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Vegans Against PETA
This is a blog for animal rights activists who are concerned about the misogynist, racist, homophobic and transphobic tactics used by PETA.   
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
And now they malign the Inuit people...

This is an inukshuk

See that image above? Beautiful, isn't it? It's an inukshuk, a monument of unworked stones that Canada's Inuit people use for communication and survival in the harsh climate in which they live. The meaning of the inukshuit (the plural form of inukshuk) are "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path." If it puts you in mind of a human pointing the way, that's not just a coincidence -- "Inukshuk" in the Inuit language means "in the likeness of a human." Inukshuit are used, among other things, to point the way to channels where boats can navigate, to food sources, to shelters and campsites and as milestones.

Now, if you're at peace with this image, if you find it beautiful, important and meaningful, stop reading, at least for a while so this image has a chance to seep into your mind. You probably already know, but PETA's about to ruin it for you.

See, the Inukshuk was recently chosen as the symbol for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. PETA, being all disgruntled at Canada's annual seal hunt, has of course decided to use the occasion of the Olympics to make a statement about the hunt -- never mind that they've never slammed, say, the UK, China, Australia or other countries when they host the Olympics despite the fact that those countries all engage in just as much, if not more, animal cruelty as Canada.

Part of their campaign is that they've re-worked the Olympic logo with the rings to have blood dripping from one of the rings, which has caught the ire of the lawsuit-happy Olympics organizing committee. I could really give two craps about PETA's version of the Olympic rings. The only people it hurts are people who have plenty of money, anyhow. Of course, PETA didn't stop there. Why would they? So far they've only mildly hurt the feelings of some wildly privileged people. And we can't have that! For PETA wouldn't be PETA if they weren't working tirelessly to oppress the oppressed and portraying indigenous people as savages who beat on cute animals:

This is total disrespect for Inuit culture

Yes, they really went there. And they really don't give a crap and are spouting the pathetic-ass excuse that the Olympic committee has already cheapened the inukshuk by using it for the 2010 logo. This is despite the fact that when the inuksuk logo was unveiled as the Olympic symbol, Inuit Tapirit Kanatami president Mary Simon said it was great, so clearly the Olympics' use of the symbol does have the support of an important part of the Inuit community.

And anyhow, just because the Olympics committee decided to use the inukshuk doesn't mean PETA should (further?) cheapen it by making a logo that tries to get people to have a negative association with an important and little-known Inuit symbol. After all, will the average person looking at that think, "Oh, it's an animal rights argument AND an edgy commentary on the co-optation of an Inuit cultural symbol!" or are they going to think, "Hmmm, Inuit symbol doing something a lot of people find brutal, therefore Inuit people must do it themselves and are brutal?" If you know anything about the human mind and enduring historical attitudes toward indigenous people, and if you've actually looked at that damn PETA logo, people are going to go for interpretation number two first. Furthermore, PETA claims they're not against people like the Inuit who hunt for subsistence, but this type of stunt just guarantees that any criticism of seal hunting will be deflected from commercial seal hunters onto indigenous hunters.

I'm sure PETA thought of the negative ramifications of co-opting the inukshuk but simply didn't care. After all, when have they given a crap about the commodification of other cultures? Was it when they compared pictures of black men being hung in lynchings to slaughterhouses, or when they compared pictures of Jews in concentration camps to slaughterhouses by using pictures they essentially stole from the Holocaust museum? In the context of PETA's previous actions and their unwillingness to respect or form coalitions with human rights groups, this is nothing but racism and willful ignorance; PETA has no interest in learning about other issues or other cultures, and they certainly don't care about respecting oppressed people. After all, if they wanted to make a statement about seal hunting in connection with the Olympics, they could have had an image of the Canadian maple leaf dripping with blood, or they could have taken any number of other Canadian symbols that are NOT specifically connected to indigenous cultures and made a statement with those. Instead, they've done this, and since I hadn't yet seen the Olympic symbol and I've never seen an inukshuk before, PETA's "symbol" was the first glimpse I've had of any type of inukshuk, which makes me really, really sad.

THIS is an inukshuk
posted by The Venerable Vegan Empress @ 3:20 PM  

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Name: The Venerable Vegan Empress
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If you have any ideas for an article here or would like to write a post, I'd love that! I work full time, volunteer and take classes at my city's university, so I don't work on this project nearly as often as I'd like. Just send me a comment with your contact info -- I approve all comments before posting, so if you include info that you don't want published let me know and I won't publish your comment.
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