January 25, 2007


When Does Green Rage Become Ecoterrorism? (Matt Rasmussen, January 25, 2007, Orion Magazine)

The crimes to which the six confessed included seventeen attacks, all but one of them arson or attempted arson. The actions took place in five western states between 1996 and 2001. No one was injured. Sport utility vehicles were burned at a Eugene car dealership. So was a meat-packing plant in Redmond, Oregon. Other targets included federal facilities in Wyoming and California and Oregon, where wild horses and burros were let loose and buildings burned down. And in the most notorious action, a spectacular nighttime blaze high in the Rockies destroyed several structures at the Vail ski area. Many of the attacks were followed by communiqu├ęs issued under the banner of the Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy, leaderless offshoot of the group Earth First!, and by its sister group, the Animal Liberation Front.

Prosecutors say those who did the crimes took extraordinary means to conceal their involvement. They met in secret gatherings they called "book club" meetings, discussing details such as computer security, target surveillance, and lock-picking. They required that each attendee describe actions they took to avoid detection while traveling to the meeting sites. They used nicknames and code words. They called their criminal actions "camping trips," and dubbed the timing devices they attached to incendiary bombs "hamburgers."

"Terrorism is terrorism -- no matter the motive," FBI director Robert Mueller said in January 2006, after the Bush administration announced indictments in an investigation it calls Operation Backfire. "The FBI is committed to protecting Americans from all crime and all terrorism, including acts of domestic terrorism on behalf of animal rights or the environment."

Many were appalled. How could anyone possibly use that singularly loaded word to describe these acts?

The problem lies in thinking of it as a loaded word to begin with.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 25, 2007 7:40 AM

The Marxist prespective: "context" qualifies the act. The a Marxist, motive and class interest are what maters, rather than the nature and quality of the act itself. The Nazis did the same thing with race interests.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 25, 2007 12:24 PM