Last week, IWF Senior Policy Analyst Patrice Onwuka was featured on Trish Regan’s Primetime show on Fox to discuss PETA’s new and insane claims that drinking milk is supportive of white supremacy. Yes, you read that right. PETA actually says you’re racist if you drink…milk.
Cows' milk has long been a symbol used by white supremacists.
— PETA (@peta) October 19, 2018
Let’s just forget the health aspects of drinking milk–like that it’s good for bone health and contains a whole lot of vitamins and nutrients and protein that’s important for kids. Let’s just ignore that it’s a relatively affordable source of calories. Oh, and let’s just forget that it tastes good.
None of that matters. What’s really driving you to the dairy aisle is your secret hatred of people of color. Uh huh.
Patrice was brilliant on the program (see the video here); pointing out that PETA has a history of these publicity stunts. She also made the important point that by promoting this loony theory, PETA is trying to urge black Americans to steer clear of this important and affordable source of nutrients.
PETA responded to Patrice appearance on Fox in a letter, defending themselves by saying even the New York Times has explored this connection between milk and white supremacy. And while, yes, the Times did do a story on white supremacist groups fixation on milk, the paper did not in any way imply that by drinking milk, one embraces that way of thinking.
PETA then went on to disparate the dairy industry and dairy farmers by suggesting cows are raped for milk. The letter states that:
…cows in the dairy industry are restrained on what the farmers themselves call "rape racks" while insemination instruments are shoved into their vaginas. Their calves are taken away immediately after birth so that their mothers' milk can be consumed by humans instead, and mother cows have been heard calling out for their stolen children for days. This is exploitation and sexual violence, and PETA's point is that while the victims may be different from us in many ways, they still have the ability to suffer.
First of all, in my time working with farmers—including dairy farmers—I’ve never heard the phrase “rape racks.” Nor are the cows raped. The suggestion is insulting not just to dairy farmers but to people who have endured actual rape. Instead of violent rape, cows are artificially inseminated using a small straw-sized tube in a secure and clean environment. Check out this dairy farmer’s description here: https://www.dairyfarmers.ca/farmers-voice/farming/milk-myths-debunked-dairy-is-scary-or-not
And while this might not jibe with our Disney-style vision of how animals behave, cows don’t see their offspring the same way as humans do. Cows are not capable of human-like behavior. And while it might seem cruel to separate a calf from it’s mother, in many cases, this has helped calves survive those early days. Annalise of Modern Day Farm Chick blog explains this in a post on the topic:
Dairy farmers don’t separate a calf from its mom to be cruel or to immediately start “pumping milk from the cow”, like many animal activists lead you to believe. We do it so that the cow and the calf can both get the best care possible.
Back in the day, dairy farmers DID keep calves with their moms and the rest of the adult herd. Guess what happened? Calves got sick, some even died. There were cows that didn’t properly care for their newborns and cows that didn’t produce quality colostrum that the calf requires. Other issues such as ventilation and calves ingesting their mother’s manure occurred. Farmers realized that this method wasn’t working; they needed to do something different to ensure that their calves and cows lived long, healthy lives. Since the domestication of the cow nearly 10,000 years ago, years and years of research as gone into how to raise a healthy cow and calf.
PETA’s letter ends by suggesting milk is the reason humans develop heart disease to prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer. Yet, many things cause heart disease, and various cancers and to pin those diseases entirely on milk alone is just silly and isn’t supported by the scientific research in either of these areas of disease prevention and treatment.
PETA is an extreme animal rights organization that uses the most vile, exaggerated language to try to sway opinion. Mostly, people laugh at PETA and dismiss them as unhinged. Yet, some will worry when they see these sorts of claims.
It’s important to push pack on this narrative and keep PETA marginalized as the radicals they are. I’m glad Patrice was able to do that. PETA’s response was as weak as the so-called link between milk and racism