Friday, January 20, 2006

The ecoterrorist under the bed

"Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions...have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory." Max Weber Politics as a Vocation 1918

"The trail of destruction left by these defendants across the western United States caused millions of dollars in damage to public and private facilities," he said. "Today's indictment proves that we will not tolerate any group that terrorizes the American people, no matter its intentions or objectives." Attorney General Alberto Gonzales 1/20/2006

"Terrorism is terrorism, no matter what the motive," FBI Director Robert Mueller 1/20/2006
The spectacle of the Bush administration calling anyone a terrorist is laughable, given the appalling trail of blood, murder and torture, it leaves behind wherever it goes. This irony is especially manifest when the groups being charged with terrorism have not actually harmed, let alone killed a single person. Nor did they intend to.

The old names for the crimes that they are being charged with are arson and vandalism, but the old labels will no longer do because this is a convenient way to demonize all environmental activism and because by controlling the description of the crime they can to an extent control the emotional response of the public. And the press plays along as the dictionary is rewritten yet again. The headlines are ominous: US Indicts 11 for Domestic Terrorism (NYT), 11 Indicted in Ecoterrorism Attacks (LA Times), 11 Indicted in Ecoterrorism Plot (Washington Post).

All this, for what mainly amounts to relatively minor property destruction at isolated facilities: some U.S. Forest Service ranger stations, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wild horse facilities, lumber companies, meat processing companies, a ski area and a power line.

It's curious in contrast how rarely real terrorists, the people who bombed abortion clinics and murdered doctors, and the movement that supported them, were ever labeled terrorists.

To use vocabulary more precisely, the real ecoterrorists are the Bush Administration and to a lesser extent the rest of the industrialized world, for refusing to face up to their responsibility for making the planet inhospitable to human survival and failing to do something about it while there still might be time. This will kill millions and destroy the quality of life of millions more. It has already caused the extermination of countless other species.

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