Vegans of Color

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

Dolphin slaughter = Pearl Harbor? November 8, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 10:10 pm
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Eric at An Animal-Friendly Life posted recently about Hayden Panettiere’s direct action against the slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

His post included a photo of a protest he attended last year, which he wrote up in this post. The photo shows a banner (which, to his credit, Eric says he didn’t like) that says “1941 Pearl Harbor” and “2006 Dolphin SLAUGHTER” with a Japanese flag in the middle.

Pearl Harbor. Dolphin slaughter. I think that’s a really irresponsible comparison, & no, not out of speciesism — not because I think Pearl Harbor is more serious because it involved the deaths of humans (which I’m sure is the objection many people will make). No, I think it’s problematic because it is racially inflammatory. Remember what happened after Pearl Harbor (or maybe you never learned about it in school — I know I never did)? You know, the internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans? Because, as they said, a Jap’s a Jap. Japanese people will always be loyal to the emperor & can never be true Americans, no matter if they were born here, had ever been to Japan, spoke Japanese, etc. Seize their property & lock ’em up! (German Americans & Italian Americans did not receive the same treatment — sauerkraut got renamed “liberty cabbage,” but there were no internment camps.)

Think those sort of sentiments died off after World War II? Think again. I remember when that Pearl Harbor movie came out a few years ago; I took a look on some mainstream movie message boards & saw an astounding number of people spouting the same racial hatred: Japanese (like all us inscrutable Asians, let’s not forget) are perpetually foreign, Other, of dubious loyalty. And they’re sneaky — why else would they have done something like Pearl Harbor? So of course they deserved to get nuked, right?

Back to the banner — sneaky Japs are killing dolphins? Is that the message we’re supposed to get? What purpose is served by fanning the flames of this race hate? I also just don’t think the banner’s logic is effective: it seems to imply that killing dolphins, like Pearl Harbor, is an affront to the United States, & is something that the US would never engage in. Because animal slaughter never happens here, right?

What does rhetoric like the banner do for the dolphins? I’m not sure, but I can tell you this: ever wonder why there aren’t more people of color in the animal rights movement? Tactics like this are part of the reason why.


3 Responses to “Dolphin slaughter = Pearl Harbor?”

  1. Thank you for this post. I think you are right that it is racist, probably unintentional, but that didn’t matter.

  2. vegansofcolor Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Elaine. I agree that the intentions didn’t matter; one of the most pernicious attitudes about racism (or any of the other -isms), in my opinion, is that if a person didn’t mean to be -ist, then they weren’t & they’re not to blame for what they said. I feel pretty safe saying that I’ve never met someone who didn’t grow up socialized in a racist, sexist (etc.) society. Even those of us who are aware of this stuff still have to struggle against our socialization — it’s just that subtle & ingrained. Refusing to take responsibility for anything beyond conscious intent just doesn’t work.

  3. […] repeatedly — as you can see on Facebook & other places. I’m just waiting for the Pearl Harbor references to start […]

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