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Rod Coronado on the Animal Liberation Movement

[nb: Rod Coronado is an environmental and animal rights activist, author, and former member of the Animal Liberation Front who recently appeared on CBS News 60 Minutes program with Animal Liberation Press Officer Dr. Jerry Vlasak, speaking out about the use of direct action on behalf of animal liberation. Fee free to post this elsewhere.]
Rod Coronado
Rod Coronado
Statement by Rod Coronado
November 18, 2005

This statement is in response to recent tremors once again felt in the animal rights movement related to our support, encouragement and explanations of illegal acts to save animal lives and homes.

While not all of us agree with the opinions and actions of groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front and Revolutionary Cells, the discussion of such groups actions and strategies is always worthy of respect as part of a healthy exchange of ideas and theories that is a hallmark of any legitimate movement endeavoring to keep pace with an ever increasing flood of animal abuse and environmental destruction. Attempts to discourage such discussions by privileged members of this country's ruling elite (be they white, male, middle-class, career paid staff, etc.) resembles too much the arguments put forth by the polite abolitionists societies of the 19th century when acts of human liberation and freedom violated the moral sensibilities and principles of such non-oppressed groups of self appointed individuals of others suffering.

No amount of discussion and questioning of our path towards the liberation of all oppressed individuals should ever be discouraged and never should those that promote it be chastised by others in the movement who claim to "know better". The opinions and views of some of our movement's most uncompromising voices for the Earth and animals has crept into the public mainstream's psyche only because people like Paul Watson, Ingrid Newkirk and Dave Forman were courageous enough to express them in times of unpopularity, often with the loudest criticisms from within our own ranks.

Discussions that include the rationale for using physical violence to achieve animal liberation are simply the practical and moral progression of a movement that must acknowledge its own double standards and hypocrisy when defending the lives of those we argue are morally equal to ourselves. The families of animals' and individuals themselves suffering in laboratories and fur farms are no less capable of feeling great sorrow and suffering than our own families if it were or own son's and daughter's being tortured be it in Huntington Life Sciences or U.S. controlled interrogation and torture centers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba.

If the animal rights movement in the privileged heart of America most responsible for such abuse truly believes in equal rights for all species as I surely do, discussions of tactics that include physical violence cannot be ignored. Limiting or preventing any discussion while others debate the best mode of resistance to the suffering of others is a betrayal to those we claim to represent and a betrayal to the heroic spirit of resistance that was emblazoned by John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, the French Resistance and the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto who all advocated the use of arms to achieve liberation.

To think that our struggle is any different is naVve and a failure to recognize the true identity of the animals' and our own oppressor as being the same evil force that has blanketed our beautiful planet with war and violence long enough.
Recent discoveries of U.S. sponsored torture centers in Iraq where victims had their skin partially removed should remind us that the Earth and animals' oppressors have repeatedly demonstrated zero capacity for compassion even for their own species. If nonviolent tactics do not put an end to such atrocities carried out in our name in our time, we are obligated as representatives of those suffering not only to abandon those tactics which have failed us, but also to explore other avenues of resistance which historically time and time again have proven to be what is necessary to stop such state-sponsored violence.

In closing, I respect and appreciate the views shared by people like Jerry Vlasak who are courageous enough to risk what this society has given them in order to speak out against the same society's duplicity respect for life. While not the principles of the ALF or ELF, I as an indigenous descendant of a family forced to defend themselves with armed struggle, cannot deny that now is an appropriate time to discuss such tactics.

I've always battled with my own hypocrisy, for if it was my own son in the clutches of HLS or some other corporate or governmental death chamber, not only would I employ every means available to rescue them, but do whatever was necessary to ensure that those responsible were forever unable to commit such atrocities ever again.

For the Earth and Her Animal People,
Rod Coronado