PETA Accused Of Comparing Black Americans To Animals


Since the rise of the #Blacklivesmatter movement in the United States, those who have tried to downplay discrimination against African Americans have responded with their own slogan. All lives matter, they have retorted.

Today, the aggressive animal welfare lobby group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), seems to have taken the catch-cry to a whole new level.

This week marks what would have been the 91st birthday of African American activist and thinker Malcolm X, had he not been assassinated in 1965. The anniversary was accompanied by a smattering of coverage relating to the now legendary figure, and PETA obviously saw a chance to get among the action, tweeting a Malcolm X quote to help promote their cause.

But if the notoriously attention seeking organisation thought this would endear their cause to those concerned with the fight for civil rights, they were mistaken.

To begin with, the quote was lacking some important context. It’s taken from Malcolm X’s autobiography, published shortly after his murder. The full quote finishes like this:

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

That last line, which places a concern for humanity as the ultimate value, is a little awkward for PETA, needless to say. Far worse for the organisation, however, was the assumption many made that they were trying to equate the animal welfare and civil rights movements. The initial Tweet was subsequently inundated with critical responses and allegations of racism.  

PETA tried to respond, but to little effect.

The organisation probably wasn’t helped by its infamous past stunts. In one campaign, the group compared factory farms to Auschwitz, running the tag line “To animals, all people are Nazis.” In another, campaigners dressed as Klu Klux Klan members while protesting a dog show.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.