and celebrate, Donald Trump?? So, we’re cool partnering with racists now? We’re OK collaborating with men who brag about sexual assault? Appalling.
And the veterans angle? President Trump has not only insulted Gold Star Families and the memory of Senator John McCain, he’s also defrauded veterans’ organizations through the Trump Foundation. Is Million Dollar Vegan actually attempting to whitewash Trump’s disgraceful past by donating money in his name to veterans? Do they expect us to laud Trump if he takes them up on their offer? Shameful. And Trump is a self-proclaimed billionaire, shouldn’t he donate the money himself if he truly cares?
I’m sure not everyone will agree with me, but as vegans I believe we have an obligation not only to stand up against the oppression of animals, but oppression in all its forms. Praising or partnering with a racist, misogynist, homophobic bully – and one who has used his position as the President of the United States to harm animals – not only makes us look stupid, it diminishes the core values of veganism: kindness and compassion. Moving forward, let’s please do better. And when you see shit like this, call it out. I know I will.
Main image: Evan Vucci / Associated Press