A fine annual American tradition took place today and once again animal lovers everywhere had the proverbial wool pulled over their eyes. Side note: for the record, animal-rights activists are against wool. In a seemingly heart-warming story, kindhearted, self-styled animal lovers are being fooled into thinking something good is happening when the opposite is true. This is a big problem for the 46 million turkeys forced to give their lives so Americans can celebrate theirs.
It’s the traditional fairy tale of the “Pardoning of the Turkey at the White House.” The beginnings of this tradition are in dispute, as no president is actually taking credit for this little jewel of a lie. As with all factory-farmed animals, the turkey lobby wants to trick you into looking at the magic wand while they tuck away the truth. The event is meant to make Americans feel good about how humane we are; such a nation of animal lovers! How truly compassionate people we are when even turkey lives mean so much to Americans that the president takes time out of his busy schedule to come to the White House steps, kids in tow, and make a production out of pardoning a turkey. Well, actually, two turkeys in case the first one drops dead unexpectedly. More on that later.There is even a motorcade for the lucky birds, complete with sunglass-wearing, wires-in-the-ears secret service agents who are actually actors paid by the National Turkey Foundation. The meaning of this act is truly pointless. For the president, the factory-farming lobby and Americans who prefer to believe their meat comes from a frozen section in the grocery store it’s a public relations stunt. For the turkey, well, not so much.
Depending on whom you ask, we can thank President Truman for this charade. However, the Truman people are backing away from the story saying that yes, Truman was gifted a turkey, but no, his plan was always to serve it up with a side of stuffing. Some historians say Abraham Lincoln pardoned the first turkey because his son Tad “took a liking to it” and so Honest Abe spared the turkey’s life. And in those days, it’s possible the pardoned turkey lived out the rest of his days on a beautiful country farm somewhere in Wisconsin; possibly even the same farm to which, according to your parents. all your missing pets where taken. Some of the turkeys were sent to Disneyland; but even The Mouse ran for cover–they no longer take turkeys from the White House. It’s a bad sign when even the local rodents don’t want a seat at the table.
Kennedy was the first to actually take advantage of the photo op and Reagan first used the word “pardon.” Prior to that, the word they used was “reprieve” which meant the turkey would not be killed for Thanksgiving, but would probably end up as someone’s Christmas dinner.
This year, President Obama seemed to get hip to the ruse when he quipped “It is a little puzzling that I do this every year,” That’s a good clue, Mr. President, After all, what happened to the one you pardoned last year, or the year before that, and so on and so forth. The truth is, even if the turkey is permanently pardoned and allowed to live the rest of his natural life out at Disneyland, it will be a life wracked with pain and illness, and a short one at that. So two turkeys are flown in because one could drop dead at an inopportune moment. They aren’t manufactured to live beyond November; they’re made to be slaughtered. These turkeys are fed an unnatural diet that causes them to become too fat to fly or even waddle. While their wild turkey cousins weigh an average of 18 pounds, factory-farmed turkeys grow to a whopping 35 pounds…far too heavy for their little turkey bones to support. According to the Humane Society of the United States, a wild turkey can live a nice, long, family-oriented life of 18 years. The non-wild variety lives just a few months; and not a very pleasant one at that.
In an article published in The Huffington Post, blogger and author Karen Dawn writes about rescuing a turkey and recalled a painful memory “As I sat on the grass, she hobbled over to me — hobbled because the ends of her toes had been cut off.” “De-toeing” is standard industry practice.
Vegetarians and vegans have nothing to feel sad about this Thanksgiving and can truly enjoy the holiday for what it is; a time to get together with family, forge old bonds, create new ones, heal old riffs and create new ones. But carnivores who were counting on the Pardoning of the Turkey to warm their hearts and make up a little bit for the cruelty inherent in eating turkeys may have to find another way to enjoy the holiday. I suggest Silk egg nog with a shot of Wild Turkey.
What do you think? Comments below.
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