Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Think of the Animals on Remembrance Day

In November 2013, I wrote a blog post called "Remembering the Animal Victims of War on Remembrance Day", in which I discussed some of the ways that animals have been used in warfare and are still used for modern-day military purposes. I also mentioned Animal Aid's purple poppy campaign, in which people could buy a purple poppy to wear alongside their red poppy on Remembrance Day.
With Remembrance Day 2015 coming up, I'd like to re-visit the issue of war's animal victims. To start with, you can read my 2013 post here: http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2013/11/remembering-animal-victims-of-war-on.html.
One part of that post, however, is no longer current-- namely, Animal Aid's purple poppy campaign. Animal Aid is now replacing the purple poppies with purple paw badges instead. Here the reasoning behind the switch, as stated on Animal Aid's website:

"Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler, explains a change of emphasis for our animal victims of war initiative.
When we at Animal Aid launched our purple poppy initiative – to commemorate the animal victims of war – no other organisation seemed to be addressing the issue. Our aim was to make it clear that animals used in warfare are indeed victims, not heroes. They do not give their lives; their lives are taken from them.
But too often the narrative promoted by the media has been one of animals as the valiant servants of people in violent conflict. This is precisely the opposite message to that which we intended. An equivalent situation would be if animal victims of laboratory research were to be presented as brave heroes in the service of human beings – with Animal Aid’s name attached to that idea. Having said that, many of our poppy sellers have worked extraordinarily hard and with great passion on this campaign. Certainly, our message, via their work, has to a degree got through. But the dominant narrative (animal victims of war are heroes who died for us) is so deeply embedded that only a huge effort (costly in every way) can uproot it and lay down something that will benefit the animals. We considered the massive-effort option but decided that Animal Aid’s finite resources are best used on other urgent, more productive campaigns.
We are, therefore, replacing the purple poppy with a purple paw badge that will commemorate all animal victims of human exploitation. It can be worn all year round – at special events or day to day. Rest assured that we will continue to promote our victims-not-heroes message every year in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday (but without the purple poppy), and we will continue to produce our Animals: the hidden victims of war booklet and other resources."

Although I really liked the idea of people wearing purple poppies on Remembrance Day (because it gives people a way to pay respect to animals on that solemn day in particular), I can understand why Animal Aid decided to switch. It's unacceptable to be giving people the message that animals volunteered to give their lives to help humans fight wars, and if that's the message that some people have been thinking after seeing the purple poppies, then maybe it does make sense for Animal Aid to switch to something else. Besides, the purple paw badge can be worn on any occasion-- it's not just for Remembrance Day-- and it is meant to commemorate not solely the animal victims of war, but all animals who are exploited by humans. However, the fact that it can be worn year-round is both a benefit and a problem; since it isn't specific to Remembrance Day, people might be less likely to talk about it, because it isn't for a special occasion. But the badge still does raise awareness about the exploitation of animals, and that's very important, so it's definitely worth buying a badge for yourself!
If you do order a purple paw badge, I commend you for making the effort to raise awareness for the animals. Just make sure to explain to people what the significance of the purple paw badge is-- that it is meant to commemorate the animal victims (not voluntary heroes!) of war.
You can check out Animal Aid's booklet, "Animals: the hidden victims of war", at http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/booklets/war.pdf. Perhaps consider printing it off your computer and handing out copies/leaving them out at school or work for people to take!

Summary of some things you can do to help:
  1. Order a Purple Paw Badge from Animal Aid and wear it! (You can see all available accessories at http://www.animalaidshop.org.uk/accessories.)
  2. Print out "Animals: the hidden victims of war" and distribute it!
  3. Write letters to the editor about the use of animals in warfare.
  4. Call in to radio talk shows on or around Remembrance Day to educate people on the animal victims of war.
  5. Do research on whether your country uses animals in the military. If it does, write to the people who are in charge of defence in your country to express your disgust with these practices.
  6. Tell people in your life about how animals were/are used in war.
  7. Post on social media to raise awareness for the Purple Paw Badge campaign!
This Remembrance Day, why not take some time to educate other people about the animal victims of war, and of other forms of human-caused exploitation?

Until next time!