We human beings are not humane. That a United States Senator could read a quote about the incredible suffering of animals raised in factory farms — in order to ridicule a witness whose appearance was cancelled — is illustrative to me of the baseness of mankind and the inherent cruelty of people. it is also illustrative of the cowardice of the Democrats in this farce, and yet one more indication that Samuel Alito will be confirmed, and probably without much of a fight. (I sure as hell didn’t see much of a fight from Feingold today. Only Schumer stuck it to him.)

Here is what happened to that witness, who tells his story in today’s Los Angeles Times:

I had been scheduled to testify as an expert on an organization called Concerned Alumni of Princeton. In 1985, on an application for a promotion in the Reagan Justice Department, Alito had touted his membership in CAP, which had opposed coeducation at Princeton and asked for strict quotas limiting the numbers of women and minorities at the university. Alito’s membership in the group thus could shed light on his respect for civil rights. […]

[I]t was an L.A. Times Op-Ed article I wrote. In “Animals Suffer a Perpetual Holocaust” (April 21, 2003), I defended People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for using a quote of my grandfather’s. Unlike me, my grandfather was a famous man, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who had escaped anti-Semitism in Europe in 1935 and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978.

My grandfather, a principled vegetarian, famously wrote: “In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis. For [them], it is an eternal Treblinka.” …

Let me pause here and tell you that — to vegetarians and vegans, and to all who fight to stop or at least ameliorate the suffering of animals — this is one of the most precious, meaningful quotes we know.

This is a photograph of a typical factory farm setting, where most of your meat comes from. Look at how a sow must lie. She cannot move. She cannot turn over. (Photo: HSUS) Think for a minute about how you’d feel — physically, no matter mentally — if you couldn’t even turn over or stand up. Is bacon worth this kind of suffering and sterile environment — particularly for pigs, which are more intelligent than dogs?

Stephen R. Dujac, the grandson of this great man, continues:

Three years ago, PETA built a campaign around that quote, but critics charged that the words were not really Isaac’s, only those of one of his characters. My Op-Ed article affirmed that from my personal knowledge Isaac felt that way — that the cattle-car reality of factory farming compared to the Holocaust. And I agreed with him. [..]

In the era of the search engine, no good (or bad) deed goes unpunished. Then again, perhaps I should take pride in being ridiculed by a U.S. senator, John Cornyn (R-Texas). “It seems like a little bit of desperation to call a witness whose only apparent expertise is in comparing meat-eaters to those who stood by during the Holocaust,” a Cornyn spokesman said. The Washington Times led with, “A free-lance reporter who compared the Holocaust to eating meat…. ” A right-wing blog gloated, “Latest Dem charge: Alito’s a carnivore.” I haven’t found an account from the right that mentioned Isaac or his quote.

As it turned out, hundreds of decent, honorable Holocaust victims and their families were deeply disturbed by the original essay, and I have apologized publicly for it — an apology I reiterate here. Sometimes using an extreme example to make a point is a bad idea. Sometimes a quote really doesn’t belong in a new context. Too bad my latest attackers don’t get it.

Most of you are meat-eaters, and that’s your business. I eat meat sometimes too. But I make damn sure it comes ONLY from small farms where the animals are treated humanely throughout their lives, are fed proper food without chemicals and hormones, and suffer the quickest-possible death.

I am in grief right now. I grieve that a U.S. Senator can use a heartfelt expression of the suffering of animals to attack a witness to Samuel Alito’s cold-hearted bigotry. And I am ashamed to be the member of a species that can so selfishly buy the products of intense, unremitting suffering with nary a concern because they like the taste too much.

Most of all, I am ashamed of myself. From this day forward, I will never eat meat again because to do otherwise is to give legitimacy to the inhumanity of people like Sen. John Cornyn. P.S. Meet your meat.

Below, more of Mr. Dujac’s op-ed:

Bill Bradley (Princeton, class of 1965), future Democratic senator, quit CAP in disgust within a year after it was founded in 1972. Bill Frist (class of ’74), future Republican Senate majority leader, publicly censured the organization. But CAP survived to become more anti-woman and anti-minority. In 1984, a year before Alito proudly proclaimed his membership, CAP’s magazine had published details of an underage female student’s sex life and named her, allegedly by mistake. A few issues before that, in a piece about blacks and Latinos, the magazine editorialized: “People nowadays just don’t seem to know their place.”

In response to questions about CAP, Alito has proclaimed his fealty to American principles of equality. But when he had a chance to make a real statement, back when CAP was spreading its poison, he boasted of being a member.

That’s the story that should have gotten its 15 minutes this week. But you won’t hear about it from me.

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