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Free the Animals! : The Untold Story of the U.S. Animal Liberation Front and Its Founder, "Valerie" Paperback – July, 1992
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From Library Journal
Despite a recent proliferation of animal rights books, this is the first to discuss the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The most militant of the animal rights groups, this group operates in secrecy and advocates such aggressive actions as breaking into laboratories to rescue animals. Author Newkirk, executive director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is one of the few people with firsthand knowledge of the ALF and is personally acquainted with the organization's founder, the pseudonymous "Valerie." This is Valerie's story, the story of a woman who became so outraged at the injustices suffered by animals that she gave up her career as a police officer to found an organization which operates outside the law, if not actually against it. The details of military-type training, secret identities, and midnight raids make exciting reading, akin to a good adventure novel. Some readers will object to the ALF's militant tactics, but one is left with a positive sense of how someone with strong convictions can make a difference. Recommended as a good example of one of the more extreme viewpoints on the issue.
- Deborah Emerson, Monroe Community Coll. Lib., Rochester, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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She tells of an orientation lecture given to new members: "Animal rights means more than petting the dog; it means recognizing that there is no moral basis, none, for deciding that you have basic rights and that all the other animals on the face of the earth, from oysters, to chimpanzees, don't." (Pg. 47) She quotes one member, "Nonviolence is a middle class obsession. Bullies are cowards, and we need to get thess bast___s' attention. You SUPPORT violence if you don't STOP violence; by not taking strong enough action, you support violence. In a way, we're pussy-footing around the problem. A really good scare might do more to stop these folks than all our raids." (Pg. 194)
She recounts the origins of the ALF: "It started as the Band of Mercy... in the early seventies... They'd go out at night and sabotage the vehicles used by foxhunters to train hounds and seed areas with captive-bred fox cubs. The Band would gum up the engines by putting treacle down the petrol lines... Next, they branched out to try to stop the bloody seal hunt by burning the sealers' boats while they were moored in the Wash... Ronnie started to think about the labs next... Ronnie was determined to make animal torture a costly business, something insurance companies would hesitate to cover... The time seemed right for a more militant handle, one that would rock the industries and make sons and daughters of animal traders shy away from their parents' careers. And so, children, that's how the ALF was born." (Pg. 62-64)
Valerie "didn't want to recognize why [chimpanzees'] suffering affected her so deeply. Was it because these were our closest animal relatives on the face of the earth? Somehow, as much as she wanted to see the suffering of a mouse of a dog in the same way, Valerie had to admit that at some subconscious level, the chimpanzees' undeniable similarity to human beings was making what she had seen even harder to bear." (Pg. 311)
Valerie concludes, "If people want to stop the ALF it is simple: stop doing upspeakable acts to other-than-human beings! ... There will be an ALF for as long as tiny chicks feel the pain of that searing wire on their beaks and chained pigs dig hopelessly into the hard cement with their hooves; as long as foxes are killed with hot prods, and orphaned raccoons... are left to starve in their dens; as long as there are terrorized animal victims of human injustice and callousness." (Pg. 371-372)
This is a fascinating and very insightful account, that will be of keen interest to anyone concerned with animal welfare and animal rights.
You will be shocked when you read about the experiments, the animals' living conditions, the lack of medical care, and the pain and suffering these animals endure druing their short lives. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that a large portion of these experiments are USELESS when applied to human beings.
You will get up-close and personal with some of the members of the ALF. They're not rebels. They are normal people like you and I - yet they have unbelievable compassion and respect for all creatures. They are the voices for those that cannot speak.
As Alice Walker wrote "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men"