The cover story of Pacific Northwest Magazine is about "eco-terrorism." It’s decent enough on its own terms, but disappointingly cursory.

For one thing, the author, Craig Welch, spends almost half the article focusing on the 2001 firebombing of the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. What’s notable about that act is not only its violence but its unfathomable foolishness. The professors at CUH were almost all conservationists doing environmentally beneficial work. Apparently the cretins who burnt the place objected to one professor’s genetic engineering of plants — only, oops, that’s not what he was doing.

It was a dunderheaded attack by a collection of dimwitted dipshits, and not a single environmentalist from any organization went on record supporting it. In fact, the article quotes Mitch Friedman condemning it at length. So I’m not sure it reveals much either about "eco-terrorism" or about the evolution of direct action in the environmental movement.

More engaging is the latter half, which traces some of the history of direct action, from Ed Abbey through Earth First! It tells the story of how direct action morphed into the quasi-mythical "ELF," a banner under which any malcontent with a gas can and a chip on his shoulder can set back the work of environmentalism by a decade. Only it kind of stops there, and doesn’t say much about ELF at all.

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The article doesn’t shed any light on the current political situation, or set ELF arsons in the context of other violent domestic ideological groups, or explain how this smattering of misguided activists came to be such a high priority for DHS and FBI.

That would be the juicy stuff. I’m still waiting for someone to write that story.

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