While the Government Continues Attacks on Activists, Animal Rights Groups Protest Each Other

by Will Potter on August 5, 2008

in Activism & Activists' Response

Victoria News, Dunc Malcolm

Forget the Green Scare, these animal rights activists are busy protesting other animal rights activists.

In the 1960s, COINTELPRO was a sweeping government program to monitor, manipulate and disrupt progressive social movements in the United States, including antiwar activists, the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement and Martin Luther King. As part of COINTELPRO, the government created fake publications, placed anonymous calls, and forged letters from prominent activists. This was all intended to pit activists and organizations against each other, and through that to neutralize these movements.

In other words: let them tear themselves apart from within.

So when I saw that Friends of Animals, an animal rights group, is protesting PETA, another animal rights group, I couldn’t help but think: Damn, the FBI couldn’t have dreamed this up.

As a bit of background, PETA has plenty of corporate enemies. They’ve been called “corporate terrorists,” they’ve been called the “number one domestic terrorist threat,” and they’ve been called “undistinguishable from al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah.”

While corporations and corporate politicians call PETA “extremist,” some activists are now saying PETA isn’t extreme enough. Its recent, historic negotiation with KFC has come under fire as being “welfarist.” Add to that the fact that PETA often uses media stunts like ladies in lettuce bikinis handing out free vegetarian food, and you have the background for this protest.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this at first. But then I saw Mary Martin’s blog post, and how many people left comments supporting the counter-protest.

I was shocked. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act labels attacking corporate profits as “terrorism,” the SHAC 7 are in prison for running a controversial website, the FBI is infiltrating vegan potlucks, and on and on and on… but the best use of time and money for an animal rights group is to protest another animals rights group?

To steal a line from Propagandhi: “With friends like this, who the f* needs COINTELPRO.”

To be clear, I think it’s important to have discussions of both tactics and end goals. And I think it’s important to not gloss over strategic and ideological differences. But in this political climate, one where activists are being labeled as “terrorists” and the planet is approaching environmental collapse, I think it’s essential to think strategically, and focus energy and resources where they are needed most. Am I the only one who thinks that protesting another activist group shouldn’t be the top of anyone’s list?

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