Special Report

Eco-Terrorist Academic Chic

Coming soon, a California state university conference on ''revolutionary environmentalism,'' starring all the usual heavies from academia's mobocracy.

By 1.28.03

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American academia has long found conservative ideas and their proponents to be anathema. Every speech or seminar appearance by a conservative is an occasion for the typically ugly histrionics of the Left, with people censored or shouted down. We've heard the horror stories from Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Bennett, et al.

At the same time, the liberal academic world has lately embraced terrorist-chic. This past fall Harvard found itself fending off criticism for inviting (then disinviting, then reinviting, etc.), a rabidly anti-Semitic Irish poet named Tom Paulin to deliver a lecture on campus. In March, Duke will host Laura Whitehorn, whose intellectual achievements include the bombing of an empty conference room at the U.S. Capitol in 1983 to protest the U.S. intervention in Grenada, thus earning her fourteen years in the slammer. Feeling left out, a small frontier institution in the provinces will soon hold an eco-terrorism extravaganza. So there, Harvard and Duke.

On February 12-14, California State University-Fresno will host a colloquium entitled, "Revolutionary Environmentalism: A Dialogue Between Activists and Academics." A conference brochure laments that "tree spiking and animal rescues have received little public attention." Therefore, "faculty members at California State University-Fresno invite environmental and animal rights activists, and scholars to participate in a conference on the practical, political and spiritual aspects of 'revolutionary environmentalism.'" Roundtable discussions will cover such topics as: "The Ethics of Sabotage" and "Is Environmentalism a Spirituality?"

If anybody in America could legitimize eco-terrorism, especially post-September 11, 2001, it would be academia. It was only a matter of time. The list of this gathering of eco-mobsters reads like the Green equivalent of Sunday dinner at the Ravenite Social Club.

"Don" Paul Watson will be there. Watson is currently wanted in Costa Rica and Iceland for eco-sabotage that resulted in the sinking of ten ships, mostly whalers. He is the author of Seal Wars: Twenty-five Years on the Front Lines with the Harp Seals (foreword by West Wing actor Martin Sheen). A cheerful Godfather of the Eco-Mob, Watson once smilingly told a reporter: "There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win."

"Capo" Gary Yourofsky of "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" (PETA) has been arrested a dozen times for mink "liberation" and other fur farm vandalism. Yourofsky once said: "What we must do is start viewing every cow, pig, chicken, monkey, rabbit, mouse and pigeon as our family members." In the Green Cosa Nostra, evidently, there are not only "made guys," but "made chickens."

"Consigliere" Craig Rosebraugh, former media liaison for the "Earth Liberation Front" (ELF), exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over fifty times during testimony before a Congressional committee investigating eco-terrorism in February 2001. Fifty times! Lucky Luciano would have been proud. The ELF -- among other capers -- is most famous for the October 1998 torching of the Two Elk Lodge and some smaller surrounding buildings at Vail, Colorado, in defense of lynx habitat (the wild cat, not a golf course), costing the Vail ski resort $12 million in insured damages. By way of introduction to the world, accompanying Rosebraugh to Fresno will be the new ELF media mouthpiece, James Leslie Pickering.

"Soldier" Rodney Coronado of the "Animal Liberation Front" (ALF) is a convicted arsonist who served four years in prison for burning a Michigan State University research lab. In case you're wondering how eco-pyromaniacs like Rodney Coronado get on with the banal unpleasantness of making a living, they -- like Coronado -- take $70,000 in support from PETA over a period of years, thus putting to good use its donation base and non-profit tax exempt status. Craig Rosebraugh has also been the recipient of PETA largesse. For eco-terrorists, this is like winning a Nobel Prize. Call it: "getting a PETA."

Eco-Mob theorist Ric Scarce of Michigan State University (which seems to be Grand Central Station for many of these guys) is the author of Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement. In his book, Scarce lives up to his surname concerning the future of humanity by arguing that wholesale human extermination would be -- if nothing else -- certainly "an environmental cure-all."

"Soldier" Kim Marks of "Earth First!" might update seminar participants on the latest cutting edge (excuse the pun) techniques in tree spiking and the "monkey wrenching" of logging machinery. Or do a workshop on wire fence and gate chain cutting. Or how to survive months of "tree-sitting" (probably some much-needed info there, as "Earth First!" lost one of its own recently to a fall from the top of a very tall California Redwood).

The Green Gangster conclave is controversial, of course, and the California media -- especially the Fresno Bee -- has taken notice. In response to press inquiries, CSU-Fresno President John Welty issued this painfully familiar statement: "The role of the university is really to provide a place where ideas can be freely exchanged and dialogues can occur." And University of Texas-El Paso philosophy professor and seminar participant Steven Best (another Eco-Mob theorist) concurs: "If we can't speak freely at a university, I don't know where we can. We are not there to do anything but talk."

Tell that to the Fresno Police Department, who are advising local SUV dealerships and agricultural interests to take extra security precautions because the conference may draw a horde of eco-terror wannabes looking to make a name for themselves.

As for Welty and Best's pathetic paying of lip service to free expression on college campuses, one wonders whose ideas they would consider more dangerous: Jeane Kirkpatrick's and Bill Bennett's; or Paul Watson's and Rodney Coronado's. And one further wonders what California taxpayers -- staunch supporters of the CSU system -- think of all this.

Eco-Mob chic. Coming to Cal. St. University-Fresno, February 12-14, 2003.

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About the Author

Bill Croke, formerly of Cody, Wyoming, is a writer in Salmon, Idaho.