As Activists Are Seen As The New “Terrorists”, Can Activism Survive?
Lets get in the way back machine and visit 1981, the era of preppies and parachute pants. It’s at this time, the height of the Cold War that a former Governor of California, an actor named Ronald Reagan, became president ushering in the beginning of an era of politics and international relations which has carried on into the present. When the Reagan administration came into power over 30 years ago it declared that the war against international terrorism would be the core of U.S. foreign policy. Reagan was intending to replace the failing communists with terrorists as a uniting enemy, though no one could have seen what it could become.
Now we can fast forward past wars in Nicaragua, and Panama, the DEA Para-military tactics in the War On Drugs, and September 11th and the PATRIOT ACT to get to 2005.
In 2005, things get worse yet when John Lewis, an FBI deputy assistant director and top official in charge of domestic terrorism, said:
The resulting disproportionate, oppressive government attack on the animal rights and environmental movements, and the reckless use of the word “terrorism,” is often called the Green Scare.
So if you hate fracking, love bunnies and nature, or even operate a website that says you dislike environmental destruction, you may be a potential terrorist, and a target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI can even tap your cell phone with no warrant.
Here at FutureFarming.Org we of course do not condone terror tactics; maybe some people can rationalize violence against people, but we cannot. Property destruction and releasing animals is also not a practice that we undertake, but these are really matter for a local police force, not the FBI. The bigger picture here is that a very small percentage of activists in environmental and animal rights groups are actually trying to cause any damage, destruction, or death; in fact, most want to prevent deaths of animals. So whether you think these are misguided people, or wish you could do it yourself, everyone can agree that FBI SWAT teams and a “Big Brother” surveillance state are not needed. Often when eco-terrorists, or really most terrorists, are caught, it is not the Department of Justice’s work that gets them; it’s concerned citizens. And then all of us activists have to pay for a few people’s crimes. It is against our Bill of Rights that says we are to be secure and have no unlawful searches and seizures, it’s against our right to peaceably assemble, and it’s against our rights to freedom of speech.
By passing laws like The Animal Enterprise Protection Act the federal Government has made it illegal to have any form of civil disobedience against say animal testing labs such as Huntingdon Labs. The damage done by eco-terrorists was already illegal so really no new bill was needed. When the law passed, environmental and civil rights groups cautioned that its vague language could open the floodgates to prosecution of non-violent activists. They noted that causing “the loss of any property”, which is the vague wording of the bill, is the objective of any boycott or sustained activist campaign against industry: if activist campaigns didn’t hurt profits, corporations would never pay attention. Provisions for restitution of lost revenues are a specific part of the law, and such previsions defeat the entire purpose of activists’ actions. Bus boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s probably caused a loss of property for those businesses, which is precisely why they were key tactics in the civil rights movement.
Peace activists, environmental activists, and even labor activists have become the major target of these “terrorism” investigations. The objective of animal industry groups, corporations, and the politicians that represent them is not to merely prevent vandalism and theft: it is to neutralize a threat to their profits and their power, to silence dissent. The very thing that the FBI and the federal Government are professing to prevent is the very thing they are using, terrorism. Raids on houses using military tactics against people who are trying to follow in the American tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., and Howard Zinn are ridiculous surely, but even more so they are anti-American witch hunts akin to McCarthy era demagoguery and its time they stop. Activism is American, and the best way to tell our officials what we want. So call or write your Congressional representative, Senators, and the FBI and tell them no more spying, lying and demagoguery*!
* dem·a·gogue n
1.a political leader who gains power by appealing to people’s emotions and prejudices rather than their rationality
2.in ancient times, a popular leader who represented the ordinary people
1. to act like a demagogue in gaining power by appealing to people’s emotions and prejudices
2. to elicit people’s emotional and prejudicial biases on an issue