Gristmill has commented before on what seems a fairly coordinated push by the feds — assisted by far-right media types — to hype "eco-terrorism" as the next big domestic threat. This serves three overlapping goals:

  • It stokes fear and anxiety about terrorism generally, which can only serve the interests of the executive branch of government.
  • Classifying acts as terrorism rather than simple crime (arson, theft, vandalism) substantially expands the police powers that can be brought to bear, in terms of surveillance, search and seizure, etc.
  • It demonizes a political force that has sought, and in many cases successfully secured, legal and regulatory restraints on corporate power.

On June 12, PBS is running a documentary called “The Fire Next Time,” about the incredible strife in and around Kalispell, Mont., over environmental issues. In part, that strife has been exacerbated by the inflammatory rhetoric of a talk radio DJ named John Stokes, who says of environmentalists, "Eradicate ’em. Their message stinks. They’re destroying America. And it all came out of the Third Reich. You know, the Third Reich was born out of the environmental community. I don’t make it up. It’s there."

Today in Grist, an essay by Michael Kavanagh examines this sort of rhetoric, alongside FBI efforts to cast "eco-terrorism" as the next big thing, and asks what effect it’s having, both on our sense of environmentalism and our sense of real terrorism.

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