PETA and the (Animal) Right

The disunion that sees environmental and social justice as issues separate from veganism is the same thinking that is apparent in PETA's atrocious anti-immigration ad. Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of Vegan (sic) Campaigns for PETA, justifies the White supremacist ad by claiming:

PETA doesn't have a position on immigration; we focus solely on promoting animal rights. However, people on both sides of the immigration debate can support PETA's pro-vegetarian ad because the revenue would help reduce the cost of the fence for taxpayers and promote healthier eating, resulting in lower health care costs.

PETA's "focus solely on promoting animal rights" is not about promoting veganism. As a movement, veganism necessitates honoring the efforts of all anti-oppression movements who are striving to achieve the liberation of human and nonhuman animals alike. Regardless, Rajt betrays PETA's own proclaimed neutrality by evoking Right-wing arguments regarding taxes and health care costs. Nothing in the ad, or PETA's defense of the ad, makes any point for the rights of nonhuman animals. And while in a very narrow sense the ad is "pro-vegetarian," it is also very much anti-vegan.

No anti-oppression activist or organization would support PETA's scheme to subsidize/privatize the oppression of non-citizens. The ad clearly makes light of the violence non-citizens, and even citizens who are people of color, experience via the Border Patrol and anti-immigration policies. And while there are legitimate cases that can be made about health care, this would require carefully addressing the effects of inequality and oppression on health. As it is, the PETA ad does little more than reinforce anti-immigration propaganda blaming im/migrants for rising taxes and health care costs, which usually leads to an attack on public health programs in general and calls for increased privatization.

PETA has routinely aligned itself with the Right, having worked with McDonald's executives, Operation Rescue, the US military, and now the Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. But when it comes to working for anti-oppression and with fast-food workers, reproductive health organizations, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, or Mexican im/migrants PETA's "focus is solely on promoting animal rights." (And if we're honest, PETA doesn't even really support rights for nonhuman animals.)

Re: PETA and the (Animal) Right

people on both sides of the immigration debate can support PETA's pro-vegetarian ad because the revenue would help reduce the cost of the fence for taxpayers

What? That is nonsensical. Is PETA so out of touch that they don't realize people oppose the wall--regardless of who funds it?

Re: PETA and the (Animal) Right

PETA: reaching for new lows...

Re: PETA and the (Animal) Right

This is crazy--how can you ever say PETA is anti-vegan? They've done more for animals than any other group out there, and made more vegans, myself included. If it weren't for PETA's undercover investigations and outreach I would have never become vegan--much less vegetarian. Easy to criticize from the blogosphere, but I think you have to mature and appreciate how difficult it is to get PR for worthy causes these days.

Furthermore--google Lindsay Rajt and look at her background--she has worked for other social justice orgs. including ACORN which fights for immigrant rights (at least according to the myspace profile).

@ Anonymous

Anonymous, regardless of whatever PETA has accomplished, it's important to also examine all that they are hindering. Think about how many people have been turned off from veganism because of PETA's sexism, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. Think about all of the missed opportunities for coalition campaigns that have been destroyed--and not just with PETA, but with any vegan activist who gets tarnished by association (as we all do despite our best efforts).

PETA came into existence about 40 years after the vegan movement and they've co-opted it for their own ends (i.e., power and self-preservation). The Vegan Ideal is clearly not about sitting around complaining, but rather striving for something better. For people who do care about veganism, we have to wake up and stop letting PETA drive the bus--we need to stop supporting them altogether because they're so counter to what the rest of us are trying to achieve. (Which is a lot more than PR. It's about building a social justice movement, which is impossible to do if you keep alienating all of the other social justice movements or disregarding your own values as a "means to an end.")

It doesn't matter what Rajt did/does as an individual--she was speaking for an organization. And it's not about whether Rajt is a good person. White people always want to say that they have good intentions, and that's generally true. But good intentions are no excuse for unjust realities like the wall that Rajt and PETA endorsed.