Scott Tibbs

Hoosier Review, December 10th, 2004

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Eco-terrorists on the march

Recent suspicious fires in Maryland have reminded us that the disturbing specter of terroism on the American mainland still lingers. September 11 was far from the first act of terrorism in the continental U.S. and it has not been the last, either. From the Associated Press:

INDIAN HEAD, Maryland (AP) -- More than a dozen expensive homes under construction were burned down early Monday in a suburban Washington housing development that had been criticized by environmentalists because it is next to a nature preserve, officials said.

An FBI agent said the fires may have been set by environmental extremists.

The article is on CNN and mirrored on CBS. The torched homes were priced between $400,000 and $500,000. CNN later corrected the story to say that the number of homes attacked was lower than originally reported.

A question to eco-terrorists: "Who do you think you are?" The homes destroyed by eco-terrorists had gone through the normal approval process, and the property owners were exercising their rights. Eco-terrorists have no business using violence to achieve their goals.

People in Monroe County, Indiana have seen this terrorism first hand, with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) burning down homes under construction near Lake Monroe to protest "urban sprawl". Sadly, this is just one example of terrorism, thuggery and general incivility that has plagued Monroe County politics. The ELF attempted to burn down the headquarters of the Monroe County Republican Party in 2000 to protest Interstate 69. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) bombed a poultry distribution company in 2002. Well-known developer Steve Smith saw his home burned down in a controversial development at Pedigo Bay.

It is reasonable to be concerned about "urban sprawl", and to use the political process to attempt to stop or slow development that is harmful to society. While property rights are very important, they are not absolute. If the use of one's property damages someone else's property (for example, runoff into a water table wells draw from) it is reasonable to advocate that property rights be limited.

What is not reasonable are terrorist actions that not only destroy someone's property, but place human life at risk. When firefighters are called to the scene of an arson set by eco-terrorists, their lives are at risk. The ELF/ALF axis of evil crows about the fact that they take steps to not harm humans or non-human animals in their terrorist actions. But when a eco-terrorists use bombings and arsons to advance a political agenda, they cannot predict the outcome. The lack of deaths from eco-terrorism is, quite simply, a result of blind luck.

As I have said before, we need to take domestic terrorism just as seriously as we take international terrorism. columnist Ben Hodges makes a good point that ecoterrorists do not garner as much attention as they should. If anti-abortion terrorists did as much damage as frequently as eco-terrorists, there would be much more coverage of their actions. Why is this not the case with eco-terrorists?

The Washington Times reports that terrorist actions by eco-extremists have actually increased in the last few years. While Homeland Security has done a good job of preventing terrorist attacks by Islamist fanatics, eco-terrorists continue to operate with few being caught. While the federalization of law enforcement brings problems, the federal government needs to do more to help state and local law enforcement agencies put a stop to eco-terrorism.

Eco-terrorism is a growing problem. It is a drag on the economy, it intimidates both the business community and private individuals, and (most importantly) it harms people and puts their lives at risk. We need to crack down on eco-terrorism before it gets worse. If we don't put a stop to it now it will get worse.