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15 July 2003

Jewish groups are objecting to a PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) advertisement comparing the treatment of animals being sent to slaughter with the treatment of Holocaust victims. Admittedly, I am pro-animal rights, and admittedly, I am not Jewish nor closely related to anyone who suffered or died in the Holocaust. But surely, the reason that the treatment of Jews and other Holocaust victims was so morally repugnant was precisely that they were treated like animals. They were denied "human" rights and "human" dignity. The same theme is knowingly and unashamedly used in Toni Morrison's masterpiece Beloved to show the analogy between slavery and the treatment of animals.

Well, in my opinion, and in the opinion, I feel sure, of PETA, and in the writings of many great spiritual teachers, the next step in the moral ascent to enlightenment is the realisation that if such treatment of humans is abhorrent because it is like the treatment of animals, what does that make the treatment of animals if not abhorrent? Quod erat demonstrandum. I think PETA have got it absolutely right, and that the Holocaust victims are glorified, not shamed, by this analogy.

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