Kathleen Parker
Just when you thought the white male could stoop no lower, PETA tells us that white men don't care about animal cruelty. No, this isn't a joke, though I thought it was when a postcard from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) making such a claim crossed my desk a few days ago. Here's how the PETA assault on white males begins: "If the idea of animals' being castrated without anesthetics on factory farms isn't at all unsettling to you, chances are you're a man and you're white." The purpose of the card ostensibly is to tout a PETA-sponsored Zogby International poll that examined the eating habits of Americans, all geared at guessing how much longer we have to endure America's meat-eating ways before we advance to national vegetarianism. My guess is that would be about the same time Saddam Hussein and George Bush butterfly kiss, but PETA is optimistic. If only we could get rid of those white males. Curious to take a look at the hard data, I called the PETA number listed on the postcard. The fellow who answered the phone sounded like he'd just completed about four centuries of yoga and was about to evolve into a higher life form. By his voice he also sounded like One of Them. "You sound like you might be a white male," I said. "Yes, unfortunately I am," he sighed. I could sense his blood sugar plummeting. "Oh, come on," I said, cheerfully. "White guys have done some good stuff." "Well, yeah," he wearily conceded. "A couple of things." I figured he was thinking about the Magna Carta and the Emancipation Proclamation. Or possibly the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence? But I didn't press. He seemed in a hurry to get off the phone, a tendency I've noted among white males. Could he be sneaking jerky on the side, I wondered? Following the link he provided, I found that the poll, conducted last May, confirms that white males are less likely than Hispanics and African-Americans, the other groups surveyed, to stop eating meat even knowing some of the details of factory farming. Pigs are castrated without anesthesia for instance, according to the survey. Also, white males were less likely than the others to endorse excise taxes on meat to help pay health-care costs associated with diseases that PETA claims are related to eating meat -heart attacks, cancer, high blood pressure and strokes. There could be dozens of explanations for these attitudes, including the possibility that some people aren't going to quit eating meat for any reason. Nor are they going to endorse more taxes for spurious claims. Could some of the white males have known that the health problems listed may be caused by a variety of other factors (obesity, heredity, environmental exposures) and not necessarily by meat-eating? PETA's extrapolation that white men don't care about painful animal castration based on their unwillingness to give up pork chops, however, requires a leap of white-male hatred that borders on personality disorder. Here's PETA's spin on the white man's carnivorous ways: "Could it be because white men are raised on `sports' such as fishing and rodeo? Or taught to `appreciate' the outdoors with a rifle in their hands? Do they feel like they're betraying Dad if they don't give their sons hot dogs at ballgames or that they won't grow `hair on their chests' without a slab of meat on their dinner plate? "On the other hand, could it be that people who themselves sometimes feel disenfranchised and oppressed might, for that very reason, be sympathetic to the plight of animals?" Could it be that meat deprivation makes one a little hostile? Deranged? I confess to being an evangelical animal lover who can take or leave most meat. But. PETA's self-righteous zealotry disguised as virtue makes me want to wear fur coats and gnaw on puppy bones while driving an SUV filled with right-wing Boy Scouts. The culturally approved assault on white males, meanwhile, has become tedious, boring and probably ineffective. If the idea of white males being figuratively castrated by high-strung fanatics isn't at all unsettling to you, chances are you need to eat more red meat.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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