Eco-Terrorism (Earth Liberation Front)

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Tue Jan 16 13:07:26 UTC 2001

Fred Shapiro wrote:

> Here's a 1987 cite for "ecoterrorism" and "ecoterrorist":
> 1987 _Star Tribune_ (Minneapolis-St. Paul) 20 Aug. (Dow Jones)  A wave of
> "ecoterrorism" by militant environmentalists in the Pacific Northwest has
> the timber industry preparing itself for a modern equivalent of the
> 19th-century range wars between farmers and cattlemen. ... Last month Sen.
> James McClure, R-Idaho, called for harsh penalties for "ecoterrorists" and
> introduced a bill outlawing the spiking of trees.

The word "ecoterrorism" gained currency as part of a disinformation
campaign based on false accusations. It's a pity that the word
"ecoterrorism" has settled into dictionaries without background
information about the purposes behind its original use. Lack of that
background points to the ultimate success of an orchestrated attempt to
neutralize activists on one side of a public debate. It's worrisome that
dictionaries can become the vehicles of political propaganda even when
their editors have no intent of producing that outcome.

The alleged ecoterrorism wave of 1987 was largely a creation of
publicists aligned with the timber industry. The excerpt quoted above
abounds with loaded words but presents no substantive facts about what
the timber industry was preparing for. The source cited, the
Minneapolis/St. Paul _Star Tribune_, is not a likely place to look for
information about the Pacific Northwest. The Dow Jones news service
isn't famous for showing any sympathy for environmentalist causes,
either. It's important to note that virtually no allegations of
"ecoterrorism" in 1987 were substantiated by citations giving verifiable
details about specific incidents, known perpetrators, or actual
locations. The word was frequently used in disinformation campaigns
against environmentalists who had no association with criminal acts or
terrorism of any kind.

The most egregious case of the label "ecoterrorist" being used for
propaganda purposes came in the 1990 carbomb assassination attempt
against Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.  The
evidence presented in a series of court cases related to that event
clearly shows that the environmentalists were double victims: first of a
carbomb, then of a disinformation campaign and frameup that tried to
make it appear that the victims were the perpetrators. There is a strong
preponderance of evidence that the criminal frameup after the bombing
was carried out by members of the Oakland, California police in
conjunction with agents of the FBI. The victims were alleged to be
"ecoterrorists" without any corroborative evidence.  In fact, there
never was any proof that Earth First had been involved in any criminal
activities, despite repeated attempts of agents provocateurs to
encourage them to use dynamite to emphasize their messages.

Extensive documentation of the facts in the Earth First! case is
available at

A simple definition of "ecoterrorism" without this background creates
the impression that the word arose because there was a widespread
outbreak of activities that fit the label.  That hands a propaganda
triumph to one side on an issue which is still a matter of great public
concern.  I get a terribly uncomfortable feeling when I recognize the
slanted implications of words that are semi-covert weapons in a war I
never wanted to be in.

Propagandists for and against many kinds of activist movements have been
honing their skills for a long time. I hope I've learned not to take on
the conclusions they would foist on me without getting solid,
independent, and convincing evidence first. It's no help when
respectable dictionaries lend their weight to only one side in a
multi-sided debate.

-- mike salovesh   <salovesh at>   PEACE !!!

P.S.:  This message is in not intended as a commentary on the alleged
activities in 2000 or 2001 of a group called the Earth Liberation Front.
It's not at all clear whether incidents attributed to that group have
any connections with anyone who has taken any public stand about the
environment.  There's not enough evidence in the public record to
demonstrate that ELF has any real existence outside the world of
propaganda. Neither is there any definitive evidence that they are
somebody's deliberate fake. I'd rather not get agitated for or against
positions that are supposed to have the support of groups whose very
existence (or non- existence!) marks an attempt to manipulate public
opinion.  I can't know what to think until I know lots more about who
they are and where they think they're going.

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