Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Green Opportunism: The Anti-Sealing Lobby

Green organizer quits over seal hunt opposition

Lori-Ann Martino, who was a candidate in Labrador riding in the 2004 federal election, says she cannot abide the party's opposition to a commercial seal hunt.

"This is a terrible strategy," said Martino, who feels the Green party is attempting to recruit voters who are morally opposed to the seal hunt but may not be informed about it.

"I have put so much work personally in distancing Newfoundland from that generic, stereotypical view [that] completely overrides the complexity of the issue ... and the economic importance and cultural importance of the hunt," Martino said.

Martino, though, said Green strategists hoping to appeal to new voters devised the initiative.

She said rank-and-file members she consulted did not support the decision.

"There was just such a disconnect between the membership and the leadership. And the Green party was never supposed to be about leaders," Martino said.

Harris said potential economic replacements for the seal hunt could include ecotourism.

Good on ya Martino. Jim Harris has placed the Green Party in the position of taking on a popular yet misguided opposition against Sealers. Martino is right it isn't about cute cuddly seals, thats incidental. Its about oddles and oddles of money that Green NGO's make off the seals so called plight.

Its about demonizing people in favour of animals. its about anthropomorphizing seals and dehumanizing sealers. Its about eco-racism, Inuit sealers are never attacked but Newfoundlanders are, cause they are Irish. The English colonial attitude about the stupid peasant Irish is reflected in the language and attitude of the anti-sealer movement.

I have taken the unpopular position of questioning the whole logic behind the anti-seal hunt protest last sealing season on my Red Between the Lines Blog.

I was influenced by a critical article on Greenpeace that appeared in the Fall 2004 Issue Of Labour/le Travail, The Canadian Labour History Journal, that I reccomend reading: Environmental Justice for Whom? Class, New Social Movements, and the Environment: A Case Study of Greenpeace Canada, 1971-2000 by John-Henry Harter.

It is rare that the left or labour or anyone identified as progressive criticizes the Real Politicks of the Green NGO movement. But here is an excellent article that shows how Greenpeace first aligned with the Sealers, then abandoned them on the ice so to speak by first supporting a limited hunt and then calling on their own for the ending of any hunt. Harter goes on to link this anti-worker attitude to the very nature and structure of Greenpeace and its subsequent attempts in the last few years to bust the union created by its own workers.

While the knee jerk reaction of Canadians and Americans, young and old, left or right, is to end the seal hunt this is neither sound social ecology nor real environmentalism.It is psuedo environmentalism created as a publicity ploy by GreenPeace many years ago to get their name known to the public. And it foucused on the cute cuddly seals while making the sealers into brutal sadistic Nazi like killers.

It all had to do with the success of the PR image they created around the cute big eyed seals. A subliminal image in the eye of the poor seal shows a sealer about to club it.

The success of this PR move led to the split between Paul Watson and Greenpeace, over their moving on to other issues, while Watson wanted to make the seal hunt their main focus. Thus Watson created the Sea Sheperd Society opposed to both Whaling and Sealing. Like Greenpeace he bought a boat and hit the high seas like Captain Ahab, for Paul his Moby Dick was the Whaling industry.

And there is a difference between these two sea marine mammals and their status as endangered species. Which is why focusing on one species that is not endangered perse, over one that is, blurs the lines between rational ecology from animal liberation.

And currently this issue is no longer about rational ecology or even environmentalism it has become a simple Animal Liberation cause celebre on one hand and a quick way to make bucks and get free publicity for Green NGO organizations like the Humane Society of North America. Who launch the same campaign year after year with little intention of changing the seal hunt, but cashing in on donations from the gullible.

The seal hunt in Canada this year was scandal ridden with a falsified news story sensationalizing the hunt in the Boston Globe.

The Boston Globe has retracted an article by a Halifax-based freelancer that described the opening day of the seal hunt. The article, by Halifax-based writer Barbara Stewart, was published Wednesday, and described vividly how on the preceding day "hunters on about 300 boats converged on ice floes, shooting harp seal cubs by the hundreds, as the ice and water turned red."

The story was untrue, a figment of the writers graphic imagination. But it sold to a liberal newspaper conditioned to see the seal hunt as bad. Greenpeace which had begun the campaign jointly with the sealers to reduce the quotas had abandoned them and went on the attack against them. The Seal hunt maybe the issue on the surface but beneath the surface the target has been the workers; the sealers.

This isn't an anti-sealing movement its an Anti-Sealer movement, and those in Newfoundland know it. Which is why Martio in all good conciousness could not continue in the Green Party where an Ontario based leadership made a decision based upon populist politics.

In the ROC we have been so innundated with this anti-sealer propaganda that every year like clockwork the campaigns rollout , the protests begin and the money flows in to the various Green NGO's. If people were so concerned about the sealers fate that money would flow to them to pay them to end the hunt.

During last seasons seal hunt a member of the Board of Wattson's Sea Sheperd Society sayed it was ok to kill sealers to stop the hunt. Dr. Vlasak was an outspoke Animial Rights activist who had already said it was ok to kill scientists who work on lab animals.

Vlasak was barred from entering the United Kingdom after he told a 2003 conference in the United States that he supports assassination of animal researchers as a means of stopping animal-based research.

"If these vivisectors were being targeted for assassination, and call it political assassination or what have you ... strictly from a fear and intimidation factor, that would be an effective tactic," Vlasak said at the time.

In an interview this week with the CBC, Vlasak did not back down from those remarks, and he said he also supported violence against sealers.

"Are these people comparable to people that chop up animals in laboratories just to further their academic careers? Yeah, I think they're all abhorrent in a certain way," he said.

Meanwhile, Vlasak – who did not back down from any of his previous comments about violence – has blasted CBC's coverage of his views.

He said his comments were not comprehensively reported by CBC, and that he was not speaking on behalf of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

"What an unethical breach of journalistic integrity," he wrote in an e-mail message, adding that he had repeatedly described the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a non-violent organization.

"I didn't expect much from a Newfie, but you have hit a new low for one-sided reporting," Vlasak wrote.

Watson himself was pressured to get rid of Vlasak, but that was not the only incident where violence against sealers was promoted by Watson. RCMP investigate death threats against a sealernd his family posted on the Sea Shepard Blog.

The CBC reported;
An April 2 posting on a blog on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's website identified Genge's name, mailing address, phone number and even the name of his wife. The RCMP are investigating the incident.

These are not just aborations from an otherwise socially conscious campaign, they show that the anti-sealing campaigners will stop at nothing to destroy the livilihoods of the sealers. After that you can expect them to pop into your neighbourhood to end the slaughter of inncocence in the meat packing plants.
Or the lobsters in your local resteraunt.

This is not about living with animals, the animal activists around Sea Shepard or PETA have one agenda, them or us. And in this case the them is animals and the us is well us. They want to impose their vegan, not vegetarian but the much more radical dietary restriction, morality on us. And after all if their tactics resemble shock troops, thats cause Adolph was a vegetarian too. One's dietary preferences do not a progressive social movement make.

And their opposition to the seal hunt is purely opportunist now, they will make millions of dollars doing it, funding their lifestyle activism, with little or no concern for the impact they have on the the people and their communities. Whether it is sealers in the Arctic, Norway, Greenland or Newfoundland.

In Watson's case what began as a campaign against the stupidity of Whaling has now become a campaign against fishing. Period. Like globe hopping anti-globaliztion spokespersons, Watson is a one man show, who pops up whereever he thinks an injustice is being done protests, gets busted, makes the news and leaves. With no consideration his actions have on the people or communities he disrupts. This isn't eco activism this is eco protest tourism.

After all as Vlasak said he doesn't much care for Newfies, nor does Greepeace or Paul Watson. They only care about using the seal hunt to publicize themselves to gain more money from the unsuspecting but sympathetic public.

As they go on another mission somewhere else in the world to disrupt another community. This is not eco-activism, this is not the long struggle of working with communities to evolve change. It is animal liberation at the cost of other animals, us. This is simply eco protest tourism.
Meanwhile, Watson's protest is over for this year. His ship the Farley Mowat passed by the seal hunt off the northeast coast of Newfoundland before heading to the Grand Banks to protest overfishing. The Farley Mowat has now left Canadian waters and is now sailing to Bermuda.


samwagar said...

Good for you, Eugene! It would be a treat if the animal rights types would use some brain rather than just viscera in their campaigns. I find PETA and the rest disgusting in their callous disregard of human beings, their ecological ignorance, their sentimentalism - hey, Le Pen the fascist leader in France is an animal lover, too.

Sure, animals deserve to be treated decently, there needs to be large areas set aside for habitat for endangered animals (and plants), and human beings will be happier when we live in touch with the natuural world, with mre animals and plants and less cocrete around us.

But that doesn't mean condemn subsistence hunters to starvation, or keep people from making a living off of the land by hunting animals that are not endangered. Hunting and killing is not intrinsically bad.

Anyhow, rant.



eugene plawiuk said...

Good morning Sam, thanks for the rant, it was as usual spot on. I await my blugeoning from the outraged Vegans and Animal Rites types....luckily they are so weak from their diets that all they can do is threatening me with a carrot. Organically grown.

ryan said...

Hey, no need to use the carrot. We can conserve the little energy we do have and let heart disease and other health problems threaten ya.

eugene plawiuk said...

Ah see no tolerance for alternative lifestyles to your own eh. Remember Avocados are full of fat. Race ya for the little nitro pills.

ryan said...

Heh, *you* were the one who expressing the intolerance. I was merely responding ridiculously.

Anyway, nice blog. I read it pretty much everyday.