On the same day America was directly attacked for
the first time in 6 decades, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation
Front (ALF) were taking credit for the burning of a McDonald’s in Tucson.
”Make no mistake about it,” FBI special agent
David Szady told 60 Minutes this year, ”by any sense or any definition, (ELF)
is a true domestic-terrorism group.”
These homegrown terrorists have not let up since
September. Federal agents are investigating a fire and unexploded incendiary
devices found Oct. 15 at a government holding pen for wild horses and burros
in Nevada — a site where animal-rights extremists committed arson in 1991.
And ALF claims to have set fire to the Coulston Foundation primate-research
facility 9 days after the terrorist attacks on the United States.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson
now has warned that the nation’s food supply could be the target of a terrorist
attack. The people we need to worry about, though, may not be international
terrorists. They could be the middle-class kids down the street.
The growing wave of domestic terrorism by animal-rights,
anti-corporate and anti-biotech extremists has gone beyond vandalism. Property
has been destroyed, and lives have been put at risk. And Americans are the perpetrators.
Even the incendiary devices are nothing new. ALF
says it was the group that used such devices last March to set fire to two meat
trucks in New York. ALF also took credit for setting devices beneath trucks
in Canada on Christmas Day 2000.
ALF or ELF — or both — have claimed responsibility
for vandalism at New York banks, arsons and firebombings at meat companies,
the destruction of homes in several states, and the burning of a feed mill in
Wisconsin, among many other acts. On New Year’s Eve 1999, ELF says it set fire
to Michigan State University’s Agriculture Hall, causing about $1 million in
damages. Its reason: Researcher Catherine Ives’ work would ”force” developing
nations to switch to genetically engineered crops.
”I lost basically my entire professional life,”
Ives told 60 Minutes. She said she was working on disease-resistant crops that
would help feed Africans.
What will it take for the United States to recognize
the clear and present danger that such groups present? The death of a McDonald’s
employee in a bombing, as occurred in France last year?
Perhaps it will require an American Graham Hall.
Hall, a British journalist, was kidnapped at gunpoint in October 1999. The letters
”ALF,” 4 inches high, were burned into his back with a branding iron. An ALF
spokesperson’s comment: ”People who make a living in this way have to expect
from time to time to take the consequences of their actions.”
Hall’s ”crime”: He made a video documentary critical
Complacency is no option; it will happen here.
Just this summer, Bruce Friedrich, vegan campaign coordinator for People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told an animal-rights convention in
Virginia, ”It would be a great thing if, you know, all of these fast-food outlets
and these slaughterhouses and these laboratories and these banks that fund them
exploded tomorrow.” After the audience’s applause died down, he added, according
to a tape of his comments, ”I think it’s perfectly appropriate for people to
take bricks and toss them through the windows. . . . Hallelujah to the people
who are willing to do it.”
An attack could be more insidious than a brick.
In April, PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk expressed hope that foot-and-mouth
disease, so devastating in Great Britain, would infect the United States.
”If that hideousness came here, it wouldn’t be
any more hideous for the animals. . . . I openly hope that it comes here,”
the anti-meat activist proclaimed. ”It will bring economic harm only for those
who profit from giving people heart attacks.”
In 1997, former senator George McGovern wrote prophetically
about a ”new age in this country” with a fragmentation of society ”based
on paternalism — what we believe is best for each other.” He asked: ”Where
do we draw the line on dictating to each other? How many of these battles can
we stand? Whose values should prevail?”
Or, in the words of Walt Kelly’s Pogo: ”We have
met the enemy, and he is us.”
— Richard Berman is executive director of the Center For Consumer Freedom, a coalition
of restaurant and tavern operators.