Letters: Other views on animal testing, hate crimes

The Detroit News
Nikki Ford, 31, of PETA protests the opening night performance of 'UniverSoul Circus' Thursday and their use of animals in their performances by wearing zebra body paint, and not much else, at lunch hour in Campus Martius in Detroit, Michigan on September 7, 2017.

Animal testing harms research

Preventing the abuse of animals and improving science seems to upset Matthew Bailey. In his recent piece, ("Cutting animal research would hurt humans," April 11), Bailey charges that PETA’s idea to cut funding from the colossally wasteful National Institutes of Health, is “utterly divorced from reality.’’

NIH spends about 47 percent of its annual budget on experiments that use dogs, rats monkeys, mice and other animals as “models” of human disease — experiments that rarely, if ever, translate into cures or effective treatments for humans. The NIH admits that 95 percent of all new drugs that test safe and effective in animal tests fail or cause harm in human clinical trials.

For example, the NIH gravy train has wasted nearly $10 million over 30 years to cripple and kill golden retriever dogs in a wrongheaded pursuit of a cure for human muscular dystrophy (MD).

No effective treatment has been found in more than three decades, but that doesn’t stop NIH from funding the cruel experiments, led by experimenter Joe Kornegay at Texas A&M University.

NIH poured more than $35 million into experiments that intentionally induced depression, anxiety, and fear in baby monkeys. Infants were torn away from their mothers, stuffed into tiny cages, and terrorized with loud noises. The experimenter responsible for this cruelty admitted publicly that his results are not relevant to human mental illness, but NIH funded him anyway for more than 30 years.

Animal research is not the boon to scientific discovery Bailey would have everyone believe. The evidence shows that animal research is frequently an impediment to important discoveries.

Interestingly, Bailey makes this point for us when he chose to highlight the development of the polio vaccine as one of the high points in animal research. But he forgot to check his facts. We recommend the Pulizer Prize-winning book “Polio: An American Story” by David M. Oshinsky. which goes into some detail about how the vaccine was delayed precisely because of animal experimentation.

Unlike humans, macaque monkeys cannot contract the polio virus orally, and this difference between species led scientists down a blind alley, stalling the vaccine’s development for decades.

Dr. Al Sabin, developer of the oral polio vaccine, reinforced this point when he testified in front of a Congressional subcommittee: “The work on prevention (of polio) was long delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of disease in monkeys.”

Hyperbole has its place. But, like verifiable science, we like facts. And they’re on our side. Animal experimentation needs to end. All beings, inside labs and out, deserve better.

Keith Brown

science writer


Connection between Trump and hate crimes not hoax

A recent opinion piece in the Detroit News (“America’s hate crime surge is a hoax," April 7) attempted to sever the relationship between President Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and policies from the rise in hate crimes in America as well as distract from the issue by dismissing the systemic issue of police brutality against African Americans. I strongly disagree, and here’s why.

According to FBI data, hate crimes began to spike starting in 2016 after years of decline. There were nearly 300 more hate crimes in 2016, the year of the presidential debates cycle, compared to 2015. Real hate crimes  have indeed increased in the past two years, which coincides with Trump being in the Oval Office.

Given the president has a bully pulpit like no other in America, his words matter and have broad effect on our society. From people of color literally being assaulted at his campaign rallies in 2016 to his stating that there were good people on both sides when anti-racism protesters marched against anti-Black and anti-Semitic white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, there is a connection between Trump’s words and those with racist ideas who support him. To say that his irresponsible speech such as “Islam hates us” to claiming that there are caravans of Latinos seeking to invade America has had no impact in emboldening the perpetrators of hate crimes is far-fetched. His boorish and seemingly uninhibited language has aided in fueling an environment for people to speak and even act more hatefully against those racists view as not being truly American enough. The increase of hate crimes of late is not a byproduct of coincidence divorced from socio-political reality or part of a vacuum.

Regarding African Americans being killed by law enforcement, the conclusions of Kentucky State University associate professor Will Reilly which were also referenced in the editorial are half-baked. In the year 2015 which Reilly based his statements, black males between the ages of 15 to 34 comprised 15% of such deaths while only comprising 2% of the population.

Referencing raw numbers alone that white men get shot more by the police without factoring in statistical disproportionately is academically sloppy to say the least. That racial minorities made up only 37.4% of the population yet compromised 62.7% of unarmed people killed by police in that same year shows clear racial disparity. Moreover, his point that black police shot black men as a proof that race does not play a factor fails to acknowledge the reality of implicit bias against blackness within law enforcement engagement that even black police can have about black civilians including in suburbia, not just in inner cities.

The insertion of this point about police killings within the editorial, however, was not substantially related to the subject of hate crimes rising in America. That was a distraction from the issue of rising hate crimes in our society during the Trump era in which our nation has become polarized as it has not been in 50 years. Trump’s racially loaded and xenophobic statements are cheered on by white nationalists and white supremacists such as Richard Spencer, David Duke to even global extremists like Brenton Tarrant, who conducted the New Zealand massacre against Muslims in New Zealand. The words of the president of the United States matter and are not harmless.

More conservatives need to be honest about the negative effect of Trump’s words on our society and their connection to growing hate instead of dismissing these as a hoax as the recent editorial did.

Dawud Walid

executive director