You've seen pictures of Jews from the Holocaust: starving,
living skeletons, dead men walking, bloated stomachs protruding over
shrunken genitals. Or disease-ridden bodies, two to a bunk, no teeth, shaved
bald. Or piles and piles of bodies in a heap, Nazis standing nearby,
Now think of a cow. Or a chicken. Or a pig. You eat those
animals, don't you? You enjoy chicken marsala, or a nice juicy steak, or
pork rinds. Then, you're a Nazi, too. You might as well have shoved Jews
into gas chambers and then burned their bodies to ashes in ovens.
That's what People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
says. Its latest campaign, Holocaust On Your Plate, juxtaposes images of
Jews from the Holocaust with pictures of mistreated factory farm animals.
The stated purpose is to "(make) the public aware of the parallels between
the Jewish genocide of WWII and the horrific and inhumane treatment of
animals raised and slaughtered for food."
PETA calls the meat industry the "modern-day Holocaust." The
Holocaust On Your Plate campaign website, masskilling.com, asks: "Decades
from now, what will you tell your grandchildren when they ask you whose side
you were on during the 'animals' holocaust'?" While simultaneously showing
pictures of Jews in their camp barracks and chickens in cages, the website
slide show informs the viewer: "To animals, all people are Nazis."
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which PETA
illegally quotes on its website to justify its campaign, "vigorously
condemns" the exhibit as a "gross perversion." Rabbi Marvin Hier, the head
of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, calls
it "obscene." Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League describes it as
"outrageous, offensive and taking chutzpah to new heights."
This repulsive exhibit arrived at UCLA on Feb. 27. Enraged, I
called the PETA headquarters and spoke with Campaign Coordinator Andrew
Butler. Butler was extremely articulate and soft-spoken, but his words were
I asked Butler if PETA believes that meat-eaters are morally
comparable to Nazis. "It's the same sort of mind-set," he responded. Many
Holocaust survivors ate meat. By PETA's perverse logic, Holocaust victims
are morally equivalent to Nazis. Did Butler understand that by juxtaposing
Jewish Holocaust victims and pigs, PETA was minimizing both the Holocaust
and the value of human life? "It's understandable that people don't want
their suffering compared to the suffering of others," he answered. "It's one
way to deal with grief to claim that our suffering is unique. Unfortunately,
though, other animals do feel pain in the same way and to the same degree as
human beings do."
PETA has no problem using Jews for purposes of its own but
stands by silently when Jews are murdered in Israel. Only after the
Palestinians detonated bombs strapped to a donkey did PETA complain. PETA
President Ingrid Newkirk immediately fired off a letter to Yasser Arafat.
"If you have the opportunity, will you please add to your burdens my request
that you appeal to all those who listen to you to leave the animals out of
this conflict?" Newkirk pleaded. When asked by The Washington Post if she
"considered asking Arafat to persuade those who listen to him to stop
blowing up people as well" as animals, Newkirk flatly answered: "It's not my
business to inject myself into human wars."
I pressed Butler on this point. Why does PETA have so little
regard for Jews in Israel, yet feel no qualms about using Jewish Holocaust
victims to forward its cause? His answer: "As an organization, our mandate
is to speak up whenever animals are abused and whenever animals are caught
in the crossfire." However, he continued, "we care deeply about all beings,
regardless of species." How reassuring.
The most stunning moment of the interview came when I asked
Butler, who has a 6-year-old daughter: "If your child were, God forbid,
brutally murdered, would you feel comfortable allowing pictures of your
child's body to be placed on billboards alongside pictures of a slaughtered
chicken?" He replied, "I would say that if some good could come from my
child's death, then that would be a good thing ... " He would post a picture
of his murdered daughter on a billboard and equate her murder with the
slaughter of a chicken. How can any human being do that?
Human life and animal life are not comparable. While cruelty
toward animals is reprehensible and damnable, it is certainly not on a par
with genocide. Only a Nazi could equate the two. The Nazis equated Jews with
animals. In its Holocaust On Your Plate exhibit, PETA picks up where the
Nazis left off.