The Dreaded Comparison

By Spiegel, Marjorie | E Magazine, November-December 1995 | Go to article overview

The Dreaded Comparison


Spiegel, Marjorie, E Magazine


Ancient Egyptians, some African tribes, and other ancient and aboriginal cultures the world over have worshipped animals as gods and messengers to the gods. Native Americans adopted the names of admired animals and had spirit guides -- in animal form -- who would serve as teachers and escorts into the realm of the spirit world.

And yet in our culture, we view animals very differently. Are they mere automatons, insensible instinct machines going through the moves of life like wind-up toys? Are they soul-less inferior beings, put here to use? Both of these views have been staunchly advocated as certainties.

The experiences of nonhuman animals -- enslaved in innumerable ways by human beings -- can be compellingly linked to the experiences of black people in the pre-Civil War United States. The parallels between the enslavement of animals and humans are innumerable and exist on many levels; they are built around the same basic relationship between oppressor and oppressed, master and slave.

Such a structure required both philosophical and scientific underpinnings. The author of a racist 19th century theological tract declared, "All Scientific Investigation of the Subject Proves the Negro to Be An Ape." Other authors set up "black" and "beastly" as exact synonyms. Thomas Dixon, whose books are showpieces of Klan-derived fiction, titled some of his chapters, "The Black Peril," "A Thousand-Legged Beast" and "the Hunt for the Animal." The stock black man in his books "springs like a tiger," has the "black claws of a beast" and cuts a "bestial figure."

Blacks have been called by the names of various animals, including buck, fox, monkey, ape and coon. A modern lexicographer writes, under the heading of "raccoon," that, "In the South, hunting coons on moonlit nights has long been a favorite sport, their meat being roasted and eaten." She then notes that "coon" became a disparaging word for black people in the 19th century, even inspiring a song by Ernest Hogan: "All Coons Look Alike to Me." Runaway slaves were in fact hunted down with packs of dogs trained for that purpose.

The intentional, or sometimes simply thoughtless, destruction of relationships and families during the antebellum period were rationalized by the view held by most of the white slave-owners that black people were "just animals" who would quickly get over separation from a child or other loved one. In fact, antebellum racist thinkers denied that love among black slaves existed at all. They maintained that "animal lust" and "animal attraction" were responsible for intimate bonding between two slaves. When slaves were brought to auction, children were sold away from their mothers and husband from their wives. Women were bribed or punished into breeding often injuriously vast numbers of children, and permitted no semblance of family structure.

Similarly, in countless ways every day, humans destroy or deny emotional bonds in other animals. In the wild, we randomly shoot the mates of waterfowls, some of which pair for life. Often the surviving mate dies of starvation while mourning. We shoot mother primates in order to capture their infants for displays in zoos or for use in laboratories. We annually produce millions of animals, placed in isolated cages, to provide scientists with "sterile" animals who have never been allowed contact with another of their kind. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Dreaded Comparison
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.