PETA SHOWS ITS STRIPES WITH LETTER TO ARAFAT.
FOR decades I have looked on as animal-rights activists crusaded against veal, against rigid confinement for poultry and against medical research conducted on myriad living things that don't happen to be human.
I have watched them splatter paint on mink-wearing matrons.
And I have seen these passionate souls chain themselves to department store entryways in hopes of saving sables and seals and chinchillas everywhere.
But today it is too much. Today, in wartime, the whale-lovers and chimp-saviors have crossed over into the territory of blatant bad taste.
It started with a letter from Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority chairman (always photographed in olive drab sans even fur collar).
Simply put, Newkirk's note called attention to a Jerusalem terror bombing last month in which explosives were concealed on a donkey. Some Palestinian thug hit a detonator, charges went off and the donkey was blown to pieces. There were no human casualties.
``We have received many calls and letters from people shocked at the bombing,'' PETA's leader wrote Arafat. ``If you have the opportunity, will you please add to your burdens my request that you appeal to all those who listen to you to leave the animals out of the conflict?''
Obviously, for the price of the same stamp, Newkirk could also have asked Arafat to use his influence to leave humans ``out of the conflict.'' But, no, the subject was donkeys - and even PLO cats left in Arafat's compound to dodge Israeli bulldozers.
All this to save four-legged noncombatants when so-called Palestinian martyrs - teenagers and young adults who pack their bodies with dynamite - are the real animals of the Middle East.
Truly, Newkirk's letter throws mud on the graves of so many innocent Israeli parents and children whose lives were taken by bloodthirsty fanatics. Further, PETA's moralizer-in-chief pelted decency in the face when asked to persuade Arafat to help stop the bombing of civilians.
``It's not my business,'' Newkirk was quoted as saying, ``to inject myself into human wars.''
So that's it. Her brief on behalf of suffering and death stops with donkeys. Or cats. Maybe camels slain by stray shrapnel. No satirist - not Mort Sahl or Bill Maher or Richard Pryor - could come close to such callous conceit. It is tantamount to a contractors association bemoaning the wreckage of buildings and ignoring the bodies inside.
There is, however, more. Call it adding insult to injury or horrible judgment. When it comes to war, some in our animal-rights crowd just can't stop themselves. They see unjustified threats to creatures protecting U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf. They see the Pentagon placing sea lions in potentially fatal jeopardy.
The animals in question are trained to protect warships from enemy divers, frogmen who would place explosives on hulls. The sea lions swim silently and swiftly. They restrain enemies and deploy warning markers. We are lucky to have them.
A PETA official would like them cashiered from the service.
``What we have a problem with is anyone intentionally putting these animals in harm's way and knowing they could suffer and possibly die in the process,'' said Stephanie Boyles, a PETA wildlife biologist.
In truth, what Boyles may have a problem with is the price of saving American servicemen from burning to death. Or being maimed. Or watching helplessly as shipmates are blown overboard.
Regrettably, this isn't a story about humane methods of catching tuna. Or whether calves should be free to roam green pastures. I wish it were. It is a story about what happens when otherwise intelligent, compassionate people make terrible decisions about what really matters in an uncertain and dangerous world.
The case for chinchillas is a lot easier to make.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 20, 2003|
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