Reflection: Why Do I Focus on Scapegoating?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection: Why Do I Focus on Scapegoating?

Some have asked why I talk about scapegoating so much. Before I answer, I’d like to review what I mean by scapegoating. It is the transfer of guilt, which nearly all people do in part to see themselves as “good” and worthy of mercy from God (or whatever they call the divine). Not only is such transfer of guilt unjust in itself, it leads to further injustices, because punishment of the victims of scapegoating “confirms” their guilt.
Scapegoating brings communities together – the collective accusation generates a sense of camaraderie by making a group of people feel better about themselves at the expense of one or more victims. Indeed, cynical leaders have long known that hatred of an outside “enemy” can deflect criticism of their own rule. We can see scapegoating at many levels of society. “Popular” kids at school are generally the ones who chose and torment scapegoat victims, and many families have a “black sheep” who the rest of the family regards with contempt. As humanism has made it harder to scapegoating minorities, people with disabilities, women, and other vulnerable people, animals have increasingly become targets of scapegoating.
I think Christianity offers us ways to build community without the injustice of scapegoating. If we believe that our sins are forgivable and that God loves us despite our flaws, we might no longer feel compelled to blame other individuals for our own shortcomings and transgressions. This, I think, is a central component of the “faith of Christ” that, if we share, can inspire us to become healers of a broken and violent world.
Next week, I will discuss how animals have become scapegoat victims, which is one reason that animal liberation is essential to human liberation. 

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