One of us is all of us: Morrissey’s racism and our reputation  »

Being part of a (self-selected) minority really makes you aware of your image outside of your group. When one of you says or does something brilliant, everyone gets to feel proud of that individual’s achievement; when someone pulls a ridiculous stunt (hello, Peta!), you’re left embarrassed and angry—it’s not just that individual’s or organization’s shame, it’s the whole group’s. Such is the way of the world, forever and ever.

So when we read things like this interview with animal-rights hero Morrissey, in which he decries the use of Canadian brown bear fur to make Beefeaters’ hats and awful treatment of animals in China, we’re happy that he keeps to his longtime message of humane treatment of animals. Unfortunately, he disappoints us, going on to disparage apparently all Chinese people ever because of “the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare,” and whoops, there goes his reputation and credibility. That’s our icon!

Of course this is a gross and stupid thing to say, and we’re sorry that Morrissey thinks that way. Plenty of us have relatives that hold racist beliefs without event understanding that those things they are saying are racist, which isn’t to defend Morrissey; we’ve heard ugly things from people we love before—we’ve said ugly, ignorant things before learning otherwise. We hope that he’ll learn better as well, and apologize and mean it, because here’s the thing: we can’t apologize for him. We can’t apologize for all the idiotic, borderline-misogynist stuff Peta does, no matter how much the public seems to expect us to, and we certainly can’t take responsibility for the personal views of one man, even if he is one of the most famous members of our little group. There’s no VeganList they post to so we can all approve of their plans beforehand.

Morrissey, we appreciate your work on behalf of animal rights. You were the inspiration to a lot of people who stopped eating animals, and your shitty racism must really hurt them, your hardcore fans. In the future, you absolutely must stop being such an asshole. If you’re going to remain a racist—which you should grow out of, lots of people your age learned differently, you know—keep it to yourself. Not everything you say is a brilliant pearl of “truth” or “wisdom.” Stick to advocating for the worldwide humane treatment of animals, exclusively, and the animal-rights community will support you.

If you persist in sullying our reputation with your nasty talk, however, we’re going to have to denounce you. The world judges us by our celebrities and spokespeople, and those people cannot hold baldly racist beliefs. Good luck making amends; we’ll be here when you’re ready to fight animal abuse without the pointless racism.

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