Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Roots of Anti-Racing Activism, Part 2

Part 2 of the article, The Roots of Anti-Racing Activism, which explores how anti-racing activism hurt the early years of greyhound adoption and how it hurts the breed.
Part 1   (If you missed it...)

By Dennis McKeon

Continuing our trip back into the roots of slash and burn, anti-racing activism, we have seen how hate-mongering, ignorance and demagoguery undermined early, formalized adoption, back when it was a novel concept. I’m sure that anti-racing activists felt that their ends justified the means, and that their inane jackrabbit crusade and profoundly despicable mis-characterizations of the greyhound were preferable to the death of thousands of crop-destroying vermin each year.

1930's Rabbit Plague, Kansas
However, once the great jackrabbit advocacy had resulted in significant successes, it essentially ran out of steam—there was a significant void that needed to be filled within the coffers of those activst organizations.

Greyhound racing management had proven to be pretty much entrenched in its own importance as a vital contributor to local and state economies. It boasted several thriving, individual fifedoms, all across, up and down the country. Blue collar workers within those fifedoms were universally kept busy 15-18 hours a day, taking care of the greyhounds in their charge. The anti-racing cabal members sensed yet another opportunity to enrich themselves .

But there was a slight problem to overcome. Since the public now believed that racing greyhounds were all unexploded time bombs of viciousness and of the most brutal and savage aggression imaginable, something had to be done to re-cast the greyhound. Since they had unabashedly and thoroughly demonized him, it was impossible for them to portray the greyhound as who he actually was. That being, a canine, like any other, but who happened to be a purpose bred athlete steeped in prehistoric antiquity—perfectly capable, in nearly all cases, of adapting to traditional pet roles in retirement. Apparently, there was no money in working hand in hand with those in the industry who had already demonstrated a sincere commitment to macro-scale adoption. No—-that would never do.

Greyhounds, Whippet, Farmer & Hare - c. 1890
A sensation needed to be created. The public must be made to forget entirely the centuries of oppression that greyhounds had heaped upon the poor jackrabbit, and the brutality that was thus engendered in the breed—–which only a few years ago, was sounded as a clarion call and warning to the unwitting public.

The greyhound as “oppressor” had to somehow become the greyhound as “victim”. He would undergo this metamorphosis in the media---changing almost overnight, from the “big, bad wolf” to a pathetic object of pity--- without a mention of who had villified him in the first instance, at the advent of his original coming out, and thus contributed to his further victimization.

The villains in this new narrative, were to be the greyhound racing supply side and working class—many of whom were staunch supporters of, if not involved in hands on actuation of the seminal adoption programs that had been undermined by these same slash and burn activists and advocates.

It was quite a stroke of genius, and continues to be a cash cow—or should we say “bitch”, to use the parlance of the greyhound world.

Fortunately, adoption and racing has finally evolved to where individual groups with and without satellite facilities cooperate with the management, the supply side and the racing working class, to the betterment of the racing greyhound—-and where ideology takes a backseat to empathy and welfare. Not a perfect scenario, but light years evolved from what things were only 25-30 years ago.

Unfortunately, slash and burn activism and glacial ignorance of the racing greyhound are still with us, and still threaten the future well being, and the very existence of all greyhounds. And, unlike greyhound racing, it’s a growth business.

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