This week’s revelation that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been the subject of an FBI investigation into the animal rights group’s possible ties to terrorism has stunned many liberals. PETA’s general counsel, Jeff Kerr, called the investigation “shocking and outrageous”, saying “it's an abuse of power by the F.B.I. when groups like Greenpeace and PETA are basically being punished for their social activism."
Two things here. First, how is PETA being punished? They’re being investigated. There’ve been no charges. There’ve been no indictments. They’re not being punished at all.
Secondly, and really the broader question: Should PETA be investigated for possible ties to terrorist groups like the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, two domestic terror groups responsible for a series of arsons, bombings, and other violent acts that have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage? Again, many liberals say no. At the popular lefty website www.dailykos.com, a front page story decried the investigation, saying “Everything that many of us consider moral (taking care of the environment, opposition to the war, freedom to speak our minds, to protest, etc.) is on the FBI's ‘there might be a terrorist connection list.” So what are the chances that the liberals are right? Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the FBI’s files on PETA. I do, however, have an internet connection. Five minutes on Google can get you some pretty interesting information.
Did you know, for example, that PETA gave $1500 to the Earth Liberation Front back in 2001? That would be the same Earth Liberation Front recently described as one of the nation’s top domestic terror threats. According to the Center for Consumer Freedom, this “gift” (acknowledged in PETA’s end of the year tax return) is the only public donation the Earth Liberation Front has received.
PETA’s tax returns show some other interesting payments as well. A $2,000 payment to a David Wilson, at the time a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front. A $5,000 payment to Joshua Harper, a self-described anarchist who faces terrorism charges for smoke bombing an insurance company with ties to a medical research firm.
Harper, incidentally, denies being a terrorist. He did tell the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, however, that he has a spark of hope “"a spark of hope in every broken window, every torched police car and every mink running free as their hearts desire." He also says his ultimate goal is the “complete collapse of industrial civilization”.
Harper’s not the only animal rights extremist with a gift for eloquence. How about this quote from… well, let me wait to tell you who actually said this.
“I think it would be a great thing if, you know, all of these fast-food outlets and these slaughterhouses and these laboratories and the banks that fund them exploded tomorrow. I think it's perfectly appropriate for people to take bricks and toss them through the windows, and you know everything else along the line. Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it.”
Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds an awful lot like an endorsement of violence.
But PETA’s non-violent, so that quote couldn’t have come from one of its leaders, right? Wrong. Those are the words of Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s Director of Vegan Outreach. But hey, this is just one guy. Surely this attitude isn’t common at PETA, right? Well, here’s another quote, this time from PETA’s head, Ingrid Newkirk.
“We are complete press sluts.”
Whoops. Wrong quote, although she did say that in the New Yorker magazine back in 2003. This is the quote I was looking for.
“I will be the last person to condemn ALF.”
She’s right. PETA doesn’t condemn the Animal Liberation Front. In fact, Newkirk has written a gushing biography of the terrorist group entitled “Free the Animals”. She’s provided financial support for the ALF publication No Compromise. PETA has, over the years, compared ALF to the French Resistance, called the terrorist group the “army of the kind”, and has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the defense funds of ALF members charged with crimes.
In fact, Newkirk herself ended up as a footnote in the trial of Rodney Coronado, an ALF member convicted of firebombing a laboratory at Michigan State University. Newkirk received two packages from Coronado, one the day before the bombing, the other shortly afterwards. The second package was actually intercepted by the FBI. Inside the package were documents stolen from the lab. U.S. Attorney Michael Dettmer said Newkirk had “arranged to have the package[s] delivered to her days before the MSU arson occurred.”
Again, you don’t need to have a top secret clearance to learn these things. You just need to do some digging on the internet. After learning these facts, I’m not “shocked and appalled” that the FBI is investigating a possible tie between PETA and eco-terrorists. I’d be shocked and appalled if the government wasn’t looking into PETA.
I’ve been fortunate enough to write a few columns on the animal rights extremists for Townhall.com, and after every one I always get a few emails from people criticizing me for writing about these organizations. They’d rather I highlight the positive stories of animal lovers, of which there are many. I’ll make these folks a deal. As soon as I start seeing some of these animal lovers renounce PETA, ALF, and others who condone violent terrorist actions, I’ll write a nice story about an animal lover. If not, I’ve got a great story in the pipeline about a number of animal rights extremists recently arrested in New Jersey, including one guy facing charges of “making a terrorist threat”. The peaceful, nonviolent activists strike again.