Democracy Now Interviews Will Potter About Daniel McGowan and the Earth Liberation Front

by Will Potter on June 21, 2011

in Government Priorities

I had the pleasure of returning to Democracy Now this morning to talk about my new book, and how environmental activists have been branded as “domestic terrorists.”

We discussed the case of Daniel McGowan, a former Earth Liberation Front member, who is currently in a secretive prison called a Communications Management Unit. Also on the program were Andy Stepanian, who is the first prisoner to be released from a CMU, and Marshall Curry, director of If a Tree Falls.

Because so much of the discussion was focused on Daniel McGowan, arson, and the Earth Liberation Front, it raises a lot of questions about tactics. These are important discussions that need to take place within the environmental movement, and I agree with Marshall Curry’s concluding thought that activists must “think carefully” about what tactics they choose.

However, if we are to move forward, we need to focus even more attention on the truly radical tactics of corporations and the politicians who represent them. They have manufactured this “eco-terrorism” threat, and they are widening their net, eroding checks and balances on government power, in order to demonize and silence their opposition.

Corporations have made quite clear that it is not solely the tactics that matter– it is whether those tactics are effective. That’s why environmentalist Tim DeChristopher is facing 10 years in prison not for arson, but for non-violent civil disobedience. That’s why legislation has been introduced in multiple states not targeting death threats and violent posturing, but targeting undercover videos.

The case of Daniel McGowan and others should prompt a critical examination of the tactics employed by animal rights and environmental activists, but that introspection is absolutely worthless unless it is accompanied by a parallel critique of the tactics used by corporations to push their extremist agenda.

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