atheism and animal rights, yet were in a way about the same thing. On both subjects, I have an attitude that's sometimes derided as "accommodationist." I think there's such a thing as too boldly challenging religion, or doing so at the wrong time or in the wrong place or in the wrong tone, and unnecessarily alienating potential allies in important battles. In the sphere of animal rights, animal advocates must sometimes settle for reform instead of revolution, working toward the possible, and not just toward the ideal. They need to take a broad view of who's a friend and who's an enemy.
This sort of pragmatism is so obviously right to my mind that I've spent a lot of time pondering why it makes people mad. In the case of atheism, perhaps it all comes down to the fact that in the last five years, the new atheists have made it easier to openly talk about non-belief. I do "get" that it's annoying to be "hushed" when (admittedly) nobody has hard data to support the claim that science advocacy is more effective when it isn't married to rambunctious atheism.
I'm far, far more baffled by the hostility toward pragmatism about animal rights and wrongs. Without getting into all the ins and outs of this stuff, here's what I'm starting to think. If you are involved in a movement that wants basic change, you've got to ask yourself "what time is it?" in that moment. If the hour is very, very early--the practice is ubiquitous, entrenched, and widely accepted--then it's downright irrational (and even immoral) not to work toward both reform and revolution. If it's the eve of revolution, and much can be gained by insisting on that and that alone, then activism may have to take another form.
It's a very, very early hour in the movement to change the status of animals. The vast majority of animal advocates and organizations (of many different ideological stripes) know that, and so act accordingly--looking to build a broad based moment that focuses on a wide range of goals, from the very possible to the very ideal. They're not corrupt for doing so, and their pragmatism says nothing about what kind of change they would like to see in the long run.
So much for that...maybe.