Wow, here’s some news of the weird for you. There’s been an ongoing campaign against mountain top removal in West Virginia. Big Coal is playing dirty, and has been smearing opponents of their plans as “eco-terrorists.” The local press shamefully jumped on the bandwagon, calling Mike Roselle an “eco-terrorist” for civil disobedience and warning he “may put lives at stake in West Virginia.”. (Roselle is a co-founder of Earth First!, the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network, and one of the most influential activists in the history of the environmental movement–and I don’t think that’s an overstatement).
Well, that was too much to stomach, even for the guy who claims he invented the term “eco-terrorist.” Ron Arnold of the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise said:
“I’ve covered Roselle since 1995 and even devoted dozens of pages to his protest activities in my 1997 book EcoTerror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature. I covered his actions to distinguish between radicals and terrorists. I say he’s a radical environmentalist, not an eco-terrorist. It’s not a crime to be a radical and Roselle has never been charged with any violent crime… Face it: what he did was civil disobedience, not terrorism. But his opponents are dredging up eco-terror accusations. That’s just hot air and it’s wrong.”
Of course, Arnold goes on to say he feels this way because the “honorable” term of “eco-terrorism” should not be “diluted” by this kind of scare-mongering, so it’s clear he still firmly stands by the use of the word. But I think it’s important to note how the usage of “eco-terrorism” has strayed beyond even what the architects of the Green Scare had intended.
The AETA 4 have been indicted as terrorists for lawful First Amendment activity, the SHAC 7 are in prison for running a website, lawmakers are threatening new legislation to target non-violent activists like Tim DeChristopher.
As Arnold says, people like Roselle “may be a terrible pain in the ass, but he’s no terrorist.”