Love the Country, Hate the People

“Love the country, hate the people.” I heard that thought first put into words by Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson and I’ve never forgotten it—no doubt because I’ve so often shared that sentiment myself.

Captain Watson was referring to coastal New Brunswick, Canada (where he grew up) and the type of people who club seals to death without a second thought. I have had the same kind of reaction many times over the years I’ve spent living in rural America, especially this time of year when camo-clad, orange-vested A-holes troll up and down the roads hoping some hapless deer or elk will step out of the lush, verdant forest and into their kill zone.

I had another kind of love-the-country, hate-the-people moment just yesterday during a walk with my wife and our dog on a dike that doubles as a narrow road bordering a river when a small, rattletrap freight truck pulled out of the driveway at a neighbor’s property. Unaware of the insidious, horrific evil the occupants of the vehicle had just been involved in, I raised my hand in friendly greeting (hoping they might stop so I could tell them their rig was leaking oil profusely).

Never again will I give someone driving by the benefit of the doubt. They waved back exaggeratedly and wore overstated smirks that bordered on malevolent. As it turns out, I’m glad they kept on going. When they passed by we noticed the cartoon drawings of a happy cow and pig and the name of their business, “Patriot Packing,” that were hand-painted on the back of the truck.

We knew instantly what kind of vehicle it was—a mobile slaughter service. Travelling abattoirs are an increasingly popular method among ruralites for killing the cows they supposedly took great care in raising. My wife then remembered she had heard cows bellowing (like they do when their young are taken away) and the sound of a power saw, but hadn’t put two and two together.

Touted as a more humane alternative to factory farming and conventional slaughterhouses, the down-home practice of “growing” your own cows is deceitful and in its own way horrendously cruel—especially when herd mates are forced to bear witness to such butchery right in front of them in their own pasture.

Though it’s an accepted part of country living for people to embrace or personally partake in the butchering of animals, it can hardly be called a “way of life;” it’s more a way of death—a culture based on killing.

Holocaust survivor and founder of Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), Alex Hershaft, made this recent fitting statement:

“I see a striking parallel between the deceptive bucolic images of pigs cavorting in green meadows on Farmer John’s murals and the cynical inscription ‘Work makes you free’ over the gate to Auschwitz.

“And, I do see a striking parallel in the mindsets of both sets of oppressors: their self-image as upstanding members of their communities, their abject objectification of their victims, their callous use of cattle cars for transport, their continuous refinement of killing line technology, their preoccupation with record keeping and cost-effectiveness, their eagerness to hide and masquerade their horrendous deeds.”

Author Farley Mowat, another selfless Canadian animal advocate in league with Captain Paul Watson, ultimately came around to the “love the country, hate the people” sentiment in A Whale for the Killing. The 1972 book is an autobiographical account of Mowat’s moving to Newfoundland because of his love for the land and the sea, only to find himself at odds with herring fishermen who made sport of shooting at an 80-ton fin whale trapped in a lagoon by the tide. Although he had started off thinking folks around there were a quaint and pleasant lot, he grew increasingly bitter over the attitudes of so many of the locals who, in turn, resented him for “interfering” by trying to save the stranded leviathan.

Mowat writes, “My journal notes reflect my sense of bewilderment and loss. ‘…they’re essentially good people. I know that, but what sickens me is their simple failure to resist the impulse of savagery…they seem to be just as capable of being utterly loathsome as the bastards from the cities with their high-powered rifles and telescopic sights and their mindless compulsion to slaughter everything alive, from squirrels to elephants…I admired them so much because I saw them as a natural people, living in at least some degree of harmony with the natural world. Now they seem nauseatingly anxious to renounce all that and throw themselves into the stinking quagmire of our society which has perverted everything natural within itself, and is now busy destroying everything natural outside itself. How can they be so bloody stupid? How could I have been so bloody stupid?’”

Farley Mowat ends the chapter with another line I can well relate to: “I had withdrawn my compassion from them…now I bestowed it all upon the whale.”