|November 28th, 2013||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2003
Blog Entries: 34
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Strategy
I took the subway on a warm autumn evening from trendy Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., to the distant Maryland suburbs. As directed, I waited on the street by a line of pay phones. At the appointed time, a couple pulled up in the kind of rumpled and earnest vehicle typically associated with a riotous display of leftist-leaning bumper stickers. They helped me into the back seat and looked both ways to make sure the coast was clear. Then they covered me with a wool blanket and drove off.
I was held overnight. Nobody knew where I was. It was part of the deal.
The host couple didn't say much. They were, after all, members of an international terrorist network, the Animal Liberation Front (or ALF). I had three meals with them. They were orthodox vegans; they ate a lot of beans, veggies and tofu, most of it raw, nothing that had ever breathed or that could be considered a life-form. They shared their space with a number of rescued companion animals—cats, dogs, a pot-bellied pig and an expensive talking bird that had apparently witnessed unspeakable acts while in residence with a notorious drug dealer. The house smelled like a domicile in one of those cultures where it is customary for the livestock to live under the same roof as the family. For their part, the couple didn't seem to notice the odors. They were also ecologically conscious; a sign in the bathroom advised guests to "let it brown before flushing it down." Wherever you moved throughout the house, the animals would settle around you; during dinner, they begged underfoot, waiting for scraps—they were also vegan. A long-haired cat lolled a corner of the table, licking itself contentedly with its sandpaper tongue. It felt a little like the foxes were running the henhouse, but I wasn't there to judge.
Late in the afternoon of the next day I was taken to a hotel, where I joined with the anonymous members of the ALF who'd been tapped for that night's mission. As the sky grew dark, we drove a distance in a cargo van, more than 15 of us, jammed together, sitting uncomfortably on the hard metal floor, nervous and wearing black, everyone a vegan. Noxious gas gathered in the small, airless space. Nobody mentioned it.
We all jumped out of the still-moving van like paratroopers from a plane. We pulled down our facemasks, cut through a fence and made our way to an isolated facility where innocent animals were being used for medical research. I would later learn that the lab was a U.S. government facility and that the scientists employed therein were working to discover a cure for toxoplasmosis. In humans the disease causes birth defects, dementia and death. At the time, it was responsible for the deaths of one-fourth of those who were suffering from AIDS. Cats are carriers of the parasite that causes the disease, but they are immune from the effects.
The ALF guerillas—in real life they were housewives and professional people, affluent and dedicated enough to pay their own way to participate in raids around the country—set about trashing the lab. They spray-painted slogans on the walls (e.g., MEAT IS MURDER) and left behind fliers with recipes for vegan dishes. Then we were all given an animal carrier and/or a special backpack with breathing holes. We trekked across a dark field—through a herd of cattle—to a rendezvous point with our original van and several other vehicles.
That night, 28 cats and 7 miniature African piglets were whisked away from certain death, bound for new homes via a network the ALF loyalists called, without irony, the Underground Railroad.