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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sierra Club and Ecoterrorism? Yeah, Right

Federal investigators say they will look at "ecoterrorism" as a motive in the fires that burned 41 homes Monday in a new subdivision that environmental and community groups had opposed.

This story is odd on two accounts, at least.

First, every media account I've seen on this follows the FBI's purposefully vague allegations of arson with background on the Sierra Club's opposition to the development. While not explicitly connecting the dots between the fires and the Sierra Club, the juxtaposition certainly leaves the reader with the perception that somehow the Sierra Club is implicated in the fires.

I am a member of the Sierra Club and my wife and I are very active in the group. The idea of the Sierra Club endorsing anything remotely close to this is absurd, as the group is cautious to a fault, in my opinion. The Sierra Club is the kind, gentle grandparent of environmental groups, not the rebellious, nipple-pierced grandkid. That would be Greenpeace or Earth First!.

Second, the use of the word ecoterrorism is another stretch of the word "terrorism", which Our Leader has made applicable to any crimes committed by people not "with him".

Terrorism is the use of violence of the threat of violent acts as a way to achieve political action. If the FBI is right and these fires were set by people opposed to the project, then that would be retaliation, because the political part of the process is over. The subdivision had been approved, and what happens next is that insurance companies fork over the dough for the builders to redo their work.

Unless some group comes forward with some demands of the politicians involved, then I do not see how this can be labeled terrorism. Would you call outsourcing tens of thousands of American jobs "economic terrorism"? Bush would not. Would you call the detaining of anti-Bush protestors "free speech terrorism"?

The word is used as a political weapon. It's called propaganda, and in this case it is being used to undermine environmental activism which, in 99.99 percent of the cases, is done through legal, nonviolent, grassroots means.


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