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Ecoterror's troubling trend

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After destroying the United States Forest Service Northeast Research Station in Irvine, Pa. this summer, members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) used the incident to announce an escalation in their attacks.

"This global revolutionary movement is no longer limiting their revolutionary potential by adhering to ... nonviolent ideology," the perpetrators wrote. "While innocent life will never be harmed in any action we undertake ... we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice, and provide the needed protection for our planet that decades of legal battles, pleading protest, and economic sabotage have failed so drastically to achieve."

I can't say I was surprised when the group announced that it would "no longer hesitate to pick up the gun" in its ongoing attempt to spark a "revolution." Escalation in violence is the avenue of every failing terrorist campaign. And the Earth Liberation Front is nothing, if not a failure.

Their past decade of bombing and arson in the name of the environment has done little for the planet. In the 10 years since ELF was founded, it can claim few – if any – victories.

Their most highly touted attack – burning down a $12 million Vail ski resort building in lynx habitat – was a complete failure. ELF's actions knocked the knees out from under the established grass-roots opposition. That paved the way for an even larger resort expansion and even more habitat destruction.

Repeated counterproductive ELF actions like this one make environmentalists seem irrational and dangerous. At the same time, their escalating attacks create public acceptance for the harassment and persecution of nonviolent activists.

Those opposed to the environmental movement have used ELF's actions to brand other activists with the "ecoterrorism" label. They've lumped bombing in with nonviolent tree-sits, boycotts, lawsuits, and picket lines. In doing so, they have found support for new laws against environmental activism here in the West.


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