Here are some facts:
- There are Muslim students studying at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio)
- To purchase halal meat (killed literally "according to religious law"), a visiting professor stated that people have to travel 40 miles to Cincinnati
- Just under fifty people signed an online petition asking local grocers to sell halal meat
- As a consequence of this and student discussions with management, a local Walmart store now offers halal meat - the store manager said “I am pleased to announce that we have set a halal meat section in the store.”
As the weary among you may have guessed, this chain of events inevitably sparked outrage, courtesy of the intolerant and short-sighted views of some people, combined with a mainstream media ecosystem that allows news to be reported with key polarizing facts omitted or obscured. Here's a selection of posts, unaltered, that people have posted on the Walmart Facebook page. All I am copying are the comments themselves - no names, no attribution, I'm not giving them a soapbox. If you seek verification though, you can check that the comments do indeed exist by going here and clicking on "posts to page" on the left (however, according to one commenter, posts have been deleted).
I could continue with many more, but you probably get the gist. I should have said this earlier, but I'm no expert on the various methods for killing animals - I doubt many of us are. Am I for or against the halal method of killing animals? Neither. I am not well enough informed on the matter, so I don't stand for either side.
The fact is though that a Walmart store in Oxford, Ohio now has a section for halal meats. They have not replaced all meat in the store with halal meat, they are merely responding to a consumer request to sell a wider variety of products for the convenience of customers, which in this case, is stocking some halal produce. It's not even the first time this particular matter of convenience has occurred, yet people are up in arms about it as if it's a new decision. One of the commenters posted from Texas - on the assumption that they don't travel 1,250 miles to do their shopping at the Oxford Walmart, I don't see why they're suddenly so indignant, considering that several individual Walmart branches across the United States have offered a halal selection of meats since at least 2010.
"Caving to demands", "surrendered", "catering to muslims", "bowing to the muslims".......... really? In order to maintain their beliefs, people had to drive an hour each way to buy meat. That's an inconvenient waste of time. If you need to regularly buy something and nowhere near you stocks it, why not ask? That's what they did, and the store decided to cater to the consumer demand. I am not a Muslim, and whether I believe in halal methods of preparation or not is irrelevant - here's a Voltaire/Hall quote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - I'm not saying I disapprove, but my point is that whether I believe the same beliefs or not is irrelevant - I have no right to tell others what they can and cannot believe, none of us do. You have the right to believe whatever you want. There are moral boundaries, yes, but is halal preparation directly affecting you? No. Are you the animal? No. Is Walmart forcing halal meat on you? No. Is the Islamic community insisting that everybody eats halal meat? No. Interestingly, the Jewish tradition of kosher slaughter involves no stunning, no shooting, but a swift incision across the throat with a knife. That sounds rather familiar, because halal slaughter also involves no stunning, no shooting, but a swift incision across the throat with a knife. I don't see any "millions" of people complaining about kosher preparations, I don't see any nation-wide boycotting of kosher meat vendors, or public hatred towards people who practice Jewish beliefs. If you morally oppose such methods of slaughter, then fine, that's your belief and you have a right to hold it. I would hope though that if you oppose religious traditions and beliefs that use a sharp knife to quickly kill an animal, you also oppose battery farming, animal testing, and any other method of killing an animal that doesn't result in guaranteed immediate death, such as hunting or other butchering methods. If however, you are outraged and boycotting Walmart for providing a convenience to people who wish to maintain their beliefs while you eat a reconstituted hot dog made from tortured pigs, fry an egg from a chicken that was later trampled to death by fellow scared chickens in horrendous conditions, and then wash your hair with some cheap shampoo that was tested on animals, then I have a few words for the hypocrites stirring up unfounded hatred: Fuck you, and how dare you.
September 11th 2001 and the subsequent conflicts have clearly had a negative impact on general feelings about Islam. But remember, those were extremists responsible for the attacks. They do not represent the majority beliefs of the religion they claim to represent. When people forcefully inflict things on others is when you have a right to be outraged, for example, if a government won't allow two people of the same sex to marry. Or if a religion decides to ride off and inflict their religious beliefs on other countries. Or some people turn up and force the natives off their own land. That's not fair, that's not equality, and it's an institution inflicting something on others. You can be annoyed at that. If a law is passed that enforces all meat sold nationwide to be halal, then you can be annoyed. But that's not the case, so it's not an issue. Not to assume, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people fuming at the halal news have a couple of animal heads on their walls and the dripping corpse of a deer in the back of their truck. That's the worst part, that not only are these numerous intolerant misinformed bigots spouting their unjustified concerns and hatred, they have no ground to stand on, and no high horse. Apparently double standards are still socially acceptable.