Hitler would have approved of Peta, the creepy animal rights fanatics

Ed West

Ed West is a journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture. He is @edwestonline on Twitter.

As a rule I never support any group that uses nudity as a form of protest, nor anyone who compares their opponent to the Nazis. Which is why I have always disliked the animal rights group Peta, up to their old tricks protesting outside Jamie Oliver's restaurant.

Hitler: vegetarian?  (Photo: Smabs Smutzer)
I despise animal rights protesters, to be honest. I hate the ill-treatment and industrial farming of animals, and I'm glad that ethical consumers have helped to improve their lot. My brother became a vegetarian after reading an account of factory farming in Britain, and some of the stories make horrific reading. (It also makes a mockery of the BNP campaign against halal meat, which echoes the Polish anti-semitic campaign to get kosher slaughter banned in 1938, a bill that the future Pope Pius XII helped to stop. Halal and kosher methods are far more humane than most industrial methods.)
I take the Old Testament view that man's job is guardian and protector of the animals. I also agree that we are going to have to cut down on meat use if we are to feed the human race, and that means making it more expensive.
But the idea that animals have "rights" is sentimental, childish and ultimately evil. Peta has done one or two good things in the past. But its fundamental philosophy is warped and extreme, and there are a number of things that make me oppose them.
There is their use of nudity, especially by supermodels, a form of passive-aggressive bullying, and the fact that they rely on celebrity supporters such as Pamela Anderson, Jamie Lee Curtis or Sir Paul McCartney, always a flashing red light.
But it is their innate shrillness that grates the most, and their inability to put things in proportion. In 2003 Ingrid Newkirk wrote to Yasser Arafat complaining that he had used a donkey in an attack on Israel soldiers. Never mind that many of the young kids Yasser sent to their deaths had about as much understanding of the conflict as that donkey, and never mind that thousands of Palestinians and Israelis had been killed, what about donkey-wonkey?
"Animals claim no nation," she wrote. "For animals, there is no Geneva Convention and no peace treaty – just our mercy."
What a cultural imperialist! For all she knows the donkey willingly laid down its life and is in paradise right now with 76 donkey virgins, lying around in hay and eating carrots or whatever else donkeys enjoy doing.
Their most disgusting campaign was called "Holocaust on your plate", which juxtaposed images of intensive farming with pictures of the Final Solution.
How offensive can they get? The man behind the campaign was Jewish, which gave them some cover, but can they not see that such images dehumanise the victims of the Holocaust, who were dehumanised quite enough in their lifetime. Where is their sense of proportion? Factory farming is terrible, but put it in perspective.
It is strange because the Nazis are the animal rights lobby's Achilles' heel. A guaranteed way for a newspaper to overload its inbox with threatening and whining emails is to mention that Hitler was a vegetarian. "How dare you," they will say, "he occasionally ate meat. He was one of you!"
Maybe, but Hitler certainly mocked meat eaters, and if I ran a newspaper I would make it a rule that any article about vegetarians must have a picture of Hitler next to it with the caption: "Hitler: vegetarian."
The Third Reich was in favour of animal rights. Nazi Germany was the first country to ban fox hunting and the first to outlaw animal vivisection (they did, after all, have an alternative supply). They even banned the boiling of lobsters as cruel.
OK, I know I just said that you shouldn't compare an enemy to the Nazis, but people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And the Nazis' attachment to animal rights reminds us that being sentimental about animals, rather than being simply humane, is not a sign of compassion and virtue, but of psychopathic emotional retardation.