Several years ago, as one recalls, BBC World telecast a most interesting report on a demonstration in London arranged by dog-lovers. The said demonstration was to denounce the South Korean practice of eating dog meat. The timing was determined by the fact that the football World Cup Championship that year had South Korea as a co-host. The demonstrators wanted dog meat off the menus of the South Korean restaurants during the World Cup Championship and, presumably, beyond.
What was striking in the telecast was that the contrary views of pro-Korea persons were also presented. The latter were shown arguing that a clear distinction needed to be made between ‘pet dogs’ and ‘dog meat’ that happened to be an item of food for several nations in the region. Just because certain canines were reared and loved as pets in the West did not mean that ‘a source of food’ should be banned. They pointed to the practice in certain Western countries of eating such items as frog legs served as a delicacy. If Koreans and others considered dog meat as a delicacy, it related to their eating habits and ‘that was hardly the concern of outsiders’.
Over the centuries, man has so diversified his eating habits as to make it nothing short of bizarre. Much like ‘haute couture’, ‘haute cuisine’ too has developed its kinky facets. A lot of these relate to the way various species of animals are reared to conform to various culinary practices.
Let us face it; humankind has never been known as a particularly benign species. Even man’s treatment of his fellow beings is hardly anything to write home about. Man’s inhumanity to man is the stuff of legends; the much-vaunted concern for ‘human rights’ notwithstanding. To expect humankind to be kind and ‘humane’ to other species, therefore, is asking for a bit too much. The practice of mass production and mass slaughter of various species of animals for food has nothing ‘humane’ about it. To single out one particular animal as the victim of ‘cruel practice’ is hardly the fair thing to do. Either one speaks out for all animal victims of cruelty by humans or one looks the other way! There is no gray area in between.
The aforementioned line of reasoning does open up a classic argument related to the killing of animals whether for food or sport. As the demonstration against the serving of dog meat shows, attitude on this issue is nothing but biased. The argument would go something in the following manner: “I have every right to kill (or consequently be cruel to) any animal I choose to eat. But if you dare to kill an animal I hold dear, then you are crossing the line and have to be censured for it”.
Since the West has virtual monopoly over the international media, their viewpoint is all pervasive. Bull-fighting in Spain is acceptable, but a campaign has to be launched against the practice of performing bears in Asian countries. Performing animals in big international circuses are de rigueur, but the same in the bazaars of the East draw critical notice of animal-lovers in the West. The intention is not to be facetious but now and then one can hardly resist the temptation of pointing to the facts of life.
Hundreds of thousands human beings have been mowed down in recent history in the name of creating a new middle world order to suit the aspirations of the powers that be and their pampered Think-Tanks. Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq based as they were on untenable premises and justification have led to the loss of countless innocent lives and wanton destruction of ancient and peaceful human habitations all to no avail. And yet, instead of feeling remorse and atoning for their wanton ways, the powers that be continue to engage in more of the same. The once comparatively peaceful region has been thrown into a state of permanent turmoil just to satisfy the whims of a cabal whose rapacious ambitions know no bounds. The pity is that these untenable policies are being aided and abetted by certain elements within the region itself.
The twenty-first has oft been touted as the “Asian century”. And yet, vast areas of Asia are in a state of constant turmoil. It is easy to put the blame on ‘big powers’ and outside manipulators but the fact remains that the people of Asia themselves have not risen to set their own house in order and to claim the century that should rightfully be theirs. They have instead fallen into the trap of outsiders whose principal interest lies in furthering their own ‘way of life’ and, in the process, to continue to feather their own nests. The countries of Asia owe it to their peoples and, indeed, to their history and heritage to claim what is rightfully theirs and to tell the interfering do-gooders from the outside to mind their own business.
It may be time for the common people of the countries that constitute the Powers That Be to wake up to the realization that they too are being led up the garden path by their policy makers and Think-Tanks. They too have a duty to realize that thrusting their cherished ‘way of life’ down the throats of other peoples is essentially a self-defeating exercise that will lead them nowhere.
From the ‘animal rights’, as advocated by the animal-lovers of the West, to the quest for ‘human rights’ in the rest of the world is but one small step. The senseless killing of innocent human beings in various parts of the world, some in ethnic cleansing, others in ruthless suppression of struggles for fundamental rights and still others mowed down as colateral damage; all deserve the attention and condemnation of the ‘bleeding hearts’ of the West and elsewhere.
— The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.