"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals knows how to grab attention. And show off its laundry. The animal rights group, which every year stages a protest at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, had two of its members dress in Ku Klux Klan garb outside Madison Square Garden on Monday.
Their goal, according to a post on the PETA website, was to draw a parallel between the KKK and the American Kennel Club. "Obviously it's an uncomfortable comparison," PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the Associated Press.
But the AKC is trying to create a "master race" when it comes to pure-bred dogs, he added. "It's a very apt comparison."
The group passed out brochures implying the Klan and AKC have the goal of "pure bloodlines" in common." [USA Today]
I'm sure PETA was very excited about the publicity that they knew they would get from this little stunt, but do you think any of them stopped for even a second to consider how the people walking down that New York City street would feel about being confronted by KKK symbolism? Were people supposed to somehow be less offended or upset because the PETA members aren't actually representatives of the KKK? Most people on that street aren't going to stop to chat and hear the explanation for the outfits, and in my opinion the alleged 'good intentions' don't make the protest any less offensive anyway.
Actually, where PETA is concerned those are probably the wrong questions. I'm sure they did think about how shocked and offended people would be and considered that a positive outcome because of the press coverage that would come along with it. I guess we were all supposed to buy into their half-assed comparison of the American Kennel Club to the KKK and then all of our outrage over their racist protest would transform into passion for animal rights. Or something. And if someone who saw the protest or the coverage of it ended up feeling triggered, afraid, angry, or hurt, PETA apparently thought of that as collateral damage at best and a necessary shock to the system at worst.
It's hard to grasp how an organization with a commitment to "ethical treatment" right in its name can repeatedly decide that their cause is so just that it gives them the right to mock other causes in the most twisted and painful ways they can think of if they feel that it serves them. It's okay to stage a fake KKK demonstration on a New York City street. Who cares how people of color might feel about it? They should all become vegetarians anyway! And hey, it's okay to stage a girl-on-girl make out tour to promote your claim that vegetarians have better sex. Who cares what LGBT activists are fighting for right now? If this undermines them, too bad! Naked women in plastic, or in cages? Why not! PETA's run by a woman, so they can't ever be sexist or harmful to women. Want to make a point about the slaughter of animals? It's okay to co-opt Holocaust imagery to do it! The ends justify the means, right?
PETA is into the idea that "animals are people too". Maybe someday they'll figure out that they'd be a better, more ethical, and more successful organization if they started with the principle that people are animals too. But I won't hold my breath.
~PETA Dresses Up As KKK (Womanist Musings)
~PETA Racism Goes Into Overload (Feministe)