The self-described "complete press sluts" at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were forced recently to cease their reprehensible publicity campaign comparing animals to African American slaves. Like its offensive "Holocaust on Your Plate" project, which equated chickens with victims of the Nazis, PETA's "Animal Liberation" exhibit has been roundly condemned by newspaper editorial pages and civil rights leaders. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorialized:
It seems ironic that people who want to be known for the ethical treatment of animals would be tone deaf when it came to humans. But PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — is nothing if not consistently ham-handed in its relationship with minorities who happen to walk erect.
The Los Angeles Times editorial page argued:
What is especially insulting about PETA's campaign is the heinous historical pedigree of comparisons between slaves and animals. The argument that blacks and Native Americans were inferior animal-like beings was one of the justifications behind human enslavement and forced labor.
If it wants to be more effective at getting its message across, PETA will have to embrace a second meaning for its acronym – People for the Ethical Treatment of Analogies.
A spokesman for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) condemned PETA's campaign, saying:
PETA shows that it is willing to exploit racism to advance its cause. Is PETA saying that as long as animals are butchered for meat, racists should continue lynching Black people?
The American Jewish Congress (AJC) was another outraged voice. The group stated:
The AJC totally rejects the analogy PETA has constructed by placing images of the enslavement, lynching and burning of black men, highlighting one of the most shameful periods of American history, side by side with the harsh treatment of farm animals … [PETA] has the responsibility not to trivialize slavery or the Holocaust by false analogies.
Even an animal rights activist took PETA to task for its campaign, noting the group's own apparent color barrier:
A group of predominantly white people expropriating images of Black torment — images belonging to a sacred history of agony, survival, and resistance — for their own cause, however just, is a setback to both causes.
This overwhelming public rebuke comes at a bad time for PETA, which is set to celebrate 25 years of animal-rights fanaticism.