Animals, James Baldwin, and the “Appropriation” of Others’ Suffering

Species and Class

jon h

By Jon Hochschartner

It’s an endless debate, inside and outside the animalist movement, whether it’s acceptable to compare animal exploitation to the worst human injustices, such as slavery and the Holocaust. Those who criticize such comparisons say they are appropriative, and, especially in the case of the slavery analogy, insensitive, as violence and oppression against marginalized people is generally preceded by dehumanization.

This debate perhaps most came to the fore in 2003 and 2005, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched high-profile campaigns making such comparisons. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League said the Holocaust analogy was “outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights.” In response to the slavery analogy, the director of the Intelligence Project with the Southern Poverty Law Center said, “Black people in America have had quite enough of being compared to animals without PETA joining in.”

I’d like to address the question…

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