The latest ally of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) serves as a strong reminder as to why everyone hates PETA — and whey their hatred is wholly justified.
PETA has applauded and teamed up with white supremacist Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Why? He cut meat out of prisoners’ diets — because he claimed meat is “too expensive,” not because he cares about vegetarianism.
Arpaio, the “nuevo-fascist” sheriff, has spearheaded an overtly racist anti-immigrant, anti-Latin@ campaign in Maricopa County, Arizona for years.
A Department of Justice report found that Arpaio “oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in US history.”
As others have pointed out, Arpaio has
- forced imprisoned women to sleep in their own menstrual blood,
- assaulted pregnant women,
- stalked Latina women,
- criminalized being Latin@,
- criminalized living next to criminals,
- systematically ignored rape and sexual abuse,
- widely used racial slurs,
- randomly and unlawfully detained innocent Latin@s,
- collectively punished Latin@s,
He cares so little about the disproportionately brown and black human beings he has thrown in jail that he wants to cut back spending on their diet. The white racists at PETA see this as a “victory” for non-human “animal rights,” and have no problem supporting this.
Once again, this kind of reactionary infantile politics is exactly why so many people don’t like PETA. Their policymakers and advertisers really need to look up intersectionality.
A Long History of Reactionary Politics
This is not the first time PETA has engaged in such questionable behavior. Not by any means. PETA has a long and nightmarish history of eyebrow-raising acts of reactionary political incompetence.
PETA has constantly demonstrated that it is a misogynist, racist, bourgeois organization that pays no attention to other forms of oppression beyond humans’ oppression of non-human animals.
Here is a PETA ad “joking” about a woman being harmed by her boyfriend.
PETA has also compared inhumane factory farming of non-human animals to the mass extermination of human beings in the Nazi Holocaust, dressed up as members of the KKK, fat-shamed, fearmongered about Autism, and more.
When a newborn child died of Swine flu, PETA put up this billboard outside of the hospital where he was born.
When a man in Manitoba, Canada was killed, beheaded, and partially eaten, PETA tried to run this ad in a local newspaper. (The publication rejected it.)
No one likes PETA because it has horrible politics. Even vegans hate PETA. I have been a vegan for years and I loathe the reactionary organization.
In PETA’s myopic, limited view of non-human animal rights, going vegetarian or vegan is the “solution.” The fact that the systems of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, racism, patriarchy, and more are inherently anti-animal rights (for both humans and non-humans alike) is not important to them.
Putting Non-Human Animal Rights over Human Rights
The problem with PETA is that it treats horrific crimes against human beings as if they were morally equivalent to humans’ cruelty toward non-human animals, and consistently goes so far as to even elevate non-human animal rights above human rights.
When Hurricane Katrina rampaged through New Orleans in 2005 and when the 2006 Lebanon War broke out, PETA sent workers to rescue animals. Not humans, animals.
Over 1,800 Americans died in Hurricane Katrina. They were disproportionately people of color who lived in poverty. But PETA clearly valued the lives of their pets more.
In its 2006 attack on Lebanon, Israel killed approximately 1,200 Lebanese citizens, injured thousands, and displaced over a million. Israel also intentionally destroyed civilian infrastructure, reducing swaths of cities to rubble. According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Israel engaged in war crimes and intentionally targeted civilian areas.
Yet wait, there’s more!
Well, you can never say that PETA shies away from controversy. True to form, we’re leaping into the fray — figuratively, and almost literally — by attempting to bring a message of nonviolence to the Middle East.
We’re requesting that the Israeli Defense Ministry allow us to post a pro-vegetarian mural on both sides of the barriers that separate Israelis and Palestinians on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The image we’ve proposed portrays Israeli and Palestinian families having dinner together under the words “Give Peas a Chance” and “Nonviolence Begins on Your Plate: Go Vegetarian” in English, Arabic, and Hebrew.
This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to promote a nonviolent diet in the Middle East. In 2005, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk traveled to Bethlehem to address the International Nonviolence Conference. Her speech, titled “Nonviolence Includes Animals” (which you really should see), marked the first time that anyone had ever been invited to discuss animal rights at an international peace conference.
I know what you’re thinking — choosing falafel over lamb chops isn’t going to create peace in the Middle East overnight. But if we can inspire people to relate to the animals who wind up on their plates, maybe we can also inspire them to relate to the people on the other side of the barriers.
PETA has constantly petitioned the Israeli government to do things like ban the fur trade. What it never mentions in its statements is the Israeli government’s systematic campaign of murder, occupation, and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population.
PETA puts its limited, reactionary definition of non-human animal rights above all other political issues.
The reality is that PETA cares about all animals but humans.
It is sometimes quipped that PETA is the Westboro Baptist Church of the non-human animal rights movement. This is actually pretty darn accurate.
Originally published at BenNorton.com on 25 April 2015.