After being on the run for years, facing charges of conspiracy and multiple acts of arson, Rebecca Rubin turned herself in to U.S. law enforcement on the morning of Nov. 29. She is accused of belonging to Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front for several years starting in the mid-1990s. The FBI labeled both ELF and ALF “terrorist groups,” a designation that usually results in a jacked-up prison sentence; ten other defendants who pleaded guilty to charges related to the incidents to which she is allegedly linked were sentenced to terms ranging from three to 13 years.
Once upon a time, the word “terrorist” referred to someone who killed or hurt innocent people for political aims contrary to the interests of the dominant classes. (Of course, the word never officially applies to those who killed or hurt innocent people for political aims that are in line with the interests of the dominant classes, such as when the U.S. government carries out drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan). But since 9/11, “terrorism” has meant whatever the state wants it to mean. The FBI slapped that label on Rebecca Rubin retroactively, even though she has never harmed or attempted to harm a single human being. Federal agencies had been hunting her since 2005, after FBI snitch Jake Ferguson linked her to what an FBI press release called the “nation’s largest eco-terrorism case.”
What was this woman’s crime of “eco-terrorism”? Did she construct shoddy oil rigs, cutting costs in an effort to make more profit, resulting in the deaths of 11 oil rig workers and millions of other living beings in the Gulf of Mexico?
No, BP did that. And no one at BP faces prison time, despite the company pleading guilty to 11 felony charges related to the Gulf oil spill.
Did she construct shoddy nuclear power plants, cutting costs in an effort to make more profit, which caused lethal radiation to spew all over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean?
No. That was TEPCO. No one is in prison for that.
Did she promote, for her own profit, a fossil-fuel-based economy that pumped CO2 into the air in such quantities that we are now facing climate chaos and the possible end of all life on Earth? No, that wasn’t her. That was Exxon-Mobil, Ford, Standard Oil, FPL … the list goes on. Do any of them face jail time for annually causing the deaths of about 300,000 human beings and driving hundreds of species to extinction? No, they do not. Not only are they not in prison, they are not being threatened with any punishment whatsoever, even if they continue their killing spree. On the contrary, they are being richly rewarded for not stopping. Killing people by destroying the environment is not, evidently, “eco-terrorism,” according to those who hold the power to officially define and enforce what is or is not considered a crime.
The term “eco-terrorism” originated in the 1980s with the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, a group representing mining and timber companies and others who advocated opening up 70 million acres of federal wilderness areas and parks to commercial development, mining, old growth logging, and oil exploration.
Later, similar pro-business entities belonging to the lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council drafted the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which classifies as “domestic terrorism” any action that interferes with any animal-related business (including medical research, zoos, factory farms, fur farms, plus any third-party businesses related to those — their accountants, banks, maintenance firms, etc.). Under this legislation, “interference” refers not only to property destruction or vandalism, but any action that results in “economic disruption” — in other words, a decrease in profit.
Here’s a representative sampling of the 20 acts Rubin has been accused of being linked to, which US law enforcement agencies label “terrorist” acts:
Releasing 2000 minks from a fur farm where (ALF claimed) they were being electrocuted and skinned alive.
- Releasing wild horses that had been captured and (ALF claimed) marked for slaughter, and then burning down the barn used for containing captured horses.
- Burning down deserted sections of a ski resort that was slated for a 4,100-acre expansion that would (ALF claimed) endanger the local lynx population.
- Releasing 55 beagles implanted with human pacemakers from a medical research lab.
Those in power impose their own definitions of terms and concepts on the dominated population. They lie so flagrantly that words are twisted to mean their opposite. Cutting down trees means construction. Clearing land means development. “Right to work” means “right to fire.” No means yes. Eco-terrorists are not those who destroy the planet, but those who attempt to stop them.
What is considered “terrorism” in a society built on systematic terror and violence? It is any attempt to resist being exploited, dispossessed, and oppressed. It is any attempt to fight back. It is any attempt toward liberation from this omnicidal system.
Part of our fight to free ourselves and to save our habitat, our Earth, is to reject their lies, reject their concepts of good and evil, reject their definitions of those who refuse to submit.