When the human race confronts its most harrowing experiences, one can reliably count on People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA) to think of the chickens. As the images of Iraq’s torture chambers remind us of humans’ capacity to brutalize
their own kind, PETA loudly frets that pigeons and chickens used by U.S. troops to detect chemical weapons “never enlisted.”
PETA also complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that dolphins locating mines in the Persian Gulf “have not volunteered”
That’s PETA. Save the dolphins; forget the humans.
PETA has placed animal life above human tragedy before. Earlier this year, it unveiled a roving exhibit,
“The Holocaust on Your Plate,” that juxtaposes images of chickens with a photo of Nobel Peace Prize winner
Elie Wiesel as a young man at the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Declaring a roaster chicken’s life to be as valuable as a person’s should be unthinkable. But PETA’s
vulgar attempts to get attention are tame compared to those of animal extremists who are torching medical
research labs, severing delivery truck brake lines and planting incendiary devices at fast-food
restaurants just to get attention.
So serious have such crimes become that the FBI has issued an alert to law enforcement agencies to
remain on the lookout for possible criminal activity by “animal rights extremists” during the
World Week for Animals in Laboratories protest scheduled to begin Saturday.
Vinegar, not honey
The animal rights movement has gone from cute and cuddly — think baby seals — to callous and cutthroat.
“Our non-violent tactics are not as effective,” PETA’s co-founder and president, Ingrid Newkirk, has said.
“We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works.” She did not respond to
a request for further comment.
Another group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), is running an intimidation campaign against those
who do business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, a research lab that uses animal tests to help find new
drugs for AIDS, cancer and other diseases.
“You don’t need a four-year degree to call in a bomb hoax,” SHAC leader Kevin Kjonaas says on a tape.
At another event, he explains: “We’re not your parents’ Humane Society. … We come with a new philosophy.
We hold the radical line. We will not compromise! We will not apologize, and we will not relent!”
PETA ran the campaign against Huntingdon until a court order stopped it. PETA also funded the legal
defense of a convicted arsonist and has served as the media representative for the
Animal Liberation Front (ALF), a terrorist group. Think that’s a misuse of the “T” word? The FBI doesn’t.
It calls ALF, along with its sister organization, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), “a serious terrorist threat”
within the United States.
Detailing the terrorism
It is outrageous that the FBI must devote resources to the crimes of homegrown animal-rights zealots at the
same time it faces overseas terrorist threats. Yet a few days into the Iraq war, ALF released a report of
domestic terrorism committed by ALF and ELF in 2002, claiming “100 illegal direct actions” against businesses,
government agencies and universities.
Militants have taken over the animal rights movement. But some mainstream institutions act as if they
were still talking about shelters for stray dogs and cats. In February, California State University,
Fresno invited ALF and ELF leaders to participate in a conference on “revolutionary environmentalism.”
State taxpayers can savor the irony of paying both for Fresno to host terrorists and for the FBI to track them down.
Some of these activists have declared themselves heir to Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of protest.
King engaged in civil disobedience, but he didn’t use fire to make a point. Nor is there anything civil
about those who value chickens over the lives of our troops.
— Richard Berman is executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit coalition supported
by restaurant operators and food and beverage companies.