The Humane Society of the United States pushed back Friday against a controversial editorial in a meat industry trade magazine that analogized the organization to Adolf Hitler.
On Friday, the Web site Gawker published an excerpt from an editorial in Meatingplace, written by editor Lisa M. Keefe. In it, Keefe addresses Meatingplace's readers and says she says is concerned that John Hansen, the head of the Nebraska Farmers Union, is working with The Humane Society.
She alleges that her readers think Hansen is the modern-day version of Neville Chamberlain, who, she writes, was hung out to dry by history for trying to strike a deal with Hitler on the eve of World War II.
I was just shocked that the editor would use Hitler in any comparison, said Joe Maxwell, The HSUS's director of rural development and outreach. I think it ignores the horror of the Holocaust, and to somehow try to twist that to an advantage of corporate agriculture and the big meat packers in this country [that] to me was just plain over the top.
Maxwell said that in the fall of 2010, some of the 51,000 HSUS members from Nebraska suggested that CEO Wayne Pacelle travel to the state to talk with farmers in a town-hall style meeting. Hansen attended the meeting and talked about animal-welfare issues.
Soon after, The HSUS and Nebraska Farmers Union set up an agreement to work in collaboration with each other to open markets for more sustainable, animal welfare-friendly products. Maxwell said corporate agriculture attacked both parties for the agreement.
The HSUS set up an agriculture council in Nebraska. Hansen appointed one member to that council. The council, Maxwell said, is working to understand the barriers for allowing family farmers with animal-friendly structures to enter the market.
John Hansen has worked for many years on reaching collaborations, Maxwell said. He's a brilliant individual that cares about his environment, about the land and about animals.
Here's the controversial editorial's excerpt, per Gawker:
History has hung Neville Chamberlain out to dry for trying to strike a deal with Hitler on the eve of World War II that would [have granted] Germany some disputed lands that it claimed. In exchange, Britain's prime minister exacted a promise from Hitler not to invade Poland. This policy of appeasement, as it's come to be called, failed miserably, in no small part because Hitler never intended to honor his side of the agreement. Poor Neville looked like he was played for a fool.
Readers think John Hansen, head of the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU), is being played for a fool in his efforts to collaborate with the Humane Society of the United States on issues of animal handling in that state.