On January 27th, the world will observe the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Hitler's largest death camp.
A key question facing historians is how could an enlightened society that produced our civilization’s greatest philosophers, poets and composers also produce its most notorious mass murderers? How could it get millions of ordinary citizens to go along. Was the Holocaust a peculiarly German phenomenon or are other enlightened societies capable? Why are we Americans willing to subsidize unspeakable atrocities in our own factory farms and slaughterhouses?
Jewish Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer concluded that: “To the animals, all people are Nazis.” His message was that we are all capable of oppressing the more vulnerable sentient beings in our midst, frequently without giving it a second thought.
Indeed, our own enlightened society has translated the arbitrary Nazi dictum "the Christian lives, the Jew dies" into an equally arbitrary "the dog lives, the pig dies." Only the victims' names have been changed. The blissful ignorance of death camps and slaughterhouses in our midst remains.
On the long road to end all oppression our very first step must be to drop animals from our menus.