I am a terrorist

“The folks in favor of air-tight encryption also want to be protected from terrorists,” President Obama told Re/code’s Kara Swisher.[1] Actually, in a very odd way, and speaking for myself, that’s true.

Because the U.S. government, with its intrusions into my privacy, with its policy of helping the rich while hurting the poor, with its drone attacks, with its relentless wars, with its war crimes, with its crimes against humanity, may well be the world’s largest terrorist organization. And if you think I’m being hyperbolic, perhaps stretching the definition of terrorism too far, consider that nearly all of my beliefs—and the mere fact that I express those beliefs—mark me as a terrorist.

The federal government has been broadening the definition of terrorism. Even though animal rights activists who take on the Animal Liberation Front label target only property,[2] they are now considered terrorists.[3] Legislation meant to criminalize the gathering of video evidence of cruelty to animals labels those who do the taping as terrorists.[4] “Basically, the [Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act] is saying if you cause an animal enterprise to lose profits, then you’ve committed a terrorist act,” Rachel Meeropol, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Mother Jones. Apparently, picketing a restaurant or advocating a boycott qualifies.[5]

The FBI has also labeled Occupy protestors as terrorists. Will Potter, author of Green is the New Red, was quoted in Alternet citing “an ongoing pattern of behavior from the FBI of singling out political activists and having a direct influence in creating so-called terrorist plots for the purpose of proclaiming a victory in the war on terrorism.” As the article makes clear, he’s talking about entrapment. And, ominously for me, “We’ve seen this time and again with animal rights activists, environmental activists and the anarchist movement.”[6] That pretty much covers all my bases.

But curiously, in, for example, all the coverage of Cliven Bundy’s armed resistance against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada, no one in the mainstream media seems to have adopted the word terrorist, even after then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Bundy’s supporters “domestic terrorists.”[7] David Horsey, writing in the Los Angeles Times, even denied that Bundy and his cohorts were terrorists, dismissing them as “neo-Confederates itching for a fight with the BLM” and as “just amped-up rednecks with visions of glory and too much talk radio in their brains.” This after, in Horsey’s words, “Bundy’s so-called militia set up a picket line on a freeway overpass and aimed AR-15s and AK-47s at federal agents.”[8]

Of course that might be because Bundy seems to have won.[9] When victors write the history books, I wouldn’t expect them to label themselves terrorists.

But animal rights activists, environmental activists, and anarchists have a much longer ways to go. And I fear my government just as I fear capitalists.

  1. [1]Amy Schatz, “Obama acknowledges strains with Silicon Valley,” SFGate, February 14, 2015, http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2015/02/14/obama-acknowledges-strains-with-silicon-valley/
  2. [2]Animal Liberation Front, “Animal Liberation Front Guidelines,” in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds. (New York: Lantern, 2004), 8.
  3. [3]Jason Black and Jennifer Black, “The Rhetorical ‘Terrorist’: Implications of the USA Patriot Act for Animal Liberation,” in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds. (New York: Lantern, 2004), 288-299; Paul Watson, “ALF and ELF — Terrorism Is as Terrorism Does,” in Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? Reflections on the Liberation of Animals, Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds. (New York: Lantern, 2004), 279-287.
  4. [4]Richard A. Oppel, Jr., “Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime,” New York Times, April 6, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/us/taping-of-farm-cruelty-is-becoming-the-crime.html
  5. [5]Kate Sheppard, “Are Animal Rights Activists Terrorists?” Mother Jones, December 21, 2011, http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/12/are-animal-rights-activists-terrorists; see also Chris Hedges, “Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time,” Truthdig, November 9, 2014, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/saving_the_planet_one_meal_at_a_time_20141109; John Sorenson, “The Myth of ‘Animal Rights Terrorism’,” Brock Review 12, no. 1 (2011): 91-99.
  6. [6]Arun Gupta, “Has the FBI Launched a War of Entrapment Against the Occupy Movement?” Alternet, May 24, 2012, http://www.alternet.org/story/155581/has_the_fbi_launched_a_war_of_entrapment_against_the_occupy_movement
  7. [7]Niels Lesniewski, “Harry Reid: Bundy Ranch Supporters Are ‘Domestic Terrorists’,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, April 17, 2014, http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/harry-reid-bundy-ranch-supporters-domestic-terrorists-video/; Adam Nagourney, “A Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side,” New York Times, April 23, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/us/politics/rancher-proudly-breaks-the-law-becoming-a-hero-in-the-west.html; Valerie Richardson, “Republican lawmakers, officials condemn Nevada rancher after racial remarks,” Washington Times, April 24, 2014, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/24/nevada-ranchers-racial-remarks-cost-him-range-of-s/
  8. [8]David Horsey, “Cliven Bundy’s militiamen are neither terrorists nor patriots,” Los Angeles Times, April 21, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-cliven-bundys-militiamen-20140421-story.html
  9. [9]Ryan Lenz, “The federal government lost its war against Cliven Bundy,” Salon, October 19, 2014, http://www.salon.com/2014/10/19/the_federal_government_lost_its_war_against_cliven_bundy_partner/; Southern Poverty Law Center, “SPLC report: Bundy ranch standoff was highly coordinated, reflecting threat of larger far-right militia movement,” July 10, 2014, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-report-bundy-ranch-standoff-was-highly-coordinated-reflecting-threat-of-large

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