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Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 2001 / 15 Kislev, 5762

Robert L. Haught

Robert L. Haught
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Animal rights group would like to tan Osama's hide -- IF Osama bin Laden hasn't met his end by now, he must be shaking in his boots. No matter how remote his location, surely he must have heard the news of his impending doom.

Not only are the U.S. Marines closing in on the hated terrorist leader, but now PETA is after him.

That's right. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a major campaign against bin Laden for the most unspeakable acts. His crime? Producing and selling leather.

On its Web site, PETA cited recent news reports that bin Laden had considerable interests in the Middle Eastern honey business. As if his mistreatment of bees weren't bad enough, he now stands accused of bovine abuse.

PETA says it has "uncovered documents showing that bin Laden owns a tannery in Sudan that exports leather to Italy and possibly other countries, which in turn export leather products to the U.S. and elsewhere." Did the CIA know about this?

The leather company in Khartoum was operated "to provide income to and support al-Qaida and to provide cover for the procurement of explosives, weapons, chemicals and for the travel of al-Qaida operatives."

These forces also have tested nerve gas on dogs in their terrorist training camps, PETA says, but the worst evil is slaughtering cows and tanning their hides.

While its campaign is aimed at bin Laden, PETA says he's not the only guilty party. American consumers may unknowingly help fund his terrorist crimes when they purchase leather products.

It is an odd war, indeed, when a liberal animal rights organization aligns itself with a Republican president in targeting an international criminal. But don't look for President Bush to call for a nationwide leather boycott. That jacket he wears when he's at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, looks like the real thing.

And that soy-based "Tofurky" the PETA folks sent to the White House for Thanksgiving somehow didn't find its way to the Bush dinner table.

The Hollywood Left would like to find a way to give its support to the war effort, in some way besides making patriotic films. But this doesn't appear to be the kind of cause the stars could embrace wholeheartedly. They would have to quit wearing their leather pants and tops -- not to mention their furs.

Although it's not part of an anti- terrorist coalition, the PETA offensive might have a fighting chance, based on past victories. The group's campaign to get college students to drink beer instead of milk was front-loaded for success. The scantily clad "Lettuce Ladies" who make a summer trip to Capitol Hill to promote non-meat hot dogs always turn out an observant crowd. By the way, they're joining Playboy Playmate Kimberly Hefner in sending cheerful greetings, pinup pictures and packets of "vegan jerky" to the 5,000 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. How patriotic can you get!

PETA does have one strong ally in Congress. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., spoke with the eloquence that only he could muster in speaking up for the seven polar bears said to have been mistreated by a Mexican circus. But he also took up the Senate's time to get personal. "I guess my little dog Billy has had a great deal to do with my attitude toward animals," Byrd said. "Billy Byrd is 15 years old. But if there is a creature on this Earth that is absolutely and forever unfailingly loyal and dedicated to me ... it is my little dog Billy, that Maltese terrier."

If bin Laden had only had such a pet, the course of history might have been different.

JWR contributor Robert L. Haught is a columnist for The Oklohoman. Comment by clicking here.


11/20/01: Are Americans too spaced out?
10/12/01: There's something fishy going on in the U.S. Congress
10/05/01: Lincoln had some memorable things to say about war
09/21/01: Washington's guidelines on how to tickle a terrorist
08/31/01: Two Garys, going the same road
08/24/01: Dog days are laughing matter, stories set tails wagging

© 2001, Robert L. Haught