Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

PETA “Protests” as the KKK February 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joselle @ 1:20 pm

Because PETA can’t just tell the truth about animals and operate compassionately and justly, they do shit like this. The Associated Press reported that on Monday, February 19,  members of PETA dressed up as Klansmen to protest the American Kennel Club at the Westminster Kennel Club Show, held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

I first heard of this unfortunately unsurprising travesty on Racialicious (they got the tip from Womanist Musings; and thanks to Noemifor letting me know about that post). In addition to my outrage at PETA’s continuing racism, misogyny, and run-of-the-mill contempt for people and animals alike, what struck me most about the AP report was this part:

Most passers-by seemed more puzzled than offended, though those who didn’t stop walked away thinking they really had seen the KKK. The most common reaction was to pull out a cell phone and start snapping photos.

On top of being hate-mongers, the activism of PETA is simply ineffectual. They didn’t change hearts and minds with this sideshow on Monday. They either traumatized or befuddled people. Nothing gained for the animals, human or otherwise.

Since so often many people conflate the sensationalistic actions of PETA with the beliefs and values held by people who want to protect animals, it’s time that major organizations and leaders in the animal welfare and rights communities disavowed PETA. One commenter on Womanist Musings said as much:

It’s long past time for PETA to be put out of business, and for other animal-right groups to stop trying to sweep PETA’s shit under the rug, call PETA out, and dissociate themselves from PETA.

Where is the proof that what PETA is doing helps animals? What exactly is their purpose?

PETA, you don’t stand for me.

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54 Responses to “PETA “Protests” as the KKK”

  1. Royce Drake Says:

    My extreme dislike of PETA continually reaches new levels. PETA and it’s defenders seem to have ahistorical knowledge of oppression, and seem to think we actual live in a post-race, post-sexism, post- human-oppression-in-general world where images like that are ok. I wonder if participants in that demonstration understand that the KKK still exists. That the KKK is still terrifying as fuck for a lot of us. Or even the simple fact that those who are empathetic, or even sensible, would never dress up as the Klan in such a non-nuanced fashion.

  2. Pamela B Says:

    PETA does amazing things for animals. Recently, they shamed Donna Karan into eliminating fur from her future collections, convinced KFC in Canada to use more humane suppliers and brought attention to the horrifying conditions in puppy mills all around the world. That’s just in the last couple of months.

    Do you care about animals? Do you care about humanity and the way it is being affected by the horrific treatment of animals in all types of industries?

    I have read all the coverage you mentioned and not one of them even indicated that they had contacted PETA to see what the correlation between the KKK and the AKC is….so who exactly is to be questioned here? PETA or the people who reacted to a photo rather than doing proper research and understanding the message? Both the KKK and the AKC have resorted to horrific abuse in order to promote the idea of a so-called ‘ideal’ rather than embracing the value of the individual. Dogs, people….all are creatures born to live!!! To be cared for, to be free. There is nothing free about forced pregnancy, ‘bobbing’ tails and clipping ears.

    Wake up please! Your ignorance offends me.

  3. Pamela, none of us at Vegans of Color give a fuck about animals. That’s why we’re all vegan.

    Pamela, please at least read the about us page and some other posts on this blog before commenting. I know that I don’t have time to reeducate everytime some privileged person throws a ridiculous, delusional, hand flailing tantrum. I think many of the other bloggers feel that way, too.

  4. Crys T Says:

    Pamela, there’s a reason that the subtitle of this blog specifies that being single-issue is a *luxury*.

  5. Royce Drake Says:

    @Pamela B.

    Do you care about racism? I want all people and all animals eliminated from systems of oppression. That doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to PETA’s blatant racism and sexism. Perhaps you are the one who needs to wake up?

  6. johanna Says:

    Pamela, aside from the v. good points made by the other commenters (which, YEAH, go do some reading please), if PETA is so pro-animal, why do they support breed-specific legislation & argue that pit bulls should be destroyed as a breed?

  7. Haley Says:

    I think Pamela is a perfect example of my comments about a similar “single issue” blog post here.

    She may also want to listen to some Tim Wise before thinking that using racism to prove a point is effective.

    I agree – PETA does do some fantastic good for animals, but they do NOT have to resort to racist and sexist advertising. They seem to think that to consider animals as a commodity is a crime, but women are totally ok.

  8. mel Says:

    PETA’s myopic, single issue liberalism is nothing but privilege at it’s finest (or worst, I suppose.)

  9. meridith Says:

    If PeTA’s all about the animals, why do they bestow awards to Temple Grandin and work with KFC to promote “humane” ways to kill more animals effectively? Why would PeTA (and HSUS) rather euthanize Michael Vick’s pitbulls then focus on rehabilitation like, say, Friends of Animals? Are we really effectively working towards ending animal exploitation with stunts like this?

    Pamela, your trollish ignorance offends me.

  10. Sammy Says:

    Two clips that may clarify their approach:

    Watch first
    Racist, Sexist, Speciesist

    Then watch
    Peta’s AKC ad

  11. Dani Says:

    “They either traumatized or befuddled people.” That sums up PETA perfectly!

    Pamela, your backlash only proves Joselle’s point about how useless PETA is as an advocacy organization. Think about it. Why is it that no one who is covering PETA’s racist stunt has bothered to find out more about the issue PETA is supposedly addressing? It’s safe to assume that if people aren’t researching and discussing the exploitation of dogs in relation to the AKC, and are only reacting to the photo, then this proves precisely what a complete failure the stunt is in terms of nonhuman animal advocacy.

    So regarding the question, “Where is the proof that what PETA is doing helps animals?” There is none; the coverage shows that PETA is nothing more than a distraction, which does more to perpetuate oppression (of both human and nonhuman animals) than confront it.

    While these exploitive photo-ops obviously do nothing to oppose the exploitation of other animals, they do get PETA’s name in the press. Thus, while it is true these actions get attention, there is absolutely no merit to the are argument that you and other apologists are making that this kind of racism helps raise awareness about the oppression of other animals. The only thing being discussed is PETA.

    So regarding the question, “What exactly is their purpose?” Apparently, it’s done purely for PETA’s own self-aggrandizement.

  12. adam Says:

    I second/third/fourth(?) Joselle, Royce, and johanna. Pamela, you really should take into consideration Royce’s question “Do you care about racism?” Your comment is oddly unsympathetic and out-of-place on a blog that is concerned about both racism *and* speciesism; and is additionally concerning since you are not merely defending PETA, but closing your mind and heart to the hurt resulting from the exploitation of racist iconography.

    I had mixed feelings on the KKK comparison made in an online ad last year, but this stunt within a public space crosses the line from insensitivity to indecency and indifference of race issues. I wonder if it ever PETA ever considered how actual people of color would feel being confronted by white robes on the streets of Boston. Further, I can imagine such an event marginalizing people of color and Jews who do support PETA. Would PETA have even allowed an Afro-American member to don the white robe?

  13. Doris Says:

    Pamela, that is the point. The KKK robes are so offensive, no one can see past them to the message. No one wants to talk to the “protestors” or take their literature. PETA is not getting the animal rights message across. When they pull something like this, they’re just offending people.

  14. I strongly disagree with PETA’s use of Klansmen costumes.

    However, I think it’s unfair to claim “nothing gained.” Only time will tell if PETA’s tactics work. All of the major news stories about this event included criticisms of the AKC. And no one was physically hurt. So…. maybe something was gained.

    Not every campaign makes sense and not every position they take is good. They certainly make mistakes. But they’ve done a whole hell of a lot of good, too. The fact that most people associate animal rights with PETA tells you all you need to know about how much they’ve done for the movement: they’ve been the face, the name, the leaders when no one else would be.

    The only way to get rid of PETA without seriously damaging the movement is to create or promote other AR organizations. So long as people continue to criticize PETA at the expense of talking about actual animal issues or talking about other, better organizations, PETA will continue to be the face of the AR movement.

    And, by the way, when you link to animal eaters’ blogs and support their animal eater rhetoric, you’re not helping animals. Renee (Womanist Musings) jokes about eating animals. She jokes about it.

    If we’re anti-oppression, we’re anti-oppression. No, it’s not OK to be racist while fighting for animal rights. LIKEWISE, it’s not OK to be an animal exploiter while fighting against racism. PETA deserves criticism, but it should stay in-house, from VEGANS, not anti-vegans.

  15. [...] OF COLOR: PETA “Protests” As The KKK. Wait a second … these wimping, whiney shits were in the middle of New York City in KKK gear … [...]

  16. Angel H. Says:

    PETA deserves criticism, but it should stay in-house, from VEGANS, not anti-vegans.

    Bullshit.

    If that were the case, then nobody would get called on their shit. Example: If the NRA decided to advertise using sexist imagery, by your logic only NRA members have the right to criticise. Better yet: Only the shareholders and employees of KFC would have the right to criticise the abuse of their chickens. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

    Also, in case you haven’t realized, they’re not just being racist towards vegans of color. They’re being racist towards ALL people of color.

  17. Katie Says:

    I’m really curious as to why Elaine V is even welcome on this site. If you go to the Womanist Musings thread that she’s talking about, she tells Renee to basically shut up and stop talking about racism. This person is not a friend to VoC.

  18. adam Says:

    There is another crucial point on race that has not yet been addressed here that Luke brought up on Racialicious. Luke notes that if PETA intended to make a good analogy, they would have dressed up as Nazis, since Nazis were the ones who historically played with eugenics to create a master race, not the KKK.

    This is very telling of how race is at play. Perhaps PETA thought the Nazis were too offensive too touch (or perhaps not enough?). Perhaps after the “Holocaust on Your Plate” exhibit, PETA fears offending Jews as before and has resorted to appropriating the domination of Afro-Americans. If true, this would be especially interesting since, demographically, there are at least four times the number of blacks as Jews–meaning they are likely turning-off a larger number of people to the cause. Does PETA just not care about black people (even less than people in general)?

  19. adam Says:

    Elaine, WTF? I’m shocked at how you’ve continued to defend “the good” PETA has done, especially after this unambiguously insensitive/indifferent stunt. Okay, so “no one was physically hurt,” but how do you not factor in emotional and spiritual pain?! And how dare you tell a poc that she has “NO right to criticize PETA” because she’s not a vegan–you know a hell of a lot better. Perhaps, you have no right to criticize Womanist since you are not anti-racist (at least in action).

  20. Alicia Says:

    Dani I echo everything you said. Month after month after month I hear of some new scheme from PETA that never does much to persuade people to go Vegan but does a better job in making Vegans look like wackos and extremist. This line from the article sums up what most omnivores think when they see these stunts:

    ” Earlier, a man strode away yelling, “That’s disgusting! I’m going to buy more fur!” ”

    You can’t fight ignorance with ignorance and that is actually what PETA is trying to do. I have no respect for an organization that kills animals and then says it is for animals. Nor do I have respect for an organization that feels they need to be sexist and racist in order to get a point across. Who in their right mind would don a KKK outfit? It proves no point. Why didn’t they just get out the burning cross and the noose while they were at it – you definitely want to make sure you have a complete ensemble right?

    Like Joselle said, Peta you do not stand for me.

    On another note Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals and Vegan Outreach are two amazing organizations who actually effect real change without pulling these stunts.

  21. Haley Says:

    @Alicia

    I <3 Vegan Outreach. The peaceful way they hand out leaflets seem to be more effective than being in your face.

  22. I feel like some of you are taking your frustrations with PETA out on me. Certainly, as a white woman I exert some privilege, but your anger really is misdirected. I did not dress up as a Klansman and I did not support PETA’s choice to do it, either. Moreover, I opposed the stunt publicly, as a vegan.

    Angel said: “If that were the case, then nobody would get called on their shit. ”
    That’s not true. I called PETA out on their Klansmen costumes days before the anti-vegan gang.
    And no, your analogy with the NRA doesn’t work. My argument isn’t that ALL criticism towards ALL groups should stay in-house. My argument is that anti-exploitation criticism is better when it comes from places like Vegans of Color than when it comes from places like anti-vegans of color. Renee eats animals and that part of the equation cannot be overlooked when analyzing her criticism. It’s a KEY component.

    Here’s an analogy: Let’s say some feminist group made an ad that compared a sexist organization to a psychiatric facility. Let’s say anti-feminists criticized the feminists for being abilist. Sure, the abilist criticism is valid, but coming from anti-feminists, it’s tainted. It’s better if it comes from feminists.

    Adam: I think their point was to provoke outrage and to link the AKC to the KKK. But I’m not entirely sure what PETA’s point was. When I criticized them about the KKK demonstration on their blog, they deleted my comment.
    Also, Adam, I do consider myself an anti-racist. Which is why I criticize PETA in the first place!

    Haley, I find it curious that you don’t consider leafletting “in your face.” In fact, it’s probably the most direct activism there is :) Sure, it’s peaceful and non-riot inciting, but it’s very in your face. And depending where you leaflet and to whom, people can react with just as much hate as if you’d donned a sheet – it’s just that the VO haters are less justified.

  23. Crys T Says:

    What Dani said. The more I learn about PETA, the more I’m amazed at how little they actually seem to have done for animals.

    Not that even if they *were* doing amazingly good things, that would “cancel out” the racist/misogynist/ableist/anti-Semitic/classist/fatphobic crap they’ve pulled. Seriously, apart from white, middle-class, fashionably slim, rich American hipsters, is there anyone they haven’t managed to completely alienate?

  24. Wendy Says:

    What’s been astounding to me is that on the Tribe of Heart listserv there have been about an equal number of posters taking sides on this issue. I am certain that listserv has many people who never post, but I was so positive that on a list designed for people who are tired of the “humane meat” myth there would be many more who are sick of PeTA.

    As a white lesbian who only began to really understand white privelege when I was fortunate to work at the Race Relations Center of East Tennessee for a short time, I was so outraged when I heard about this stunt of PeTA’s that I was speechless. As you can see from this long post, that doesn’t happen often.

    I have been having arguments with people on the Tribe of Heart list that have been thoroughly disappointing. Things like “instead of picking on a group like peta that’s getting things done, why don’t you go out and do some activism?”
    Or saying “well the animals suffer too so what’s the difference?”

    I am so frustrated that so many white people don’t seem to get it! I don’t pretend to “get it” completely, but I can at least grasp the concept that racism is NOT the way to encourage people into veganism, or to convince them that vegans and animal rights activsts are a compassionate group of people.

    And as this blog entry mentioned, and a couple of people on the Tribe of Heart listserv, there was no mention of exactly how the AKC breeders treat their animals.

    It was so much less about the animals than it was about peta’s getting attention for itself. Of course, peta has yet to respond to the email I shot off to them.

    I so agree with you that leaders in the movement MUST distance themselves from PeTA, and do it publicly, so we can put the focus on the issues of suffering and not on the offensive campaigns of a group that has long since forgotten why it was begun in the first place.

  25. Wendy Says:

    Elaine, you say: “The fact that most people associate animal rights with PETA tells you all you need to know about how much they’ve done for the movement: they’ve been the face, the name, the leaders when no one else would be. ”

    And this is why, time after time in places like Knoxville, TN, when AR activists are sitting at a table getting signatures for a spay and neuter stamp (hardly controversial; and yes, this example is a little old!) the very first question out of someone’s mouth BEFORE he signs is: “are you with PeTA?” Because if you are, he’s not going to sign.

    It is the first thing asked before someone takes information about Ringling Brothers’ Circus.

    In Asheville, NC, supposedly much more progressive (hey, we have 3 vegetarian restaurants, and one very close to vegan one!) city, it is the first question out of the (progressive) radio station manager’s mouth when you tell him you want to do an AR show. And you can feel the contempt oozing over the phone.

    Precisely because PeTA is so sexist, so media and stunt-oriented without getting anything done anymore (there was a time when it was a good, effective organization), it is the one associated with animal rights, and it is the one that offends the entire spectrum from feminists to anti-gay conservatives and because of its tactics its message gets lost while its star power increases.

    The hypocrisy of PeTA is beyond belief as well. I am really really shocked that more people are not offended by this KKK tactic. I am so so so so so lucky that in my family history the worst I’ve had to contend with is possibly some gay-bashing against my mom or me; and then maybe go back about 300 years to some persecution based on religion, not race, and anyway it was never a big issue in my family.

    I agree with the poster who mentioned that the KKK is not ancient history. In fact, and I mentioned this on the heart2heart list, Newport, TN had a KKK rally around 8 or 9 years ago. Sure, people went to protest but the fact that the KKK still exists makes it triply shameful that peta would stoop to such levels.

    If they really want to help animals, then focus on helping animals, not on getting cheap publicity. There are other stories I’ve heard about how PeTA’s tactics have actually made activism harder in some areas (I think Doll Stanley of IDA who runs a sanctuary in MS mentioned this).

    People need to stop seeing PeTA as an animal rights organization. It stands for itself, and it does no longer seems content to get in there and do the work, the way it did for the Silver Spring Monkeys. Using system of exploitation – the current media-crazed, sexist, racist system – to end any kind of exploitation can’t work. We need to rise above the shit, not continue to swim in a cesspool.

    Finally, offending people is so stupid because it’s only people who can demand an end to animal suffering. I mean, that’s only common sense.

  26. Angel H. Says:

    I feel like some of you are taking your frustrations with PETA out on me. Certainly, as a white woman I exert some privilege, but your anger really is misdirected. I did not dress up as a Klansman and I did not support PETA’s choice to do it, either. Moreover, I opposed the stunt publicly, as a vegan.

    First of all: You’re not exerting “some” privilege here. The fact that you believe that only certain people have the right to criticise your pet organization, that people who do live according to *your* standards have no right to speak out against such an atrocity, that you refuse to listen to anybody’s opinion but your own, shows an immense amount of privilege and outright disrespect to EVERY person of color who was triggered by that scene.

    I called PETA out on their Klansmen costumes days before the anti-vegan gang.

    I would give you a cookie, but I’m out of gluten-free baking mix. :-(

    Besides (since you want to bring up Renee’s blog, I’ll go there), your first comment at Womanist Musings wasn’t “PETA shouldn’t have done this”. It was:

    “I suggest you watch a documentary about breeders before you jump to conclusions about how benign you think the AKC is..”

    You totally invalidated her own anger and hurt as a Black woman – and mine, for that matter – by telling her that they should be concentrated more on the AKC, than at PETA.

    And no, your analogy with the NRA doesn’t work. My argument isn’t that ALL criticism towards ALL groups should stay in-house.

    Yeah, it was:

    PETA deserves criticism, but it should stay in-house, from VEGANS, not anti-vegans.

    RACISM IS RACISM IS RACISM. I don’t care who does it or who calls it out. As I said in my last post, PETA was not racist to only veg* of color, they were racist to ALL People of Color.

    And who the hell do you think you are to tell anyone that they don’t have the right to criticise something? I suggest that you do some extensive studying on white privilege before you show your face on any more blogs written by POC.

    You may think that you’re an anti-racist, but your actions are far from it.

  27. Angel H. Says:

    *Sorry! Fixed tags:

    I feel like some of you are taking your frustrations with PETA out on me. Certainly, as a white woman I exert some privilege, but your anger really is misdirected. I did not dress up as a Klansman and I did not support PETA’s choice to do it, either. Moreover, I opposed the stunt publicly, as a vegan.

    First of all: You’re not exerting “some” privilege here. The fact that you believe that only certain people have the right to criticise your pet organization, that people who do live according to *your* standards have no right to speak out against such an atrocity, that you refuse to listen to anybody’s opinion but your own, shows an immense amount of privilege and outright disrespect to EVERY person of color who was triggered by that scene.

    I called PETA out on their Klansmen costumes days before the anti-vegan gang.

    I would give you a cookie, but I’m out of gluten-free baking mix.

    Besides (since you want to bring up Renee’s blog, I’ll go there), your first comment at Womanist Musings wasn’t “PETA shouldn’t have done this”. It was:

    “I suggest you watch a documentary about breeders before you jump to conclusions about how benign you think the AKC is..”

    You totally invalidated her own anger and hurt as a Black woman – and mine, for that matter – by telling her that they should be concentrated more on the AKC, than at PETA.

    And no, your analogy with the NRA doesn’t work. My argument isn’t that ALL criticism towards ALL groups should stay in-house.

    Remember how you called Renee a liar? Sticks and stones…

    PETA deserves criticism, but it should stay in-house, from VEGANS, not anti-vegans.

    RACISM IS RACISM IS RACISM. I don’t care who does it or who calls it out. As I said in my last post, PETA was not racist to only veg* of color, they were racist to ALL People of Color.

    And who the hell do you think you are to tell anyone that they don’t have the right to criticise something? I suggest that you do some extensive studying on white privilege before you show your face on any more blogs written by POC.

    You may think that you’re an anti-racist, but your actions are far from it.

  28. Renee Says:

    @Elaine ppl aren’t taking their frustrations out on PETA on you. What you are seeing is a response to your tool like behavior. Your commentary stinks of the same racial privilege that PETA’s campaigns do and this is why people get disgusted with you. I may be a meat eater but I certainly don’t advocate the abuse of any animal and I certainly would never try to justify the dehumanization of another human being.

  29. Wendy wrote: “the very first question out of someone’s mouth BEFORE he signs is: ‘are you with PeTA?’ Because if you are, he’s not going to sign.”

    So you answer “no,” get the signature, and move on. What’s the problem?

    People often say “PETA makes all animal advocates and vegans look bad” but the clear response is:

    PETA makes OTHER animal advocates and vegans look GOOD.

    Listen, the ball is rolling. More and more people are going vegan everyday. There’s more and more understanding of animal issues everyday. Whether this is because of PETA or despite PETA who knows?

    But the heart of the issue is that we can’t control PETA. We can criticize PETA, but we can’t control them. So… we decide how we want to react. When they do stuff like this, we can jump in and support dogs and attack the AKC by providing information to ignorant people or we can ignore the entire thing or we can attack PETA or we can attack each other… we have lots of options… we choose. We should choose wisely.

  30. Angel H. Says:

    People often say “PETA makes all animal advocates and vegans look bad” but the clear response is:

    PETA makes OTHER animal advocates and vegans look GOOD.

    Unfortunately, PETA is one of the most vocal animal rights groups out there. ALL animal advocates are, by default, being associated with PETA by most people.

    When they do stuff like this, we can jump in and support dogs and attack the AKC by providing information to ignorant people or we can ignore the entire thing or we can attack PETA or we can attack each other… we have lots of options… we choose. We should choose wisely.

    Remember how I said you weren’t being an anti-racist. This is the reason why.

    I don’t get to ignore the racist bullshit that goes on out there. It affects me, my family, my past, present, and future. My skin color doesn’t wash off.

  31. ThoughtCriminal Says:

    This is extremely ignorant and offensive.
    There are many places in my home state where the KKK is still very active and many people of color cannot travel freely without fear of encountering such people.

  32. johanna Says:

    Elaine, what the fuck? We’ve been here before. How does “we can attack PETA or we can attack each other… we have lots of options… we choose. We should choose wisely.” NOT translate to “stop complaining about race & get together & do some ‘real good’ for the animals”? Well, I choose wisely not to see people like you as allies because implying that caring about race & racism is just petty infighting is a fucked-up tactic.

  33. H Says:

    @elaine.

    People can choose not to accept the leaflets. They are not being bombarded with racism. The point here is NOT what PeTA does or doesn’t do for animals; it’s their use of racist tactics.

  34. Fire Fly Says:

    Elaine said:

    Here’s an analogy: Let’s say some feminist group made an ad that compared a sexist organization to a psychiatric facility. Let’s say anti-feminists criticized the feminists for being abilist. Sure, the abilist criticism is valid, but coming from anti-feminists, it’s tainted. It’s better if it comes from feminists.

    I call bullshit.

    First of all, Renee is not “anti-vegan”. Eating meat =/= “anti-vegan”. Your logic fails.

    Secondly, feminists not only have a political point of view about oppression, they are themselves oppressed, as women. No vegan is oppressed in the same way as animals, in the vegan political analysis of animal oppression. In fact, to say so would be disgustingly offensive, let alone factually wrong.

    The reason that oppressed groups of people have legitimate suspicions of criticisms coming from people privileged by their oppression is that it’s another way of privileged people to gain privilege at the expense of the oppressed. Vegans are not oppressed by virtue of their veganism, therefore non-vegans criticising AR and vegan groups’ tactics doesn’t contribute to the (non-existent) oppression of vegans for being vegan.

    What’s more, Renee’s post didn’t advocate meat-eating or supporting the practices of dog breeders as a consequence of PETA’s fucked up tactics. She sates very clearly “ I believe in preventing cruelty against animals but not at the cost of dehumanizing the weakest members of society.” The fact that you glossed over that to make accusations about Renee is just grossly out of line.

    Also, it’s pretty offensive of you to tell the authors of this blog who they should and shouldn’t link to. That’s your white privilege right there.

  35. prof susurro Says:

    I want to thank you for posting this and let all of your readers know that I have posted the contact info for PETA (one form for members, one for non-members) if you would like to let them know directly how offensive this behavior is (especially given that it is black history month).

  36. Brivari Says:

    Thanx for the info on petas latest disgusting idiocy. I’ve left a link to the page at the yahoo group veganview that I co-moderate.

  37. Joselle Says:

    I was away from my computer for several days and just got to see the many responses. I was scared to see some more “PETA does good for animals so just shut-up!” comments but the great many of y’all are just awesome and eloquent and so damn smart. Made my day.

  38. Ico Says:

    Renee has another post up about PeTA and their heterosexism/sexism:

    http://www.womanist-musings.com/2009/02/peta-goes-lesbian.html

    Now instead of just using women’s bodies to titillate men, they’re using lesbians’ bodies! Because that’s what lesbianism is about, you know; it is sexeh for teh menz.

  39. Alyson Says:

    PETA turns my stomach when they pull stunts like this. I recognize that an org with such great name recognition could make great changes for the better – but they seem to thrive on pulling these kinds of over the top offensive stunts. They seem to care about getting press more than about people’s lives. And I agree, they are a one issue org – never factoring in race or gender issues. Sometimes they do a great job – I loved their sea kittens campaign to point out specieism. But wearing KKK robes…that does nothing but cause hurt for people. PETA too often has their head up their own…well, you know.

  40. Angel H. Says:

    Because that’s what lesbianism is about, you know; it is sexeh for teh menz.

    Full of win!!

  41. Alicia Says:

    @ Haley. I can’t wait to leaflet with Vegan Outreach this upcoming March. I really like their materials because the leaflets they hand out aren’t “in your face, you’re an evil animal killer” type literature. It has a ton of educational information, nutrition info as well as AR info. They have some really well rounded literature.

    Contrary to what some people think from what I have heard from people who have been leafleted through Vegan Outreach is that the people who were leafleting were not in your face, they weren’t forcing you to take anything and were really open to dialog of all kinds. Leafleting at a college campus is hardly a cause for alarm to anyone. Party flyer’s are handed out all the time (i mean constantly!) and so is all sorts of other types of information. It’s part of the college culture at this point. I know of several people at GSU who have gone vegan because of the leafleting campaigns there.

  42. Alicia Says:

    Wendy I think you made some great great points. I was a vegetarian 4 years before going vegan and one of the biggest reasons for me not going vegan sooner was PETA. In no way did I want to be associated with them. When people ask you if you’re affiliated with PETA they’re not doing it to give you a high five they’re doing it to see if they need to get on their running shoes and sprint away. PETA’s website was able to give me some good info when I first went vegan but looking back they did more to confuse me than anything else.

    At the time, as a new vegan, I was still trying to figure out what things had animal products in them and what things were 100% vegan. What beauty products to use, type of veggie burger to buy, everything. PETA’s list of vegan foods actually includes foods with eggs in them because they feel that it’s a good idea to support companies who are at least trying. What a crock. Like I said, that did more to confuse me than anything else. With each stunt I grow more and more tired of PETA and I truly wonder what the point of this organization is at all. Like I stated earlier I’m going to stick AR groups who are making a real difference out there on the ground.

  43. Louche Says:

    Oh, my god. I am not a person of color, but have always just respected that I do not share or speak for or even understand the experience of such a person. If all the poc’s I know are offended by this kind of thing, it is surely offensive and unacceptable. Not that I would have approved of this stunt anyway as the KKK is frightening no matter who I am.

    I never identified with the naked women on PeTA’s website either. I don’t even identify as “lesbian.” But I really take this personally. I really feel this objectifies my experience more than naked women. I can say I have a better idea what you feel like when people of color are marginilized by PeTA.

  44. Lola Says:

    While PETA’s intentions are to help the animals, campaigns like this are just offensive and are doing more harm than good. Their tactic is to do something shocking to draw attention from the media, but they can still find something jaw-dropping that doesn’t disregard the feelings of other oppressed groups.

  45. supernovadiva Says:

    never liked peta. thought i was alone in that. glad there are other people who feels the same for the exact same reasons. long live the internet.

  46. famousandmiserable Says:

    “PETA, you don’t stand for me.”

    I agree. PETA is absolutely despicable and I know I am far from alone with my opinion.

  47. Louche Says:

    You know… I knew it wasn’t the best idea in the world, but I have continued to think of factory farms as concentration camps. I mean, in the literal sense of the term, they most certainly are. They are… concentrated… for labor, for nothing other than human gain. Not out of a desire to feed more humans, but out of a mindless, speciesist desire for profit.

    Well, anyway… I happened to be talking to a young Jew, my age. And I was saying that I forgive the Nazis, but I don’t apologize for them; they don’t need to be apologized for, but to be understood. As with this fellow’s case, they can’t necessarily BE apologized for because their actions have resulted in enough anguish that many people would not forgive them no matter what they did. He told me, “You don’t forgive genocide.” It is, therefore, up to the offended to forgive.

    I wasn’t prepared for what happened. I don’t think I was thinking of the Jews at all when it came out of my mouth that I forgive meat-eaters even though animals practically live in concentration camps. It was just an idea I had kept in my conversations with myself. He started shaking with anger and telling me how his grandparents were treated like animals and raped and so on and that making such a comparison was insensitive and “the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard” because “animals can’t feel anything.” I defended my position and realized it was going nowhere and left the room.

    He’s right. I was being insensitive, but it was partly because I was feeling upset myself by his anger and his own insensitivity. I was not thinking very deeply about the suffering of humans in concentration camps. And I cannot continue to make that comparison if it has no meaning for him and upsets him. If the other person cannot be the one to understand, then I have to be the one to understand because I am the one most capable of doing so… although I must admit that living in a meat-eating world is upsetting me a lot lately.

    So there you have it… I told him that I didn’t think human concentration camps were exactly the same as animal concentration camps, but similar, although he was so angry that I didn’t manage to explain in what sense they are similar other than that animals suffer. That conversation made me think about how they are different as well as similar. I don’t know exactly how they are different, but they are not the same as far as communication goes. So I will avoid making that comparison in the future.

    And that is a sad illustration of why we shouldn’t use these kinds of comparisons! Don’t do it because that wasn’t fun, even if I probably will never forget it!

  48. prof susurro Says:

    Louche, interestingly PETA did a campaign where they made the exact same comparison; dressing up as Nazis and passing out “concentration camp” fliers for the animals. My gf told me she had witnessed this when I told her about the KKK event. She said she could not turn in her membership to PETA over the KKK thing b/c she had already done so over the Nazi thing. I was horrified, having not seen nor heard about the Nazi event. What I think your experience illustrates vs. what PETA’s actions show is that you actually learned something from inadvertently dehumanizing a target group; you examined the privilege that allowed you to unhinge that specific and horrific event in history in order to make an analogy that by extension compares oppressed peoples to animals (which is exactly what Nazis and the Klan do) and mask the specific import of their oppression. PETA has yet to learn this lesson and as long as they remain self-righteous about the myth that vegan politics means they cannot participate in oppression or be guilty of oppression, they never will. Ultimately, they have sided with racism by refusing to learn or be critical about their actions, and in so doing they have ensured that both anti-racist white people and people of color are alienated from one of the most recognized faces of the movement.

  49. adam Says:

    Louche, you may be interested in reading Breeze Harper’s essay on the similar “Animal Liberation” exhibit. It elucidates exactly why both of you were feeling the anger you did. I’ve myself have had to come to terms with the tactic of analogy, and after much investigation, discussed why such analogies are potentially disastrous here.

  50. prof susurro Says:

    I just read the Harper essay and I have to say that I question the mobilization of another stigma (mental illness) in order to avoid the issue of racism in PETA’s work. Cultural trauma is real and it is something that poc contend with, it is not however an escape clause thru which PETA or anyone else can avoid addressing racism in the same way that calling someone who has identified the racism in these campaigns specist does not exempt them from racism even if the person may be guilty of specism. I always wonder about the motives behind someone who counters complaints of bigotry by calling someone a bigot or crazy, and I don’t think that the issue is mediated in anyway just b/c the author in question is a women of color. I also worry about the way that calling out racism is presented as “stuck” in a time period in which racism was “worse” as if bringing up the history of racism as evidence of the hurt mobilizing racist images to make a point about animal rights (or anyone’s rights) is a sign of fixidity that is itself wrongheaded. The Klan is not a thing of the past, I passed a swastika scribbled outside a well-known immigrant area just yesterday and neo-nazis are one of the largest growing organizations in both N. American prisons and Russia and are making a huge comeback in parts of Canada. When we are not allowed to talk about the past or the present when addressing racism b/c we are either “stuck in cultural trauma” or somehow closed to seeing this brave new racism freeworld by people on the left it just further alienates poc from liberal politics and perpetuates a cycle in which racism exists unchecked on the left and poc are left to be “added in” or in pereceived as perpetually in reaction to the actions of perpetually innocent [white] liberals. This is how movements lose allies and why we have to same the same conversations. It such a waste of energy that could be spent actually addressing animal cruelty and human oppression without oppressing anyone else . . .

  51. Louche Says:

    prof susurro, I don’t think I was dehumanizing a group so much as a) not being sensitive enough and b) humanizing other species in some sense. The guy I was talking to took it to mean I was dehumanizing a group.

    Breeze Harper’s essay is really interesting. Especially how she refers to racial trauma and covert/overt power. I think I did exercise covert power there, whereas he exercised overt power. But I think that both sides have experienced some sort of trauma because I certainly do feel traumatized by the human treatment of nonhuman animals. Just because I am human and may bear some sort of racial privilege does not mean that I cannot be traumatized by the experience of nonhumans. I think that it’s in everyone’s best interest if I seek to understand his trauma as well as my own.

  52. prof susurro Says:

    I think you’ve misread her discussion of covert and overt as she does not ascribe either to people experiencing racism. Nor do I see how saying something is racist and then explaining how is an exercise of power in the sense I think you are using it. Rather it is an exercise of becoming empowered, ie claiming the right to name your abuse and to refuse its continuation even in groups that might otherwise be allies or friends.

    W/ regards to empathy, let me try to put it in a different context. I am not Jewish. when I see or teach Holocaust images, I am horrified and I empathize with Jewish people and what they have gone through. I do not elevate that empathy or the trauma that it causes me to the actual experience of antisemitism and being targeted for extermination. If I were to do so, I would expect someone to call me out as I have no right to colonize nor internalize the oppression of others. Instead, my empathy should motivate me to be an ally against anti-semitism and hopefully to become more compassionate about all oppressions.

    As I said in my previous comment, there is a basic choice here, you can fight for animal rights in a non-racist way or you can continue to argue that you cannot be racist b/c you are a liberal fighting for a liberal cause. Sadly, most people choose the later and the result, as I also keep saying, is fracture in movements and ineffective activism. It seems so basic to me that you can mobilize a campaign for animal rights that does not involve nazis, klan, or naked women in cages, that is equally effective. The reticence of the animal rights movement to let go os these oppressive tactics, to justify their use, and worse to attempt to silence or stigmatize those who would call for anti-racist and anti-sexist social activism with labels of oppressor, crazy, or the real one weilding power, makes me question what actually motivates the movement and what kind of world they envision in practice (not ideologically).

    We can either work toward change that honors the resilience of all creatures and respects the oppressions they have or continue to go through or we can have movements that say “my cause” trumps all other understandings of “those causes over their.” “My hurt matters more than yours.” Mistakes get made either way, but at least a commitment to decolonized praxis would mean that when they do, people talk it out and learn a more inclusive and connected way to organize not that they push their backs against their chosen corner and lash out, however reasoned, until people go away so they can keep on doing it the same old way.

    How entrenched do certain ideologies have to be for people to be made aware of how they are alienating allies from the movement/preventing the message from reaching people and to respond by continuing to use oppressive tactics when a whole array of other tactics are available to them? Social Justice activism is never comfortable but looking poc in the face when they tell you something is racist, and give you examples as to why, and assuming their discomfort is actually closeted bigotry toward animals and you have done nothing wrong is the ultimate exercise of privilege and it is an exercise that places the innocence of the movement over the very cause it is fighting for.

  53. Jon Says:

    Not the worst thing from the animal rights movement.

    http://www.dickshovel.com/anti.html

  54. Louche Says:

    Wow, Jon. Kind of horrifying. That Jewish guy I argued with, he ironically says both, “You don’t forgive genocide,” and “Andrew Jackson was a great president.”

    Reading “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” it says, “If animals are the absent referent in the the phrase ‘the butchering of women,’ animals are the absent referent in the phrase ‘the rape of animals.’” Though, with PETA’s blunt tactics, one would be inclined to think that animals are the absent referent, and racism – not race – the present one. A little bit later, Carol Adams says, “Consumption is the fulfillment of oppression, the annihilation of will, of separate identity…consumed, [the object] exists only through what it represents. The consumption of the referent reiterates its annihilation as a subject of importance in itself.”


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