.......Some more perspective on eco-terrorism:
March 17, 2004
By Pete Spina
On June 1, 2001, fires were set at the Schoppert Logging Company in Eagle Creek, Oregon. Schoppert was due to begin logging on US Forest Service land.
One whole logging truck, valued $50,000 was destroyed and two others damaged. This was terrorism, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force said.
Indictments came down with charges of 1) damaging vehicles and other property used in interstate commerce, 2) obstructing the movement of commodities
in interstate commerce, 3) using violence to interfere in commerce and 4) using an incendiary device to commit an act of violence. If convicted,
defendants could receive up to $1 million in fines or up to 80 years in prison, more than twelve times the average sentence for rape, a class one
Recently, environmental activist and tree-sitter Tre Arrow, wanted by the FBI, was taken into custody by Canadian authorities in British Colombia for
shoplifting a pair of bolt-cutters. He is accused by authorities of the Schoppert Logging fire and of being a member of the Earth Liberation Front,
America's "Number 1" domestic terrorist organization.
With each new horrific assault on human life that occurs in this world, we are inundated with streams of hollow rhetoric used to rationalize, not to
justify, whatever stance the government takes. Terrorism no longer has anything to do with fear, freedom does not have any relation to rights, and
violence has nothing to do with harm to living things. Particularly since 9/11, governments and corporations have demanded that we accept as truth
things that are either outright contradictions or examples of what is known as false concreteness, the assumption that irrelevant association leads to
substantive conclusions with far reaching implications. Some of the contradictions we are told to swallow are eternal, like the idea that waging war
brings peace or that security only comes at the expense of liberty. Others, like the idea that invading Iraq would make us safer or that conspicuous
consumption is effective counter-terrorism, serve the interests of the powerful.
Welcome then, to the propaganda of what the Zapatista rebels of Chiapas, Mexico dubbed the Fourth World War, the struggle between the culture of life
and the culture of death, of neoliberalism against humanity, of power against truth.
Doublethink this: Property Is Life.
A farmer's rights activist from India mounted a podium to deliver a speech at a conference several years ago and found a bottle of Nestlé iced tea
waiting for him. Enraged by the presence of a Nestlé product at his podium, he hurled the bottle against a nearby wall, bursting its contents all over
the place and shouted, "This is not violence!"
Then he told a story about nonviolence. When Mahatma Gandhi was asked once if blowing up a train used for the British occupation of India was violent,
he replied that if it was a passenger train then it would be violent to blow it up. If it was a train carrying weapons and ammunition though, Gandhi
said that it should not be considered violent.
Ironically, the police, multi-national corporations, federal agents and logging companies, like the one whose logger murdered tree-sitter David
"Gypsy" Chain by intentionally felling a tree on him, are never held to the same level of scrutiny on the subject of violence which they, through
the media, are relentless about with activists themselves. From the start of ELF activities in 1998, federal authorities and the timber and fur
industries described them as violent extremists, comparing the smallest act of vandalism to mass murder. In the process, the ELF's critics may have
aided in the group's allure and folk hero mythology.
"The FBI can't stop them, and their appetite for destruction is growing. Meet ELF, our biggest domestic terror threat." While über-glossies like
Maxim usually don't delve much deeper than surfing chimpanzees or softcore hetero porn, March's issue contains an article detailing the exploits of
the Earth Liberation Front, the decentralized group of militant environmental direct actionists who, together with their sister organization the
Animal Liberation Front, have caused a total of $82,752,700 in property damage to SUV dealerships, ski resorts and other targets since 1996. Teresa
Platt, executive director of fur industry lobby group Fur Commission USA, tells Maxim, "They've hit the common man - An SUV is the common man.
They're hitting soccer moms."
Ah, the common man, wrapped in mink pelts and driving a $40,000, 12 mpg H2 Hummer. Interestingly, Fur Commission USA's website
(www.furcommission.com) goes so far as to declare farmed fur "an environmentally friendly resource" which reduces the "environmental impact of the
agricultural sector" by feeding leftover human food to the mink. So how are the coats made? Do the mink go willingly after their sauna? The website
didn't say. So beyond the obviously skewed perception of common folk which fur industry executives seem to display lies the disturbing realization
that Teresa Platt is either unable or unwilling to make a distinction between living things and inanimate possessions. To her and millions like her,
just as mink is a commodity, SUV's are the common man and soccer moms are their Lincoln Navigators. The assumption here is that property is as
important as human (or any animal) life.
One of the ELF's explicit action guidelines is to avoid, by all necessary precautions, hurting any animal, human and nonhuman. Regardless, critics
and federal agents insist that it is only a matter of time before somebody gets hurt or killed. Not surprisingly, the ELF and ALF top the FBI’s
domestic terrorist list. This is, of course, misleading.
Doublethink this: Teachers Are Terrorists.
Recently, Education Secretary Rod Paige called the largest teachers' union, the NEA, "a terrorist organization" because of its criticism of
President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. A report issued by the Miami Police Department in the wake of its repressive actions during the Free Trade
Area of the Americas' summit likened nonviolent civil disobedience activists to terrorists as well. Terrorist has long been a catch all-phrase
applied to political opponents and nowhere today, even among most activists, does the real question of violence, central to the definition of
terrorism, ever come up. That real, Gandhian question of violence is this: if a thing cannot feel pain, then is destroying it violence?
Violence once carried with it an immoral disregard for the sanctity of sentient life or physical well being. Instead of defining terrorism as any act
which terrorizes people through threats or instances of physical injury, terrorism is redefined as any significant opposition to whomever wields
power. If terrorism were really a question of violence then the Pentagon, Coca-Cola and the NYPD would top the list of terror threats. Once physical
injury to a living thing is removed from its definition, violence and terrorism become meaningless, irrelevant words to be exploited only when needed
to either rationalize the use of force or marginalize those who oppose you.
Curiously, a footnote to Maxim's ELF exposé is a small box devoted to "America's Homegrown Terrorists," with brief overviews of the Army of God,
best known for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics’ bombing and numerous Planned Parenthood bombings; the World Church of the Creator, whose members have gone
on racist shooting sprees and plotted to assassinate federal judges; the National Alliance, whose members murdered a Jewish talk-show host, and Aryan
Nations, connected to attempts to manufacture biological and chemical agents and send them through the mail to lawyer's with "Jewish-sounding
The ELF continues to receive top billing as far as domestic terrorist threats go.
Still no arrests in the anthrax case, J. Edgar? No wonder.
According to the Earth Liberation Front’s press office, 75 illegal direct actions occurred in 2003. Of that number, the Animal Liberation Front
accounted for 18 actions and the Earth Liberation Front for 13, or roughly 41 percent of the total. The remainder were either anonymous or claimed by
what are now referred to as the Revolutionary Cells - the Animal Liberation Brigade, Direct Action Front, the Frogs, the Vegan Dumpster Militia and
others. (Source: published in Satya magazine.) The combined total of damage caused was nearly $60 million, $55 million of it attributed to the Earth
Liberation Front. No one was injured. Among the ELF actions were a series of fires at Hummer dealerships in southern California. The FBI arrested two
individuals in relation to the fires and released both within a matter of days for lack of evidence.
Doublethink this: Freedom Is Consumption.
Maxim's story might send shivers up the spines of budding car dealers from West Covina to East Millstone, but if you hadn't noticed, nearly 5,000
people disappeared into a cloud of ash and debris over the skies of Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001. According to iraqbodycount.org, civilian
deaths in the current Iraq war have now surpassed 10,000. Around the globe, people are being killed by war, in poverty, through starvation or with
easily treatable diseases. In the 1990's, Shell Oil paid Nigerian soldiers to massacre 2,000 indigenous Ogoni and seize their oil-rich lands. Today,
Coca-Cola hires death squads in Colombia to torture and kill Sinaltrainal -- National Union of Food Industry -- organizers.
This is terrorism and it is murder, plain and simple. This is their culture of death. As Joseph Heller put it in Catch-22, the enemy is anybody who's
going to get you killed, no matter which side they're on. That's all it comes down to. With staggeringly low-gas mileage and double the pollution
output per tank of gas than smaller cars, SUV's increase this country's dependence on oil while choking our environment. Haven't had enough war or
terrorism? Drive an SUV. It will become like an old pet, a member of the family, beloved. Or perhaps people should stop condemning the ELF and others.
Maybe, we should all focus on the real terrorists.