The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, March 05, 2003  

Even for PETA, This is Going Too Far


Thus blares the headline of a February 24 press release from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The text of the release is equally revolting:

PETA wants to stimulate contemplation of how the victimization of Jews, Gypsies [sic], homosexuals [sic], and others characterized as "life unworthy of life" during the Holocaust parallels the way that modern society abuses and justifies the slaughter of animals.

Just as the Nazis tried to "dehumanize" Jews [Ed.: And Gypsies [sic] and homosexuals [sic], I presume? Or have we forgotten them already?] by forcing them to live in filthy, crowded conditions, tearing children away from their mothers, and killing them in assembly-line fashion, animals on today’s factory farms are stripped of all that is enjoyable and natural to them and treated as nothing more than meat-, egg-, and milk-producing "machines."

Fred S. Zeidman chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council called the campaign a "desecration of Holocaust memory":

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is appalled by PETA's utterly shameless and contemptible public relations campaign equating the millions of men, women[,] and children murdered in the Holocaust to animals.

This organization has chosen to ignore common decency and desecrate the memory of Holocaust victims, survivors[,] and their families in its perverted effort to generate headlines. . . .

We urge PETA to halt this campaign and find an appropriate way to build support for its goals. An organization so concerned about inflicting pain on animals should not be so oblivious to the pain it is inflicting on humans.

Well, PETA, I'm not Jewish, so you haven't asked for my approval, but this is an issue about which I feel pretty strongly myself, and with good reason, so I'll tell you what I think.

Mr. Zeidman is right. This campaign is despicable. It is the moral equivalent of spraying graffiti on the walls of Auschwitz.

And it is infantile, which, of course, means it's just another day at the office for PETA.

This latest disgrace has all the hallmarks of a PETA campaign: It's too clever by half.

Note the group's bold-text reliance on supporting quotes from prominent Jews. (But not Gypsies [sic] or homosexuals [sic].)

Note PETA's rush to promote the campaign as one "funded by a Jewish philanthropist who has spent the past 25 years affiliated with the world's foremost Holocaust organizations," as if one man with fringey views gives PETA the stamp of approval of an entire people.

Note PETA's supplying a quote from staffer Matt Prescott with the touching yet vague addition: "members of whose family were murdered by the Nazis."

The usual scenario: A ruckus ensues. PETA perhaps apologizes. And a free ride and a good time was had by . . . PETA.

[Post-publication addendum (March 6): And while I have your attention on this, direct it to Meryl Yourish, who blogged wisely on this very subject.]

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