Stop the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.
"It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at anytime what I think is right" Henry David Thoreau
Since September 11th, every time we turn around it seems as though the government is using the word terrorist to terrify people into cooperating with legislation that is annihilating our civil liberties. From the Department of Homeland Security, to the Patriot Act, to the Animal Enterprises Terrorism Act, to the latest Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. We have seen the toll that this has taken on the anti-globalization movement, immigrant's rights, the Muslim community in the U.S, and the environmental justice movement.
This latest bill proposes a commission to study "Homegrown Terrorism" and "ideologically based violence." It defines these things as:
"The use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." The goal of this commission is to create proposed legislation that will help to eliminate "Violent Radicalization" before it begins.
As a person who believes in the power of people to create social change, I have many concerns with this type of legislation. What stuck out most to me personally was the definition's inclusion of the word "or" between force and violence as well as the Act's failure to define violence. This bill reeks of the hypocrisy in our nation today. As children we are taught that in a democracy we we should speak up in defense of what we believe is right. We are told we will be listened to. Through word and deed we are taught that the use of force to create political and social change is the fundamental way that important social and political changes have occurred in this country. Was the Boston Tea Party that I was taught to be so proud of not an act of economic sabotage necessary in the struggle for freedom? Was the Civil Rights Movement not a use of massive force in furtherance of political and social objectives? Was my High School English teacher wrong when she taught Thoreau's Civil Disobedience? Is the use of force okay only from the standpoint of the winner?
After reading this piece of legislation I was curious whom specifically the government has defined as domestic terrorists. I have known for some time now that the Earth Liberation Front has been deemed the "largest domestic terror threat", but I assumed there would be other groups and folks with other ideologies that would appear on the domestic terrorist list. Pro-life vigilantes came to mind. So, I went to the FBI most wanted list on the Internet and looked at the list of "domestic terrorists". This list consists of eleven people. Of those eleven, six are being sought for involvement in actions that took place between 1970 and 1985. The remaining five are wanted in connection with Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) actions. There are no other current "domestic terrorists" wanted by the FBI. From looking at this list one would not think that we have a large problem of "domestic terrorism" in this country. The introduction of legislation such as the Animal Enterprises Terrorism Act and The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, prove that the U.S. government and the big corporations who back them are afraid the radical environmental movement and the social justice movement. They are afraid because these movements directly confront the hypocrisy that spews from big business's words and deed. They are afraid because these movements are right and because they are winning hearts and minds.
In all ELF actions there has been a commitment to create no threat of injury or loss of life. This, however, cannot be said of the daily actions of the corporations who bore the brunt of these actions in defense of the Earth. Economic sabotage against corporations who profit daily from the destruction of the natural world and the exploitation of human and non-human life is not what is terrorizing this country. Corporate power and greed are terrorizing this country. Political pride and corruption are terrorizing this country. Whatever we each may feel about the tactical or strategic use of property destruction, this truth is clear, our environment, our country, and our world, are in danger. We can sit by and say that that can't be changed, that we are not powerful enough, or we can realize that this legislation proves that the people in power are scared of us. We have the ability to create change beyond our wildest dreams. But, as a movement we can no longer be silent; we can no longer hide our identities in fear. We need to stand up together and say, " This is who I am, this is how I feel, this is what I believe in and I will fight to the death to change this world." We cannot be meek as our rights are being torn away from us.
This bill seeks not only to punish those who may knowingly commit crimes in pursuance of what they believe, It seeks to stop them from believing in things that may cause them to commit crimes. The government can try to do this, try to scare us, throw their weight around. They can spread propaganda. They can call us terrorists for believing in things like Justice and Freedom and healthy food and water and clean air for everyone. But, we know, and I think deep down they must know, that we are on the side of right and moral things. We show this by the way we live our lives and by the work folks do above and under ground in defense of what is just.
Please take time to call and write your senators, sign the petition above this article, and work in resistance to this bill and to the climate of fear that has been created in this country and around the world.
"Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made agents of injustice."
-Henry David Thoreau
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