In the fight to keep activists honest, few things are more frustrating than out-and-out fabrications. And the intellectual liberties taken by animal rights devotees are particularly egregious. Witness the fictional animal “rights” quotation, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, which is literally chiseled into the reception lobby at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Today, as most Americans respectfully mark the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, it’s clear that some in the animal rights movement are eager to twist his legacy to suit their already twisted ideology.
In an interview for a 2007 documentary film, activist leader Pamelyn Ferdin (spouse of the murder-advocating Dr. Jerry Vlasak) insisted that Dr. King would sympathize with violent animal-rights radicalism if he were alive today:
“Dr King said ‘I am only effective as long as there is a shadow on white America of the black man standing behind me with a Molotov cocktail.’”
This is one of those things that made us go “Hmmm….” Did Martin Luther King, Jr. really say such a thing? It sounded more like the Black Panthers or Malcolm X.
Where’s the source for this quotation? Aside from other animal rights activists, absolutely none exists. University of Texas El Paso philosophy professor (and professional violence advocate) Dr. Steven Best, for instance, has no problem repeating this so-called “quotation.” But curiously, it’s not in the vernacular of King scholars. How do we know? We asked.
Dr. Clayborne Carson, Director of Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Educational Institute, wrote us “regarding the purported quote from Dr. King, and I’m unaware of any documentary evidence to support the attribution.”
So it’s a fake. But how did it get into circulation? Dr. Best footnotes a book called Green Rage.
Green Rage author Eric Manes footnotes a 1989 article from The Earth First! Journal. From there, the trail runs cold. The EF! Journal notes that the article in question “arrived mysteriously in the mail,” and it’s unsigned. Excellent scholarship, indeed.
As anyone who has read more than a page or two of Dr. King’s writings will tell you, the man was all about justice, love, and peaceful civil disobedience. And there’s no actual evidence he was an early bunny-hugger.
Nor is there any evidence he ever said this, despite the reckless claim of Animal Liberation Front “press officer” Lindy Greene:
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well being of a person or an animal is at stake.”
Just another fabrication. Here’s hoping most Americans can do right by Dr. King today, and every day. Unlike the animal “rights” movement.