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I Stand on the Side of Love

Photo taken by my son at a candlelight vigil in San Francisco in honor of the injured and dead of Charlottesville my family attended. We stand on the side of love.

Yesterday, I was tagged on Twitter and Facebook with a photograph taken in Charlottesville, VA, of Debi Day of No Kill Nation wearing a gun and asked whether or not she was the President of my non-profit organization. She is not.

I am the founder and Executive Director of the No Kill Advocacy Center, headquartered in California. Debi is the founder of No Kill Nation, located in Florida. We are two separate and distinct organizations.

No Kill Nation has donated to a variety of organizations that promote No Kill over the last decade, including the No Kill Advocacy Center. They have sponsored the national No Kill conference in Washington, D.C. which I organized and they have funded the documentary based on my book, Redemption: The No Kill Revolution in America. They are donations I have been very grateful for and because of their generosity, have publicly acknowledged on more than one occasion, no doubt leading to confusion as to our affiliation.

Every conversation I have ever had with Debi Day has focused on issues specifically relating to No Kill. I’ve never asked any donors what their views on other issues may be. In fact, my social life is quite separate and distinct from my professional life, so until yesterday when the photo surfaced, I, like many others who have received donations from No Kill Nation, was unacquainted with Debi’s political affiliations or interest in any issues beyond those relating to animals.

Historically, I have also tended to avoid expressing my own political views on this page in order to remain laser focused on the cause of animals and because, in seeking to pass animal protection legislation, I’ve worked with legislators of both political parties. But as the tragedy in Charlottesville is one that transcends all traditional political distinctions, going to the very core of morality and what should be our unequivocally shared American values of dignity, decency, and human rights, I am going to make an exception here so that there is no confusion as to where I stand.

I want to make it abundantly clear that though I support the ACLU’s position in defense of the First Amendment, I consider what happened in Charlottesville this weekend to be a very dark moment in our nation’s history, a tragedy that has shaken me to my core. The cruel and vile views of white supremacists on display and the violence against innocent people standing up to tyranny and hate are an anathema to every value I hold dear, and everything I have dedicated my life to: compassion, kindness, justice, and equality, not just for all humans, but for animals, too.

Both my wife and I mourned the death of Heather Heyer, the injury of 19 others, and the terrorizing of the people of Charlottesville by both white supremacists and armed militias. In fact, on Sunday night, my family attended a candlelight vigil in San Francisco in honor of the injured and dead.

These incidents and the events of the last eight months, have shaken our once stalwart optimism in an inevitable, brighter future for our country, and yes, our faith in our fellow human beings. It has pained me to see the extent of racism still so prevalent in our society and to witness anti-semitism on the rise and in such open, vulgar, and shameless embrace.

I don’t just say this because of family members lost in the Holocaust or because of an uncle who barely survived and was forced to endure the lifelong emotional scars and the tattoo upon his arm from his time in a concentration camp, but as a human being and as all human beings should. To believe and defend otherwise is is not just inhumane; it is inhuman.

Like many Americans, I increasingly feel like a stranger in a strange land, and my heart is breaking. And I condemn, unequivocally, anyone who sympathizes with or enables white supremacists, such as serving as an armed guard to the KKK and NeoNazis or terrorizing the people of Charlottesville by walking the streets of that city fully armed with a paramilitary organization. In light of these events, the No Kill Advocacy Center will no longer partner with, nor accept donations from, No Kill Nation or Debi Day.

Note: As this page is about the cause of animal rights, I want to add that it has also pained me to see the girders underlying our democracy and system of government, the very tools used so successfully by prior movements for greater justice – our free press, our civil liberties, our dedication to the equal application of justice and the rule of law and the very American belief that a better tomorrow for everyone is both desirable and possible – under siege at and by the highest levels of our government.

The tools of our democracy and what I thought were shared values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have allowed us, though admittedly in fits and starts and never with perfection, to work together to try and build a more perfect union. It was time to use those same tools and shared values for the benefit of animals, as well.

That we should devolve so openly into this is a terrible set back, not only because of the ugly, even dangerous consequences for my fellow Americans who do not meet the narrow and cruel litmus test of worthiness espoused by white supremacists, but at a time when it seemed that we can ride the momentum of other causes for social justice that have preceded ours and to use the same tools that they used, to further the rights and welfare of non-human animals as never before.


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