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Strafing the Right

Matthew Scully has made major inroads. Years ago (15, I'm guessing) he wrote a compelling piece for The American Conservative about the evils of factory farming. It convinced me.

But TAC has always been an outlier of sorts. It has never tried to be conservative, and definitely never wanted to be Republican, and above all didn't want to be any part of the Establishment. It just wanted to look at issues through a traditional Judeo-Christian lens, Edmund Burke-like, and try to figure things out.

TAC, in other words, has never had an agenda, unless the attempt to remain sober in a drunken political world constitutes an "agenda."

You can't say that about National Review. I liked is founder, William F. Buckley, but he was part of the Establishment, albeit the "right" side . . . and the "Catholic right side" at that, but still, Establishment. NR has almost always been Republican. It is, in a word, "conventional." On the right, but conventionally on the right.

You might say "TAC = paleoconservative" and "NR = neoconservative." I don't think that does it justice, but if you need tags to think more clearly, those tags are only mildly misleading.

So imagine my pleasant surprise to see that Scully has taken his crusade against factory farming to the pages of NR. To my even greater surprise, he's been doing so for over five years.

Check out the pieces. The most recent draws analogies to China's gross wet markets. Compelling stuff.

We in the West don't eat pangolins, turtles, civets, peacocks, monkeys, horses, foxes, and wolf cubs – that's all a plus. But for the animals we do eat, we have sprawling, toxic, industrial “mass-confinement” farms that look like concentration camps. National “herds” and “flocks” that all would expire in their misery but for a massive use of antibiotics, among other techniques, to maintain their existence amid squalor and disease – an infectious “time bomb” closer to home as bacterial and viral pathogens gain in resistance. And a whole array of other standard practices like the “intensive confinement” of pigs, in gestation cages that look borrowed from Asia's bear-bile farms; the bulldozing of lame “downer cows”; and “maceration” of unwanted chicks, billions routinely tossed into grinders. All of which leave us very badly compromised as any model in the decent treatment of animals.