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July 19, 2007

The Monkey Wrenching of Nightmares

Glenn Reynolds observes that "Gaia's worshippers are angry," and that the "National Intelligence Estimate warns of enviro-terrorist attacks."

The first linked-story, about the hate-crime against a Hummer owner, reminds me of something I heard on Car Talk several years ago, and posted on an old blog of mine:

Posted 3/11/2003 08:57:09 PM by Robert Racansky
I was listening to Car Talk this weekend (program # 310). About 35 minutes into the show, Melissa from Eugene, Oregon called and asked if her Isuzu Amigo could be considered an S.U.V. She was concerned because:

Eugene...is a really rather liberal town. And we were at a peace rally recently, and somebody held up a sign that said "S.U.V. drivers should be drafted first." Which sent me into an absolute panic, because about two years ago somebody else blew up a bunch of S.U.V.s at one of our local car dealerships.

Perhaps this will prompt NBC to produce another spinoff series, Law & Order: SUV starring Fred Thompson.

If you are interested in how to commit acts of vandalism to save the Earth, pick up a copy of Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkey Wrenching at Amazon.

[UPDATE: The FBI press release does not mention eco-terorrism, nor does the DNI's 7-page report (PDF file). Both do devote a paragraph to "non-Muslim" "single-issue" groups, but the CNS story cited by Professor Reynolds makes a mountain out of a less than a molehill. I recall that "Terrorism in the United States," published between 1996 - 1999, did mention the threat of environmental activists, but I don't have time to go through them right now. FBI publications here.]

If I recall the mid-1980s correctly, anti-abortion terrorism started out with a few acts of arson and bombings against clinics at night, which resulted in few, if any, injuries; much like the state eco-terorrism is in right now (Unabomber excepted, of course).

The murder of 7 abortion workers over the course of 5 years (1993 - 1998) prompted the ACLU, "the nation's principal defender of the Constitution," to not take action when the National Organization of Women and Planned Parenthood threatened the First Amendment, because the terrorist threat was so grave that it was essential to give up a little liberty.

I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.

-Nadine Strossen
President of the ACLU (October 1994, in a different context)

The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 was seized upon by the president of the United States, and his allies in the media, to equate his political enemies with terrorists in order to shame them into silence.

I would like to say something to [those of you] who believe the greatest threat to America comes not from terrorists from ... beyond our borders, but from our own government.

I believe you have every right, indeed you have the responsibility, to question our government when you disagree with its policies. And I will do everything in my power to protect your right to do so.

But I also know there have been lawbreakers among those who espouse your philosophy....

...The people who came to the United States to bomb the World Trade Center were wrong....

...How dare you suggest that we in the freest nation on Earth live in tyranny....

...[T]here is nothing patriotic about hating your country, or pretending that you can love your country but despise your government.

-The President of the United States
Michigan State University (May 5, 1995)

So if somebody believes someone who is working for the government has mistreated them, take it to the appropriate authority, make it public if you want to, but be specific. But do not condemn people who work for the government. That's the kind of mentality that produced Oklahoma City.

-The President of the United States
Billings, Montana (June 1, 1995)

We recognized, once again, that we can't love our country and hate our government.

-The President of the United States
Weekly Radio Address (December 30, 1995)

The mid-to-late 1990s saw no shortage of activists, politicians, and pundits warning us about the threats of anti-abortion terrorists and right-wing militias.

Finally, a few years later, after the death of 3,000 people and the destruction of several blocks of New York, cooler heads prevailed.

"There is no terrorist threat," we have been assured. The fear of terrorism * is only something exaggerated by politicians to manipulate the public.

* video here

Posted by Robert Racansky on July 19, 2007 at 12:34 PM


Robert, I am in the middle of viewing your videos. It is an amazing series. The question now is where is the real truth, for his references to "neo-conservatives" smack of propaganda in itself. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: sl on July 22, 2007 at 7:27 PM

I do tend to agree that, in terms of threats to our existence, terrorism is fairly low on the radar screen. The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, it's just doesn't play as well on TV. Explosions and burning SUV's draw in more eyes on the evening news.

Furthermore, I tend to subscribe to the theory of expending public sector funds by body count. That is, spend the dollars to mitigate the greatest risk. For instance, instead of spending funds to equip all commercial airlines with anti-missle technology, I favor turning around the seats on airplanes, changing the airplane doors so that they all open the same way, and train people to open the doors while they're waiting to board the plane.

Not to say that terrorists won't shoot down a plane one day with a missle, but our experience indicates the greatest return on our funds, historically speaking, would be to make the planes safer intstead of trying to turn them into fighter jets.

However, until we come up with a balanced budget amendment, and hold the government to FASB standards, we're just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

As far as eco-terrorism in the United States goes, let's not forget to mention when the tree-huggers burned down a 12 million dollar ski resort at Vail.

Posted by: Rob Kiser on July 22, 2007 at 10:54 PM

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