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The Gospel of KindnessAnimal Welfare and the Making of Modern America$
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Janet M. Davis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199733156

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199733156.001.0001

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From Dog Eaters to Mule Beaters

From Dog Eaters to Mule Beaters

Representing the Accused as Alien Other

(p.84) 3 From Dog Eaters to Mule Beaters
The Gospel of Kindness

Janet M. Davis

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how acts of animal kindness and cruelty were markers of American belonging and exclusion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Journalists, SPCA officers, the police, and courts treated public displays of animal kindness as a litmus test for good citizenship, while condemning animal cruelty as proof of inassimilable difference in an era of escalating racial segregation and accelerated immigration. Humane advocates interpreted their own culturally contingent definitions of kindness and abuse through the intersectional optics of gender, race, and class in four interconnected areas of concern: labor; cultural customs, such as kosher slaughter; fashions using animal bodies; and entertainment. While anticruelty surveillance and law enforcement could magnify extant forms of inequality, the American Humane Education Society, which included several black humane leaders, argued that their initiatives—which prioritized education over prosecution—combated nativism and racism in a wholesale gospel of human and animal kindness.

Keywords:   kosher slaughter, feather fashions, checkrein, tail docking, blood sports, black humane leaders, American Humane Education Society, laboring animals

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