In my book Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement under Siege, I investigate how the animal rights and environmental movements became the government's "number one domestic terrorism threat." This threat was carefully constructed over the years through a coordinated campaign by corporations and politicians. A looming question, though, is why are these activists considered such a threat?
If you listen to the talking points of corporations, industry groups, and politicians, it is because of the property destruction of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. These groups have engaged in serious crimes that have cost corporations millions of dollars in damages and lost profits. Law enforcement has noted that these movements have not harmed a single human being, but they warn about the potential for future violence.
As I became immersed in this issue, though, I came to realize that the perceived threat of these movements is much bigger than burned SUVs, animals released from fur farms, or even the specter of future violence.
The terrorism rhetoric has expanded far beyond the militant fringes of these movements. Mainstream, nonviolent groups like Greenpeace, Peta, and the Humane Society have all been labeled "terrorists" by corporate PR campaigns and investigated as "terrorists" by the FBI. And new legislation being considered in Iowa and Minnesota doesn't target underground groups, it criminalizes undercover investigators who document animal cruelty.
The common thread between such disparate groups is not the tactics they use; it is that they all, in their own ways, have effectively targeted corporate profits and created cultural change. As a bulletin to law enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security warned: "Attacks against corporations by animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists are costly to the targeted company and, over time, can undermine confidence in the economy."
This is the true nature of the "number one domestic terrorism threat." Corporations and the politicians who represent them have manufactured the "threat" in an attempt to neutralize their political opposition, and protect vested financial and political interests. They have exploited the tragedy of September 11th to push their agenda and, over time, it worked its way into the top levels of government.