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Fw: Sea Shepherd's Press Release to Divide the Movement

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  • Lindy Greene
    The below is my personal opinion, only. I feel it necessary to post this, because only selected individuals chosen by certain people have been privy to some of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 22, 2005
      The below is my personal opinion, only. I feel it necessary to post this, because only selected individuals chosen by certain people have been privy to some of this information--and I believe that if our movement is going to continue to get stronger, we must allow everyone in the animal liberation community to understand what a selected few are putting out there.   
      A Press Release was sent out to the media a week ago by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and Paul Watson, denouncing Dr. Vlasak's support of violence such as that used in other sociopolitical struggles--from the fight against Apartheid to that against slavery. 
      The SSCS press release talks about Watson's "crew," who went out on the ice floes to confront the seal killers-- but never once mentioned that is was Dr. Vlasak who took one of the blows to his face to preserve the footage of the hunt thugs clubbing seals to death.
      Nor did the press release mention that it was Dr. Vlasak who acted as the defense attorney for the five SSCS crew members who appeared before the Magistrate and convinced the latter to allow the crew to be released from custody. But it did discuss how Dr. Vlasak was removed as a board director by SSCS for his views.
      I understand the SSCS and Paul Watson's desire to distance themselves as much as possible from the views of Dr. Vlasak, but to do so in such a public way by sending out a press release to the media plays right into the hands of those in government who have destroyed other movements by "divide and conquer" tactics.
      Dr. Vlasak has spent his adult life saving the lives of humans involved in horrific auto accidents; immigrants severely injured by farm equipment; and those involved in shootings and stabbings, most having no medical insurance. He simply believes that not only the ALF, but also other more militant underground animal groups are needed to win animal liberation. These more "militant tactics" are the same tactics espoused by Nelson Mandela, Emily Davison, Malcolm X, Caesar Chavez, and others--but it seems that SSCS and Paul Watson can't distance themselves fast enough from someone who states his support of the same tactics on behalf of animals! 
      Instead of simply refraining from commenting, like other leaders of the animal rights movement have done, SSCS has chosen to imply to the media that they are the "good guys" and Dr. Vlasak is the "bad guy." Well, it doesn't change what Dr. Vlasak believes or supports. What it does do, however, is feed into the opposition's lust for division in our movement--which hurts no one more than ourselves and the animals we are fighting to liberate.     
      Moving on to Alex Hershaft's denunciation of Dr. Vlasak and requesting that 60 Minutes print a retraction regarding Dr. Vlasak's comments, I would like to state that in both Senate hearings and the 60 Minutes piece, Dr.Vlasak was not representing the ALF.  In these two unique circumstances, they wanted to speak to Dr. Vlasak directly regarding beliefs held by many in our movement today. These people believe that non-human animals have the same moral standing as humans. The Senators and the 60 Minutes producers simply couldn't believe that Dr. Vlasak--not just a physician, but also a surgeon--supports the same methods used in other struggles to fight against human genocide. Such strategies are indeed deemed morally justified when fighting against human torture and genocide. Neither could they believe that such a point of view was not coming from a young activist with piercings who works at Virgin Records, but rather an older professional. 
      When Dr. Vlasak agreed to speak before the Senate, some in the movement criticized him for doing so. Dr. Steven Best had the opportunity to speak in front of the same Senate committee three months earlier regarding the ALF, but he declined to do so. No one criticized Dr. Best's decision NOT to speak to the Senate about the animals and the ALF; yet some are quick to criticize Dr. Vlasak's decision to do so. Dr. Vlasak felt that an opportunity to get the message out about the horrors going on in laboratories was worth being put on the "hot seat" and ridiculed for his beliefs and opinions. It took courage to do so and, whether or not others agreed with this decision or what he said, he did this with the best of intentions and answered their questions honestly. 
      It was truly a momentous occasion to have someone in this country speak in front of the Senate EPW committee, with HLS executives in the audience and right next to Dr. Vlasak; to listen to him describe some of the most vile and horrific animal experiments; and to hear him tell them that animal experimentation does nothing to solve human health problems. This was groundbreaking!  
      Unfortunately, because of Dr. Vlasak's statements to the Senate and then on 60 Minutes, a few (not many, thank goodness) inside the movement began to criticize him. A couple of people even began to launch personal attacks against him and the North American Animal Liberation Press Office (www.animalliberationpressoffice.org). 
      This has led Dr. Best to resign from the Press Office, leaving him free to concentrate on things like CALA and writing books, at which he is so talented. We must all endeavor to do what we are best at and feel most comfortable with, and I wish Dr. Best luck with all his future endeavors.  
      As NAALPO Press Officers, Dr. Vlasak, Camille Hankins, and Angie Metler speak to the media about ALF actions--as well as more militant underground animal liberation actions. I believe they do so with professionalism and dignity. Each and every time the Press Officers are interviewed, they educate journalists about the ALF and its guidelines (if it concerns an ALF action) and answer questions about other groups' actions (i.e.. the bombing at Chiron and the stave attack on Brian Cass). Because the Press Officers are older and certainly don't fit the image of animal rights activists held by many in this country, the Press Office has been able to fill an important niche that is very necessary for a movement such as ours. 
      Since the new North American Animal Liberation Press Office was formed almost exactly a year ago, the Press Officers have done hundreds of interviews with a mainstream media thirsty to get the other side of the story regarding the philosophy and history behind underground animal liberation actions. We ought to be thankful that Dr. Vlasak, Camille Hankins, and Angi Metler are willing to take the heat and give their time and energy serving as such acritical "spoke" in the animal liberation "wheel."    
      This is an extremely important time in our movement; the bench mark has been moved once again, just as it was moved when the first arson took place on behalf of animal liberation in this country. When Rod Coronado had the courage to move an earlier "bench mark" by engaging in arson on behalf of our animal brothers and sisters, many in the movement--including some leaders at the time--said that he was hurting the movement and denounced the actions. With Dr. Vlasak stating publicly what many in the animal rights movement have said privately (even those who are now critical of Dr. Vlasak) that political violence would be morally justified on behalf of animal liberation, the "bench mark" has been moved again. This makes not only the opposition, but apparently also a few so-called "leaders" within our movement quite nervous. 
      In closing, I believe that at this time our movement should be especially vigilant and not allow anyone within or outside to use "divide and conquer" techniques, which will simply end up hurting our struggle for animal liberation. Our forefathers fought and died for us to be able to have freedom of speech, and the biggest slap in the face to those who are free speech advocates  is to denounce or criticize Dr. Vlasak's right to state his own opinion when asked directly by those interviewing him. I believe that those critics are frantically trying to protect their own interests--i.e., donor dollars.     
      Whether or not you agree with the views held by Dr. Vlasak (as well as many others in this movement who are simply too afraid to state them publicly), it's important NOT to resort to publicly denouncing others who are fighting in their own way for animal liberation. I will always remember reading about how, during the fight for women's suffrage, it was other WOMEN who spit in the faces of protesting suffragettes. It's enough for the opposition to be beating up on us--let's not beat up on each other! This is especially salient with resepct to the mainstream media. 
      Thanks for listening...
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