Call me fooled. Judging from his previous writings, I thought Matt Labash had better sense than to be taken in by the animal rightists and their hyper-pious sheep’s clothing ((link-to) For the Love of PETA).

Labash couldn’t be more mistaken in asserting that “the animal-rights movement has been taken over by eco-weenies.” The last 15 years of animal-rights “progress” in the United States has been a story about the most violent eco-extremists imaginable assuming positions of power. In this country alone, the violent Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and its cousin the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) have caused over $60 million of damage during nearly a thousand criminal acts. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has played (and continues to play) a frightening and honorless role in the carnage.

A PETA “fact sheet” gathering dust in my filing cabinet declares ALF to be an “army of the kind.” That’s quite an honorific for a group that the FBI classifies as “a major domestic terrorist threat.” PETA has a history of fronting for these thugs, magically producing videotapes of violent crimes only hours after they were committed. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk herself was personally implicated in a 1995 arson, accused, in sworn testimony, by a former employee, of conspiring with an arsonist who later served hard time for his crime.

PETA also puts its money where its mouth is: At last count, the group has spent over $100,000 in tax-exempt money trying to help activists beat arson and attempted murder raps.

And barely a year ago, PETA actually made a sizable cash donation to the ELF. It’s right there on their tax return! PETA names the grantee as the “North American Earth Liberation Front” and describes the grant’s purpose in the following words: “To support their program activities.” By ELF’s own published accounting, these “program activities” cost business owners and taxpayers over $13 million in 2001 alone.

Last summer Bruce Friedrich, a PETA campaign director who is the group’s third-in-command, told a rapt crowd of animal-rights conventioneers that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring animal liberation.” Friedrich continued: “I think it would be great if all of the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories, and banks that fund them exploded tomorrow.” To a standing ovation, he added: “Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”