The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Woman Long Sought in Largest ‘Eco-Terror’ Case Arrested

By Bill Morlin on November 29, 2012 - 4:07 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime

Rebecca Jeanette Rubin, a 39-year-old Canadian who has been sought for a decade in the largest “eco-terrorism” case in United States history, was arrested today by FBI agents after she surrendered in Blaine, Wash.

Rubin, an alleged member of a group that called itself “The Family,” is to be taken to Oregon to face trial federal arson, destructive device and conspiracy charges, federal authorities said in announcing her arrest. She was one of three remaining fugitives in the group, another 10 members of which were sentenced to terms ranging from three to 13 years in 2007. Collectively, the group is accused of 20 acts of arson carried out between 1996 and 2001 in five Western states on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).

The arrest was the latest development in a federal investigation dubbed “Operation Backfire” that resulted in the largest case ever brought against environmental extremists. A grand jury indictment alleges the group sought to “influence and affect the conduct of government, private business and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation, and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by similar means.”

The alleged leader of The Family, William C. Rodgers, committed suicide in a jail in Arizona after being indicted in 2006. Along with another member of The Family, Rodgers is believed to have been the author of the ALF manual, Setting Fires With Electrical Timers: An Earth Liberation Front Guide.

Rebecca Rubin specifically is charged with participating in a Nov. 30, 1997, arson at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Harney County near Burns, Ore., and a Dec. 22, 1998, attempted arson at the offices of U.S. Forest Industries Inc. in Medford, Ore.

A companion indictment in Colorado charges Rubin with eight counts of arson in the Oct. 19, 1998, fires that destroyed Two Elk Lodge and other buildings at the Vail ski area in Eagle County, Colorado. At the time, the attack in Vail, which caused $12 million in damage, was the costliest and most dramatic eco-terrorist attack in American history.

A third indictment filed in the Eastern District of California charges Rubin with conspiracy, arson, and using a destructive device in the Oct.15, 2001, fire at the BLM Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corrals near Susanville, Calif.

In August 2007, 10 other defendants in the case received prison terms ranging from 37 to156 months after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore., to conspiracy and multiple counts of arson.

With Rubin’s surrender, two final defendants are now being sought. Joseph Mahmoud Dibee and Josephine Sunshine Overaker remain at large as international fugitives, federal authorities say.

  • Aron

    Right. Just because we disagree with you means we’re brainwashed.

    And Patricia, I apologize for the tone I used previously. But for someone who seems so cognizant of FBI activities, your lack of knowledge of the infiltration of the Stormfront crowd amazes me. I’m not the only one coming off as smug here.

  • http://www.anarcho-punk.net punkmar77

    There are so many idiotic comments to this that I don’t even know where to begin…Nobody in the US has ever been killed by the ELF or ALF and that is because life is a precious thing to both of these organizations, and they have gone out of their way to make sure nobody gets hurt during actions. Again liberal minds equate property damage with violence, while sitting on their asses doing absolutely nothing to stem the massive tide of violence done to our fellow humans, animals, and eco-systems. What are you going to do, vote it away? Wish it away? Depend on the SPLC to do all the legwork for you? Just the fact that a majority of you even uses the word terrorist when describing these folk shows the level of brainwashing you have exposed yourselves to….keep sitting on your asses dispensing internet wisdom while the planet goes to hell in a handbasket.

  • swaneagle

    As far as i know, no ELF or ALF member has ever harmed anyone. I can find no such incident at all. I do know however that the one logger harmed by a spiked tree that left him severely injured encountered that situation due to a lone wingnut who was not involved in any way with environmentalists who had spiked several trees near where he lived. Judi Bari, who organized Redwood Summer, took a very famous stand against tree spiking and was devoted to nonviolence, visited that logger when he was recovering from this near fatal incident. She was well known for her efforts to address the job loss loggers would suffer due to saving the Redwoods and did serious outreach utilizing her union organizing roots. Some loggers joined their efforts to stop cutting those ancient trees.

    Judi suffered the remainder of her life from a car bombing that severely injured her, The FBI accused her of bombing herself. Her coworker Darryl Cherney was injured tho less severely in the same car. He took the case to court holding the FBI accountable for charging Judi with bombing herself while doing nothing to apprehend or find the true culprit. After Judi’s death in ’97 from breast cancer, Darryl kept up the fight winning the case. He used some of the settlement money to make the documentary “Who Bombed Judi Bari?” which was recently released.

    Ted Kazinski, who killed several people with his letter bombs, was also a lone right wingnut who had no ties to environmentalists. Idiots like John Zerzan, however, have displayed absurd admiration for Kazinski.

    One of the most disturbing things about SPLC is the blanket maligning of anarchists which happened after the WTO in a piece written for the 2000 winter issue of the Intelligence Report called “Neither Left Nor Right” portraying those of us who shut down the very secretive World Trade Organization as being comprised of right wing bigots like Pat Buchanan and David Icke as well as violent anarchists who broke windows. I really wondered where Lee got his info as i personally was attacked by police as well as my dear friend. She was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet on D1 and beaten the day before N30 during nonviolent actions we participated in as we have done for decades. Neither of us have ever displayed any violence in our work over the years. There was absolutely no excuse for the attacks we suffered and my friend is blinded permanently as a result.

    Tho Buchanan and fans of Icke were present at the WTO protests, the overwhelming majority of the over 50,000 people present were nonviolent. But we have all since discovered that law enforcement, now militarized all over the US, are primarily concerned with protecting the corporations ruining the planet and the super rich that run them. Police brutality has reached unprecedented levels and especially in Oakland and Seattle where the Feds have investigated inappropriate use of force including senseless killings of innocent people. But the Feds will never back the people. It is counterproductive to what is being done to carry out the corporate killing free trade agenda. Now young, inexperienced anarchists are being jailed with no charges due to the convening of grand jury hearings in March which claims to be targeting anarchists involved in May Day window smashing. Why did they convene in March then? I believe we have a very sophisticated infiltration operation that is designed to ruin any of our efforts to stop the wholesale destruction of land and life.

    Radical does not equate with violence. Radical means root and those of us who stand for the earth with full soul force nonviolence are sabotaged regularly. Infiltration is a real problem and it undermines all efforts to do something effective about the wholesale greedy destruction now in the process of destroying all life and a healthy children’s future.

    Those who are addicted to ever escalating greed will stop at nothing to get what they want at great cost to a livable planet. In my 30 plus years of activism, i see for myself the arsenals used by police against people who simply are standing for a livable reality in this dire times. We have no resources and those opposing us have unlimited funding and weapons. It is very disheartening.

    I appreciate SPLC’s work on addressing white supremacy, but have always been disturbed by lack of accountability that has never been extended towards the FBI for their long history of racism, especially on the Lakota Reservation during the siege at Wounded Knee as well as the notorious use of a cutout target of Martin Luther King used for target practice. The FBI is now involved in infiltrating occupy groups and setting up young, disaffected youth for crimes they would have not committed otherwise if not for FBI providing ideas, materials and explosives as in the case of the 4 so called anarchists from Ohio.

    The FBI also declared occupy a national security threat. Once again, peaceful protesters were met by unprecedented police brutality before any rock throwing window smashers showed up which was similar to the WTO. In both cases, the police assaulted peaceful protesters long before the window breakers started in. In working on my friends lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department, we discovered evidence of infiltrators destroying property and that has been an issue every since in the realm of US protests as well as in other parts of the world. Right now Egypt has pro dictator forces raping female protesters. But activists are now alerted and keeping a close eye on such attackers.

    I suspect this comment will be erased as was my effort to address these relevant issues was yesterday.

  • Patricia

    Aron, thanks for your suggestion, but taking your word at face value isnt an option. Perhaps the “neo-fascists” are just paranoid illicit drug users? I dunno? But if you are suggesting that they are being infiltrated AND prosecuted at the same rate, to the same degree as the activists I previously referred to, then I suggest you do more research. In fact, I suggest you take Gerald’s referral link – start there. When vegan activists leafleting are arrested and charged with the AETA, there is a big problem going on. And, the charge was later dismissed by the presiding judge. I will share a link with you – it may help you understand my position: http://feralaudio.com/25-author-will-potter/

    Bill, the eco-activists ought to be doing activism based on a no harm rule. There are non-thinking or crazed folks in every movement. As an example: I am a Christian, but I definitely would never think to harm a doctor at an abortion clinic, or any other person for that matter. That is madness. Each individual must be responsible for her or his own actions. A few nutters doesnt make everyone in the eco or animal movements insane killers. As a law enforcement official, I am happy to know you care about the environment as well – without it in tact, we all die at some point. However, I’m not sure that the issue surrounding the article meets the criteria for a “hate crime”. Perhaps I am wrong. Im sure ole Aron here will chasitise me if I am.

  • swaneagle

    The only known incident of a logger’s saw hitting a nail nearly decapitating him occurred in northern California where Judi Bari, of Earth First! Redwood Summer fame, actually visited the injured logger who did survive. The guy who spiked those trees had nothing to do with any environmental cause rather was motivated by his own selfish interests. Judi Bari took a stand against tree spiking and was very deeply committed to nonviolence. I met her and talked to her several times over the years before she died in ’97 of breast cancer. She was car bombed and the FBI charged her with bombing herself. Her friend Darryl Cherney who was also less injured in the car bombing took their case to court charging the FBI with knowingly wrongly accusing Judi and doing nothing to find the real culprit. The case was won and Darryl has made a film with some of the settlement money “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”

    There is not one documented case of environmental extremists ever killing or injuring anyone as far as i know. Ted Kazinski was a solitary nutjob who was a mentally ill killer.

    The truth is this whole country is controlled by huge corporations and law enforcement protects them above and beyond anything they do for the common citizen. In fact, we live in a growing police state where our first amendment rights to peacefully protest were seriously violated in Seattle, not only during the WTO, but also during occupy. In both cases police violence was used long before window breakers showed up to do their smash fest.

    Anyone who bothers to do some online research can find out easily just how many people ELF and ALF never killed or injured.

    Radical means at the root. I have to say the police pose more of a threat to my life than any enviro fanatic. My friend, a Gandhian scholar and activist, was shot in the eye during the WTO by a a member of a Seattle Police SWAT force and did nothing to deserve that. She is partially blinded for life.

    Sadly, the media is mostly owned by a few corporations and people do not bother to do self educating around many of the issues being raised here. It really makes a difference to have clear and accurate information. Most americans simply do not pay close attention to what is going on to their peril.

    All of life is in dire straits. Sadly, i doubt we have the will or stamina to unite for the sake of all our children’s future and that is the worst tragedy of all.

  • aadila

    Bill, I think that spiking trees is morally wrong. It represents a risk of harm to people, who, innocent or not, are sentient beings.

    However, if you look at the statistics of people who are harmed by tree spiking, and the statistics of deaths in custody or the kinds of human rights abuses that are common in police in certain parts of the country, I think by far the greater harm is the latter.

    I do not wish to be misconstrued because my own family members have served in law enforcement, and there are many, many more examples of good police work, and it is a difficult, often thankless job.

    The Justice Department is now finally getting off its duff and doing something about the horrendous cases of violence and civil rights abuses that are routine in Texas which is among the most notorious states for police who act in complete disregard for human dignity and the protections of the Constitution.

    Unfortunately, it is not just the police but the grand juries who no-bill obvious violations such as shooting an unarmed person in the back, the prosecutors who are cronies with police, and elected officials who tolerate ridiculously lenient punishment for internal complaints such as PT or riding a desk when someone suffers nerve damage or cracked teeth while routinely detained, or even just simple bullying by badge and gun.

    So given the scale of this threat, I would be very interested to hear your opinions about the relative level of impunity for dangerous cops in the South (and I am not talking about qualified immunity, I am talking about being above the law), vis-a-vis the “dangers” of tree spiking or so-called “ecoterrorism”.

  • Bill

    Ok all, I have read all the blogs on this article and have found the opinions interesting and varying. But even with that being said, I have to speak from a Law Enforcement side here.

    Whether you like it or not, eco terrorism is a threat to all of us, period. Destruction and killing to make a point only makes one point, that the people who do it are willing to hurt you and I.

    For the record, I am for protecting our enviornment and I do know that our natural resources are finite, so it is important that we take a stance here.

    Yet again, life is important and these people have killed or maimed others many a time over for their cause. For instance the logger who is doing their job and all of a sudden the saw blade hits a nail that was put into the tree by the eco terrorist. The saw bounces back and severely cuts or kills the logger. This person or his family suffers and all he/she was doing was working a job to put food on their family’s plate. This means we are not talking about only one person, we are talking countless others that suffer as a result of one incident. So again, how does justifying this cause allow for the death or serious injury of another, it doesn’t.

    Do I have an answer for this issue, no, I don’t but I wish I did. Human life is precious and the people who are hard line eco terrorist have no compassion for human life when it interferes with their cause.

    This is deserves the attention SPLC gave it and more. Radicalism in any shape or form needs to brought to light because of the dangers it presents to you and I.

  • Aron

    Patricia,

    Just so you know, the neo-fascists are so heavily infiltrated by the Feds that none of them trust each other anymore. I suggest you do some more research next time.

  • aadila

    swaneagle points to significant truths about the current state of our culture in the developed world, most particularly the United States.

    How odd that a nation founded upon principles of individualism and selfishness at a time when the North American continent was ripe for exploitation, discovers now, when all the world’s arable land has been occupied and our economic systems are instruments of destruction, that our own culture, which spawned this mayhem, is wiggling like a bug.

    The ennui of a nation, its refusal to see our path, is representative of a people in fast and irreversible decline.

    The mind of nationalism and individualism are one in the same, where selfishness and greed become two of the most powerful motivators of the capitalist mind. We take, but do not question the void and trails of destruction we create as we take. We salute the jingoist dream as our drones crack the foundations of world peace.

    The world suffers and weeps, poisoned, raped, scraped, choked out and left to gasp its last in a heap of plastic, name brand slavery, and possessions which own us.

  • Patricia

    I agree with others on this thread – how is “keeping an eye on the radical right” congruent with posting articles about “leftist” stories? The ELF and ALF are not “hate” groups, nor are they even “groups”. The BIG question in all of this should be the fervor with which the FBI takes aim at actions committed in the name of the ELF and.or ALF, in comparison to actual hate groups that do purposely aim to harm and/or murder people – say…Neo-Nazi, Pride, or Supremacist, Separatist groups/factions/cells. We are talking about a contrast, a comparison between 2 ideologies: one creates property damage, compared to the other, intends purposeful physical and fatal harm to people. Is this lop-sidedness not a problem to anyone, regardless of your opinion of animal rights groups, etc? Intent is a biggie. I don’t agree with arson for a myriad of reasons, so please do not get me wrong. My point is this: One of the ideologies subscribed to above, has activists targeting corporation$. The FBI is infiltrating the animal rights movement like crazy. Why not infiltrate the Neo-Nazi movement with the same passion? Could it be the corporations are in control of the FBI targets? Yeah, that was a rhetorical question. The answer is clear. Problem…no?

  • Walterius

    In Kentucky and Indiana these eco-terrorists groups have caused irrepairable damage to both lives and property. It is about time the government took them seriously.

  • Andy Weatherly

    One of the problems with identifying these folks as “eco-terrorists” is that by doing so there is an automatic assumption that what they destroyed was not in itself eco-terrorism because it was done by ‘legal’ means.
    Thus if a coal company blasts off the top of a mountain; pollutes the water, air, and atmosphere; sells the coal to a government sponsored utility (such as TVA); and it is burned, then there is no eco-terrorism committed because it was done by government fiat in a supposedly legal manner.
    I categorically reject the presumption that terrorism is non-state sponsored activity. Government action should legally be able to be labelled as terrorism.

  • Debra

    I believe as a stalking victim that any sort of gang leads to destruction. Do u realize that bullying any person is a form of outright terrorism? For me my life is a living hell. People including my school have mimicked me menaced me and made facial and body Actions in order to hate me. Stop this type of behavior now or else the world will fall apart.

  • aadila

    Doug1943 would you be so kind as to hand in your list of dangerous groups of leftists, Muslims, blacks, trade unionists etc who are not already tracked by the SPLC? I am sure they will be documented. If you cannot do so, would you please shut your pie hole? Thanks.

  • swaneagle

    ELF and ALF carried out their acts and have never harmed anyone. That fact should speak for itself. Sadly, corporations destroying the earth cannot say the same thing. I spent many years living with traditional Dine (Navajo) resisting forced relocation so Peabody Coal could expand it’s coal strip mine. The relocation of 14,000 people caused the deaths of over 7.000 people before their time, the highest suicide rate in the country among youth, border town murders of homeless Dine people by bigots and despair that is largely ignored by americans. The Congo is an example of the extremes that resource extracting corporations will go to support genocide for the sake of profit. Handy how americans can ignore so completely the real killers at the source of climate changing resource extraction and use so we can maintain a lifestyle. People need to seriously educate themselves about all of these issues. Many youth are drawn to groups like ELF and ALF because they see most people are really doing little to nothing about the state of greed directly responsible for the dire situation all life now faces. I have always been bothered by SPLC alignment with the deadly federal government/FBI in declaring these people “eco terrorists” while our troops have raped, terrorized and killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan at an astounding rate.

  • Carol Marsh

    “Environmental extremist” is an oxymoron. Respectable corporations and governments in their pay are destroying the planet, wiping out species wholesale, making life unlivable for humanity and hoping their riches can finally exempt them in the end.

  • Roger B.

    Gerald; Advocacy groups that engage in destruction of property to further their cause sure aren’t love groups. When environmental and animal rights groups use destruction to further their cause they have crossed the line in the attempt to achieving their purpose. There are a lot of advocacy groups out there that don’t use violence to achieve their goals.

  • Doug1943

    Although some animal rights and ecology groups use violent methods to promote their cause, they should not be mentioned by the SPLC.

    The SPLC does not exist to condemn and expose all groups using violent methods.

    It exists to condemn and expose right-wing white groups using, or threatening to use, or doing anything that might conceivably encourage the use of, violent methods.

    If it starts including leftists, Muslims, Blacks, trade unionists, etc who do similar things, it risks diluting its message and confusing its supporters.

    Stay on message!

  • http://www.sullivan-county.com/ Lewis Loflin

    This is first of all a left-wing group as are nearly all eco- fascism.

    Second, it has nothing to do with hate crimes even in the politically distorted manner the SPLC defines it.

  • aadila

    If we really wish to halt the trajectory toward extinction of our species — which may indeed be irreversible — we need to look much deeper, as a people, to understand how our systems and methods of living are in conflict with the principles of permaculture.

  • Erika

    Gerald, the maximum penalty for stealing $200.01 in property Virginia in 20 years in prison (VA Code 18.2-95).

    So your point is?

  • Shadow Wolf

    “Terror is terror”…

    “Violence is violence”….

    Sure it is. Sometimes the ends justify the means. I don’t think some of these “experts” and regulars on here understand the grave impacts of oil drilling, timber cutting, coal mining etc. That is proven to be far more destructive to the planet than a few “eco-terrorists”.

  • Gerald

    Ian, thanks for pointing that out! Under FACE, it looks like the maximum penalty for pure economic damage to a reproductive health facility is 1 year imprisonment (3 years if second offense). Under AETA, the maximum penalty for pure economic damage to an animal enterprise is 20 years imprisonment (if damage exceeds $1,000,000).

  • Ian

    Gerald,

    We do have something similar to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for anti-choice vigilantes.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FACE_Act

  • Gregory

    Erika,
    To be fair, Jorge provides a great deal of humour. He just doesn’t know that he does.

  • aadila

    There is nothing radical about environmentalism, except maybe my vegan tiramissu recipe.

  • Concered Citizen

    Violence is violence. No matter who does it. It is ALL wrong.No ands,ifs and butts about it.

  • Erika

    Jorge, most of the humor here actually comes from ladies :)

    At least attempts of humor – apparently Jorge didn’t like my joke :(

    And before you think “that Erika must be really slow to just now be getting the blatant sexual inneundo in ALF, i mean just look at his nose” please remember that i was very young when ALF was on the air (and i hadn’t thought about ALF in years) so i’m just now thinking that someone had a good laugh in the production room when they came up with that show concept. And maybe i am slow ;)

    On a completely different note: aadila i’m pretty sure that any actual environmentalist (at least those with common sense) would not use fire attacks to protect animals due to the risk of setting off an uncontrollable wildfire which tend to not be a good thing for the local animal population. More than likely the people setting off those types of attacks are delusional – or possibly anti-social people in search of an ideological excuse to create mayhem.

  • Jorge

    Sam, are you kidding? you guys have no sense of humor at all..good one Aaron

  • aadila

    The myth of the eco-terrorist remains a fixation of the American public due the curious mix of tree-hugging do-gooders and misanthropic fringe fanatics. It is an evil iteration of the rugged individualist, like James T. Kirk in a parallel universe with a goatee.

  • Erika

    Rey, due to censorship concerns network television does tend to only focus on the hunt and not the catch ;)

    hello moderators :)

  • Erika

    Gerald, since when has burning someone else’s property been considered lawful? It is even illegal to burn your own property in many cases.

    The fact is that these idiots avoided killing people only by luck – and they may well have killed animals in their attacks.

    There is nothing lawful about this group’s actions – there are plenty of lawful ways to complain about the treatment of animals and the enviornment. Blowing up someone’s property is not one of them. It is terrorism.

  • Gerald

    To clarify, my point is that such groups do not seem to fall within SPLC’s stated purview. Nobody has explained how environmental or animal rights groups are HATE GROUPS, or argued that they target “society’s most vulnerable.” If the SPLC documented every non-physically harmful use of force, everyday police actions and other state coercions would likely top the list.

    Frankly, I’m ambivalent about the tactics. My concern is that conflating such non-lethal actions with terrorism and bigotry will thwart and silence lawful dissent.

  • Reynardine

    I wasn’t a steady watcher, but I don’t recall ALF catching any, though.

  • Erika

    Aron, being of the right age, i appreciated your joke. It was much better than much of the material on “I Love the 1980s” and those people are supposed to be professional comedians – anyway here is my contribution to ALF jokes :)

    So that explains the use of fire – fire will scare any feral cat in the vicinity causing it to run where the members of ALF can catch it and then since there is already a fire going they can stage a cat barbeque right there at the scene of their “animal rights” terrorist attack.

    Those attacks were immediately backed by PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) who say that while they personally prefer to barbeque pigs, chickens, and cows they fully support the right of any Alien Life Forms present on earth to barbeque cats.

    On a completely different note, how many parents of preschoolers who were forced to watch ALF because their children thought that ALF was “cute” were secretly snickering at ALF’s constant desire to “eat cats”?

  • Erika

    Gerald, are you for real??? You think that using arson attacks and bombings is a legitimate tactic which does not threaten the public? Do you have any idea how dangerous fire and bombing attacks are – people can get killed in those attacks. All it takes is one security guard working during the night (or even a homeless person trespassing) who doesn’t make it out and you are not only justifying attacks against “proprty” but are also justifying murder (at the minimum a very high risk of committing murder). What if one of their firebomb attacks set off a massive forest fire? Would that be fine with you? Fire is dangerous and it kills people. What part of that do you fail to understand?

    Would you have the same opinion if the defendants were members of the Ku Klux Klan and the target of the arson and bombing attacks were black churches? Or if the culprits were Christian supremacists extremists and the targets were abortion clinics or factories where birth control pills are produced? What if the defendants were loggers who were burning down and blowing up offices of enviornmental groups or union halls?

    See, what i really want to know is that you believe that everybody has the right to make terroristic arson and bombing attacks or just people whose “ideology” you support?

  • Gerald

    @Kiwiwriter, what murder? There are no deaths attributed to so-called “eco-terrorism acts.”

    @Lex, environmental and animal rights groups won’t be ignored b/c they threaten the profits of mineral extraction, timber, biomedical, factory/fur farms, etc.

    Such groups can and do protect themselves w/o SPLC’s help. This is why ALF/ELF are labelled the #1 domestic terror threat and we have an Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, but nothing analogous for those who bomb abortion clinics with the intent to kill, or militias that patrol the Mexico border.

    The SPLC should know better than anyone how there are so much more serious threats to public safety than environmental and animal rights advocates.

  • CM

    Gerald,

    Violence is all coercive. Anyone who resorts to violence to achieve a goal – even a laudable goal – is attempting to force someone else to go along with their program. Forcing other people to do things against their will is wrong.

    The exception is when we as a society agree that certain kinds of actions are harmful to all of us, and agree to act together to stop those kinds of actions. But first we have to get that agreement, and non-coercively. Going out and committing acts of violence to advance one’s cause – and arson is an act of violence, even if (luckily) no person is physically injured – is disrespectful to the democratic process and, in the final analysis, pretty damned egotistical.

    Marshall McLuhan’s famous comment that “The medium is the message” strikes me as applicable here. If violence is the medium by which someone communicates a message, the message really is that violence is a good way to communicate, and maybe the best or only way to communicate in certain exigent circumstances: They won’t listen to us when we reason with them, so let’s throw some firebombs at them, that’ll get their attention.

    That’s the enabling theory of all terrorism, and it’s false. Kiwiwriter mentioned Gandhi, who of course is the most comprehensive advocate of non-violence we know of, and I’ll throw out another quote of his that seems relevant here: “There are many causes for which I would be willing to die. There is no cause for which I would be willing to kill.”

  • Sam Molloy

    Be encouraged, Aron. I for one appreciate your humor. That may not be a real great reference around here sometimes though.

  • Matthew Bright

    I am not sure this individual’s motives fall under the purview of the SPLC.

    That said, I must qualify this statement by admitting I am conflicted about her actions.

  • Gerald

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.”

    How exactly do ELF and ALF fit in this rubric? Is a group that engages in property destruction a HATE group? Which “vulnerable members of society” did Rubin allegedly attack?

    For a more informative (and yes, sympathetic) account of environmental activists being labelled as terrorists, and the role of grand juries, see Will Potter’s http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/

  • Lex

    eco terrorists are dangerous extremists and should be exposed and not be ignored.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Eco-terrorism is a menace, too. It kills people, and destroys property. That is wrong.

    Furthermore, eco-terrorism acts as a lightning rod for the far-right. They can point at the eco-terrorists, and accuse them as being the “true views” of the New World Order conspirators.

    After all, we can now read Glenn Beck’s book about a society that worships squirrels…that’s pretty much what these nutters on the right think the nutters on the left want to create.

    As for the validity of the animal rights and ecology causes — I agree that we have to take strong measures to address global warming and the incredible damage humanity has done to the planet. But murder, arson, and terror are not going to save the planet. As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

    I actually like Reb Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” better, when the Tsar orders the Jews out of Annetevka.

    One of the villagers says, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!”

    Reb Tevye retorts, “Great. We’ll all be blind and toothless.”

  • Aron

    And now we know who was behind those widespread cat disappearances. It was the Animal Liberation Front or ALF! Get it? ALF! Like the TV show! You know, he liked to eat cats?

    Yikes. Tough crowd!

  • Sam Molloy

    I can agree completely with the goals of eliminating our self centered callous cruelty to other creatures, without approving of these destructive mesures that do way more harm than good to that cause.

  • Erika

    Susan, terror is terror a problem regardless of ideology – and so is dead.

  • Shadow Wolf

    I wholeheartedly agree with Susan. Now that the ice sheets are melting at rapid rates. Thanks to the real Mother Earth rapists, such are the Republican-backed big oil, coal, and natural gases, along with China and other developing countries that are using the same destructive methods of energy production.

  • CM

    Susan,

    I’d be very curious to know what you consider “the problem in America.” I think violent extremism is “a” problem in America, but it would certainly be helpful to know what “the” problem is.

    I also don’t think it’s ethically or logically acceptable to condone violent acts when they’re committed by people whose goals I share but condemn the same kind of acts when they’re perpetrated to advance goals I disagree with. On the contrary, I want to condemn all acts of violence eo ipso. Committing an injustice is no way to promote justice.

  • Gregory

    Is there anything more trite than a gang/group/cult calling itself “The Family”? Psychology post-grads take note, there is a dissertation somewhere in this…..

  • Susan

    Please stick to the real issues at SPLC, not eco-”terrorism” or animal rights folks. These people are hardly the problem in America.