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Jewish World Review May 6, 2003 / 4 Iyar, 5763

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
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Consumer Reports

Burn families, barbecue chickens: why some can't tell the difference | It is of utmost importance to understand the roots of the latest project of the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), "The Holocaust on your plate," a campaign that morally equates killing chickens with the Holocaust.

When you do, you will also understand the roots of the moral chaos of our age.

How does a person, let alone hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people, come to equate killing chickens with murdering human beings? How does such a group raise millions of dollars each year from normal people? How can educated people believe that chickens "suffer" (as opposed to feel some primitive form of physical pain) in any way even remotely comparable to the self-aware, self-conscious, emotional human being? How does contemporary society produce these frightening idiots in such enormous numbers?

The most important reason is secularism. As G.K. Chesterton said about a hundred years ago: "When people stop believing in G-d, they don't believe in nothing, they believe in anything." Those prophetic words restated what the Psalmist wrote 2,500 years before: "Wisdom begins with fear of G-d."

No G-d, no wisdom.

The death of G-d-based values is the major reason for the moral wasteland known as the university, the one place where America is regarded as a villain and the U.N. as morally progressive; where male and female are regarded as subjective constructs, not naturally distinctive identities; where Fidel Castro is a hero and Palestinian terrorists are freedom fighters.

And secularism explains the widespread belief in the equivalence of people and animals. The breakdown of belief in the G-d of the Bible has led to the demise of the belief in the sanctity of human life. If human beings are not regarded as created in G-d's image, but only in the image of animals, there is no reason to regard human life as worth more than that of an animal, including chickens.

It is not a coincidence that no mainstream Jewish or Christian denomination, no matter how liberal, agrees with PETA's campaign or teaches its adherents that humans and animals are of equal worth. You have to enter the moral chaos of full-blown secularism to believe that people burned alive, slowly frozen to death, medically experimented on, stripped naked and machine gunned family-by-family, forced to watch their children burned, or slowly asphyxiated in gas chambers suffer no more than slaughtered chickens, and that both acts are morally identical. It is impossible to believe in any normative expression of Judeo-Christian values and believe this.

I first realized this 30 years ago, in my early 20s. I was seated on an airplane next to a woman who was having a vegetarian meal. After ascertaining that she was a vegetarian, I asked her why she was one.

"Because we have no right to take an animal's life. Who are we humans to think we are more valuable than animals?"

That was the first time I had ever heard such an idea, and I was dumbfounded.

"You don't really mean that, do you?" I asked. "After all, which would you save first, a human or an animal?"

I was certain that this was a rhetorical question. But to my amazement, no answer was forthcoming.

Finally, I said, "Did you hear my question?"

"I'm thinking," the woman responded. Those two words were an epiphany. I immediately suspected that this woman might not be an anomaly, but rather a perfectly normal product of a secular society. To confirm this, I decided to pose this question to others. For 30 years, I have asked high school seniors throughout America which they would save first, their dog or a stranger. In every instance (except some religious schools), one third have voted to save their dog, one third for the stranger, and one third just didn't know.

These students are now adults. Some of them work for PETA, and many of them support an organization that believes in the equivalent worth of humans and chickens.

The thing to understand is that this makes sense. When people stop believing in G-d, they believe in anything.

In the Muslim world today, we see the dangers of religious fanaticism. In the Western world we see the dangers of secular nihilism. America, with its unique blend of secular government and Judeo-Christian values, is in the middle. We better guard this unique blend. Or we will all be barbecued.

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JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.


04/25/03:Much talent, little wisdom
04/15/03: America the good
04/08/03: Dear Germany: Have you learned anything?
04/01/03: Saddam offered professorship at U.S. college
03/25/03: Grieve for Rachel Corrie's parents, but spare us the hagiography
03/18/03: Blame the Jews?
03/11/03: The Lone Ranger rides again
03/04/03: Dan and Saddam
02/26/03: Which will the world's future be: Muslim, European or American?
02/18/03: When have millions of Europeans ever been wrong?
02/11/03: Don't waste your money on an expensive college
02/04/03: What the world would like the president to say
01/28/03: How memories paralyze: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat, cont'd
01/21/03: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat
01/14/03: Why the Arab world hates America --- time to myth-bust
01/07/03: Conservatives have talk radio; liberals have everything else
12/31/02: If you believe that people are basically good . . .
12/17/02: Lott, Clinton, and the problem of the career politician
12/10/02: The healthiest and longest living generation of humans since the 900-year-olds of Genesis are being scared silly
12/04/02: Morally neutral reporting is dishonest reporting
11/26/02: Understand Nigeria and you understand the Islamic threat
11/19/02: James Bond meets his most fanatical foe yet -- anti-smokers
11/12/02: Conservatives need to be more compassionate on divorce
11/05/02: Of course, the great majority of Muslims are peaceful -- so what?
10/29/02: Nice guys finish first: Thoughts on the World Series
10/24/02: A Jew defends evangelical Christians
10/16/02: Bigot laureate well represents New Jersey
10/11/02: Why the Creator must always be higher than the Angels
10/02/02: Loudmouth "stars" are remaining surprisingly quiet about Israel
09/25/02: Bob Greene is a good man
09/11/02: 9-11 made America better
09/04/02: What I learned at the Minneapolis Metrodome about liberals and homosexuality
08/28/02: Teach our college co-eds about Islam --- but teach them the truth
08/14/02: How the nuclear family became "controversial"
08/07/02: Every generation is tested by great evil
07/31/02: Those who curse the Jews and those who bless them . . .
07/24/02: Children should talk to strangers
07/17/02: Why my son's best friend is black
07/11/02: Why Hesham Hadayet may be scarier than al Qaeda
07/03/02: "Pro-Israel lobby" is not why America supports Israel
06/26/02: Why does the Left support the "Palestinians"?
06/19/02: The commencement address I would give
06/12/02: Why do adult children live with their parents? Because they actually like them
06/05/02: The stripper and the Christian school: Thoughts on what a Christian school should do when a parent is a stripper and on who the biggest sinner here is
05/31/02: Don't worry, New York, you are safe from a terrorist threat
05/15/02: A proud member of the world's two most hated peoples
05/10/02: What Israelis are saying
05/06/02: Thank Heaven for moral violence
04/29/02: Give back the Nobel Peace Prize: A letter to Elie Wiesel
04/22/02: Why so many students cheat
04/12/02: Is it 1938 again for the Jews?
04/05/02: It's the values, stupid
01/31/02: Smoke and lose your son
10/30/01: Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis

© 2002, Creators Syndicate