I've long believed that radical AR activists and Environmentalists are motivated to violence by religious beliefs closely akin to primitive nature or animal worship. As evidence, I pointed to this highly spiritual piece written by Rodney Coronado, who served time for having torched a lab at Michigan State University.
We have now another example, and this one involves trees that we are asked to believe communicate with humans. It turns out that Tre Arrow, the recently captured radical environmentalist who has connections to the terrorist Earth Liberation Front and who is accused of firebombing cement trucks and logging trucks in Oregon, wasn't always known by that name. According to Andrew Kramer's AP story: "Arrow, 30, was born Michael Scarpitti but says the trees told him to change his name."
Assuming Mr. Arrow doesn't have a brain tumor, his relationship with trees appears to be a profoundly spiritual one - one in which he honestly believes that trees communicate with him. That's fine - I'm all for religious freedom, and if he wants to indulge his spiritual needs in what I regard as a bizarre form of nature worship, he has every right to do so. Right up to the point where he breaks the law by visiting violence on other people or their property. No matter what the fervor of one's religious beliefs, the depth of commitment to one's cause, the certainty that one is doing god's work - none of these exempts one from obeying the law. As one editorial argues:
Rather than quibbling over semantics, we'll focus on one clearly defined word: justice, the point to which Arrow the radical environmentalist must be brought. And if he is found guilty of terrorist acts as charged, then he should be incarcerated for a very long time. . . .
We believe more than five weeks is time enough for authorities in Victoria to finish their work. And we agree with the FBI that a Portland courtroom is where Arrow belongs. He should face federal charges of use of fire to commit a felony, destruction of vehicles used in interstate commerce and incendiary devices in a crime of violence (words we read often in stories about terrorism.)
Arrow disappeared two years ago and has been on the FBI's most-wanted list since being connected to the Earth Liberation Front, which claims responsibility for dozens of radical-environmentalist crimes over the past several years. Arrow first gained fame in Portland in 2000 for perching on a ledge of the U.S. Forest Service building for 11 days. In 2001 he suffered several broken bones when he fell 60 feet from a Tillamook County tree where he was protesting a logging sale.
Beyond the criminal charges Arrow must face, he and others like him must ponder this fundamental irony: the immense damage they inflict upon legitimate environmentalists who use science and public advocacy not criminal acts to achieve much-needed progress in protecting our air, land and water.
I take exception - strong exception - only to the last paragraph. Ecoterrorists don't regard "legitimate environmentalists" to be, well, legitimate. These extremists do not think the way the rest of us do, and if you try to interpret their actions within our framework of the material world and its logic and facts - rather than within their world of spirits and supernatural forces - you will never understand what they are all about. To these people, any human activity that alters the environment is sacrilege. Not figurative sacrilege, but literal sacrilege. There is no question in their minds, no doubt at all, that they are working for a Greater Good.
This is why these people can sow intimidation, terror and destruction with a completely clear conscience. In the shadowy abyss of their mind, they're doing god's work, every bit as much as the terrorists who flew planes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.