And who was auto racer, author, & anti-vivisectionist Hans Ruesch, anyhow?
The conservative-leaning anti-vivisection organization White Coat Waste Project has since August 11, 2021 issued frequent flamboyant appeals and media releases associating 37-year National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases chief Anthony Fauci, 80, with a variety of cruel and gruesome experiments on beagles and monkeys.
Some of those experiments were actually funded by the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases; some not.
ANIMALS 24-7, further investigating the allegations since White Coat Waste Project first raised them, delayed reporting about them while seeking documentation that Fauci had direct involvement in the experiments, for instance by personally reviewing the research protocols.
As yet, no such documentation has turned up –– which does not mean it will not.
“We had to push it to the right”
Meanwhile, observing Mark Twain’s maxim that a reporter should “Get the facts first. Then you can distort ’em as you please,” ANIMALS 24-7 missed the chance to ride the coat-tails of White Coat Waste Project sensational claims that soon went viral, inundating Fauci in messages of protest, including from several members of Congress.
Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Beth Reinhard on November 20, 2021 explored the relationship between Fauci as “a controversial figure during the [COVID-19] pandemic,” citing “his public clashes with [former] President Donald Trump over Fauci’s support for masks and opposition to unproven cures,” and the history of White Coat Waste Project founder Anthony Bellotti as “a seasoned Republican operative” who previously directed “campaigns to end public funding for Planned Parenthood, mobilize opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and pass a California ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage.”
Summarized Abutaleib and Reinhard, “White Coat Waste Project set out to unite animal lovers with fiscal conservatives, challenging not just the ethics of animal research but also its burden on taxpayers.”
Said Bellotti, “We had to push it to the right.”
Anti-vivisectionism & creationism
Ironically, anti-vivisectionism has historically and traditionally been more a cause of the political right than of the left.
While the humane movement, as a whole, has since the 18th century been chiefly a cause of liberal reformers, the somewhat older and historically mostly separate anti-vivisection movement has since the mid-19th century often been dominated by conservative religious fundamentalists, who reject the idea of evolution in favor of creationism.
The common conviction of most anti-vivisectionists over the years has been that animals are so unlike humans –– because humans are uniquely created in the image of God –– that nothing derived from studying animals can be valid in human medicine.
The idea that animals are so much like us that they have a right to not suffer addresses the same underlying problem –– cruelty to animals –– from a completely different and mutually exclusive philosophical direction.
What would Hans Ruesch have said?
Though the latter approach now dominates anti-vivisectionist arguments, especially those amplified by animal rights advocacy, just a few decades ago the contention that animal experimentation is medically and scientifically useless dominated the discussion.
Most forcefully and persuasively advancing this view, as what he called “scientific anti-vivisectionism,” was the late Hans Ruesch, a political and social conservative who likely would have simultaneously denounced both Fauci and the White Coat Waste Project.
Ruesch notoriously seldom made common cause with anyone who did not accept him as guru of a brand of anti-vivisectionism which accepted practically every other common use of animals, including hunting them and eating them.
Ruesch, 94, died in Massagno, Switzerland, on August 27, 2007, after a prolonged illness that brought several premature reports of his death.
Began public career as racing driver
Born in Naples, Italy, in 1913, of a Swiss mother and German father, Ruesch briefly studied law at the University of Zurich, but quit at age 19 to race his Morris Garages [M.G.] sports car.
Soon switching to a much faster Maserati, Ruesch won the first 12 of his eventual 27 victories in international auto racing competition during the next three years, proving especially successful in hill climbs and races on ice.
Moving rapidly to the top level of European auto racing, Ruesch drove an Alfa Romeo to third place in his 1932 Grand Prix debut. Competing chiefly on the Grand Prix circuit after 1934, Ruesch was an independent car owner in a sport dominated by German and Italian factory teams who raced with Nazi and Fascist subsidies.
Won British Grand Prix
Taking the lead in the 1936 British Grand Prix on the third lap, and holding it, Ruesch on the 60th lap, as an apparent gesture of sportsmanship, turned his car over to Dick Seaman, the most renowned British driver of the era, and shared his first Grand Prix victory with Seaman.
Seaman, a suspected Nazi sympathizer, was killed during the 1939 Belgian Grand Prix while driving for the Nazi-sponsored Mercedes-Benz team.
Ruesch meanwhile took his Alfa Romeo to South Africa for the winter of 1936-1937, where he raced chiefly against the Nazi-subsidized Auto Union team.
After four Grand Prix wins among a career-best six victories in 1937, Ruesch appeared to be on the verge of Grand Prix stardom.
According to some sources––but not others, including his authorized online biography––Ruesch in 1938 joined the Alfa Romeo factory team.
Jumped to Nazi racing team in 1938 but fled outbreak of World War II
Ruesch traveled to the U.S. with the Italian racing great Tazio Nuvolari in midyear, after the Alfa Romeo cars proved uncompetitive and dangerous.
Then, in July 1938, Ruesch and Nuvolari jumped to the Auto Union team.
The official Ruesch biography mentions no events of 1938 after April.
“In 1939 with the political situation in Europe deteriorating,” the official bio recounts, Ruesch “moved to Paris, where he began writing. He had made a scouting trip to America in 1938, and with the Germans one day away from Paris and the borders closed, he headed for Spain. He was arrested in Madrid, but with the help of a female friend managed to get released, and continued on to Lisbon where he stayed for six weeks. He settled in New York, studying creative writing.”
Anthony Quinn, Peter O’Toole, & Kirk Douglas played Hans Ruesch characters
“He took up writing full time and had short stories published by Redbook, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post and Esquire,” the official bio says.
Post-World War II, Ruesch authored two novels, Top of the World (1950) and The Racer (1953), which were made into films starring Anthony Quinn and Peter O’Toole, and Kirk Douglas, respectively.
An attempted racing comeback in 1953 ended after Ruesch crashed his Ferrari in his first event, killing a Italian policeman and seriously injuring three other people.
Took up anti-vivisectionism at age 65
Ruesch produced several more novels during the next 23 years, but founded the Center for Scientific Information on Vivisection (CIVIS) in 1974, and abandoned fiction writing to produce the influential exposés The Slaughter of The Innocent (1978) and The Naked Empress (1982).
Both were instrumental in boosting support for the early animal rights movement, despite Ruesch’s own personal antipathy toward most of the animal rights movement and almost everything it stood for besides anti-vivisectionist views that helped his book sales.
CIVIS chapters founded around the world in support of Ruesch were among the most active incubators of animal rights activism, but lost much of their momentum and leadership to other organizations, as Ruesch became embroiled in often one-sided disputes with perceived rivals.
Ruesch eventually lost a protracted libel suit brought by the Italian League Against Vivisection.
Animal Liberation author Peter Singer, another frequent Ruesch target, mostly ignored him.
Outlived premise of his argument
Eventually Ruesch outlived the central premise of his argument. Ruesch held that animal experiments are invalid predictors of the effects of drugs and medical procedures on humans because animals are inherently too different from humans to permit accurate cross-species extrapolation.
Introduced by anti-vivisectionists more than two generations before Charles Darwin authored The Origin of Species, this approach was eroded by advances in genetic research which have increasingly established how closely humans are related to other species––even mollusks.
Thus, while whole organisms may respond very differently to particular conditions or substances, specific tissues or systems sometimes respond identically.
As the science of the “scientific” argument that Ruesch favored changed, the emphasis of anti-vivisection campaigning tilted heavily toward making the case that animals should not be experimented on because they are sentient beings, enough like humans to deserve equivalent moral consideration.
Ruesch argued in his last published essay––as he often had before––that the turn away from his approach came because universities both employ moral philosophers and host animal experiments.
Karen Davis says
Hans Ruesch’s “single issue” focus on animal vivisection reminds me of the Anglo-Irish Victorian feminist-anti-vivisection pioneer, Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904). She too restricted her approach to vivisection exclusively, although, unlike Ruesch whose focus was on the scientific aspect, she deplored the cruelty of vivisection, meanwhile justifying animal consumption and traditional English shooting parties. Her autobiography is extremely engaging. She had a sense of humor along with her passion to expose and end animal vivisection. Should we infer from this Animals 24-7 account that Hans Ruesch was okay with animal abuse so long as it was not in a laboratory? One of the encouraging developments of the modern animal advocacy movement is its focus on all forms of institutionalized animal abuse including the imperative to be vegan. There’s a crucial difference between FOCUSED activism and single-issue activism. Caring only about “pets” and raising money for an animal shelter with fundraiser dinners featuring chicken and beef, “seafood” and the like, is a prominent, exasperating example of the myopic single-issue focus.
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns. http://www.upc-online.org
Harold J Hovel says
I don’t see that the arguments that animals shouldn’t be experimented on because they are so different physiologically from humans or because they are sentient beings who have a right not to suffer are exclusive. They are both right, are both valid parts of a three-part argument against animal experimentation. The third part, as Marjorie Anchel used to say, is that animal experimentation might give some valid answers but is MORALLY wrong (she was a former lab worker who was an ardent animal rights activist). The moral point is that animals aren’t ours to experiment on, as Ingrid Newkirk says so often.
Thank you for weighing in on the Fauci/”Beaglegate” circus. This has been going nuts on social media and I was hoping you would make some sense of it. There’s a decent segment of people amplifying the controversy because they hate Fauci, not because they have the slightest concern about animals. If a public figure Trump liked had been attached to these experiments–the exact same people would have been defending them as “necessary” and attacking animal activists as “human haters.”
Always keep this in mind when you’re deciding who to partner with to spread the humane message. Are they just using your message to amplify something completely unrelated?
Jamaka Petzak says
As one of those perhaps unfortunate activists who tries to find the good in every animal advocate’s argument and work with them whenever possible, learning from them when appropriate, and maintaining my own stance in knowing that all beings should be respected and protected, I admired Reusch for the good he did and encouraged, and will continue to do so. As to Fauci, ditto. And where each of them do not further this stance, I disagree and will continue to do so. And as to Newkirk, I will refrain from commenting, as I have absolutely nothing constructive to say about her.
Mary Finelli says
I often appreciate comments that you post on this site, and I especially appreciate your concern for animals. I find it odd, though, that while you can admire Reusch and Fauci, you apparently are unable to admire Newkirk despite the far greater good she has done for animals. Especially considering all the horrific harm that Fauci has approved being done to animals.