Earth First! is Not the Unabomber
As Ronald Reagan would say, ``There you go again!'' You would think that after all these years the press, the timber industry and the FBI would stop making false allegations linking Earth First! to bombs. But once again they are on a feeding frenzy, this time trying to blame us for the crimes of a lone sociopath, the Unabomber. From the McCarthyite ravings of Congressman Frank Riggs and timber lobbyist Don Zea, to the trash journalism of Rush Limbaugh and U.S.A. Today, to the more ``respectable'' media outlets of ABC Network News, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and the San Francisco Chronicle, Earth First! is being skewered in the press for acts of terrorism with which we have absolutely no connection.
The latest round of slander began with a broadcast on ABC Network News on April 5, just after Ted Kaczinski's arrest. ABC cited unnamed sources at the FBI, and interviewed a man from the timber industry's ``Wise Use'' movement, to claim that the Unabomber is linked to Earth First! On April 24, the Press Democrat printed a column by Jeff Jacoby, reciting the same claims that were aired on ABC. These charges, as usual, are 100% false. For example:
Space prevents me from responding to all of the false charges that have been raised against us. But they are all similar to the ones above. Even the claim that the Unabomber shares an anti-technology philosophy with Earth First! is exaggerated and contrived. In his 35,000 word manifesto, the Unabomber never shows any knowledge at all of the philosophies and concerns of the radical environmental movement. Instead, his opposition to technology is based in psychology, as he claims that modern society does not provide people with ``fulfillment.'' The Unabomber's career as a serial killer predates the formation of Earth First!, and the vast majority of his 23 victims have no connection to environmentalistm.
Yet here we are, once again, in the galling position of having to answer for bombs. Apparently our unbroken record of nonviolence is not enough to silence the hate-mongers. Earth First! is opposed to violence and we operate with a strict nonviolence code. In fact, as local people know, we have stood up to lethal force with nonviolence.
And of course, that is the final irony of the current campaign to portray us as bombers. For while we use only tactics like sitting in trees, chaining ourselves to log gates and Gandhian-style mass civil disobedience, we have been subjected to repeated violence from the timber interests. Earth First!ers in our regions have been punched and knocked unconscious, assaulted with live chain saws, rammed with a logging truck and, of course, bombed, then falsely arrested for supposedly bombing ourselves. Back then, in 1990, the press was used by the FBI and big timber to spread disinformation about us and falsely paint us as violent terrorists. Why is the press falling for the same old line again? Have they forgotten already?
As a bomb victim, living out my life in a broken body, I sympathize with timber lobbyist Gil Murray and all the Unabomber's other victims on a level that few people can even understand. But Earth First! had nothing to do with it and we continue to deplore both violence and hate-mongering.
This article was originally written as a letter to the editor of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Jacoby's column also ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, and Bari sent the same letter to that paper, where it appeared -- in drastically hacked-up form -- as an Op-Ed piece.